Huffpost New York

Storm Damages 1,000 Central Park Trees

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CENTRAL PARK TREE
AP

NEW YORK -- Central Park could lose 1,000 trees due to the unprecedented weekend snowstorm, the group that manages the park said Monday.

The storm harmed about 400 acres – half of the park, primarily its southern end, below 86th Street, said Central Park Conservancy spokeswoman Dena Libner.

"The damage is so broad and so devastating, so much worse than Irene," she said.

Many paths were blocked off by yellow hazard tape on Monday, but joggers and cyclists were in full force, taking advantage of a bright, sunny day – a big contrast from Saturday, when the freak fall storm hit the area.

"It looks like a tree cemetery," said Merideth McGregor, who was walking her two dogs, a Yorkie and Maltese. "Their walks have been curtailed. The paths are blocked and the trees are down."

"It's sort of amazing to see such a lot of devastation caused by a couple of inches of snow," said Tim Zagat, of Zagat restaurant guide fame, who was taking his morning walk in the park. "It reminds you that in some ways it's still a wild place."

About 100 conservancy workers were clearing and assessing the damage, Libner said, "and we're calling for private contractors" for assistance.

"Every tree that lost a branch has to be assessed whether the damage was more severe than just losing a limb," she said.

But it wasn't just limbs that came down. Libner estimated that hundreds of whole trees – some measuring 3-4 feet in diameter_ also were felled.

The New York City Marathon, which winds through the park, is only six days away – an event the conservancy has been preparing for two weeks.

On Monday, workers were putting up risers for the weekend event while also feeding downed limbs into a wood-chipper-type compactor.

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Associated Press writer Ula Ilnytzky contributed to this report.