ST. PETERSBURG — A city grounds crew was behind the butchering of a mangrove tree at Demens Landing, a parks and recreation department spokesman said Tuesday.
"We had a crew that was far too aggressive in its trimming style," supervisor Mike Jefferies said.
The marina had put in a work order with the city to trim the mangroves to allow a boat to fit in a nearby slip. A mangrove specialist with certification from Pinellas County was supposed to oversee the work, Jefferies said. Instead, that person sent a crew to the downtown marina last week and went to a different site.
The crew didn't follow the specialist's instructions and violated county code by trimming the collection of trees far below the 6-foot height limit. They were trimmed so much that more than half of the tree will likely die, a county environmentalist said Monday.
"I'm horrified, and embarrassed is not a strong enough word, obviously," Jefferies said.
County regulations strictly limit how a mangrove can be trimmed, and mangrove removals are almost never authorized.
Demens Landing residents complained to marina management and Mayor Rick Kriseman about the trimming.
The city will be fined between $100 and $10,000, though the county has not determined the exact amount. The city will also be required to provide mitigation, and Jefferies said he's been in contact with the local Sierra Club and the county's environmental specialist, Conor Petren, about how best to do that.
It could include planting more mangroves, Jefferies said, in an effort to "correct this the best way we possibly can."
Jefferies said the parks and recreation department will also focus on educating employees to prevent future improper trimmings.
Contact Claire Wiseman at email@example.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman.