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Date of Issue: July 12, 2007

More pine work to take place on causeway

Work to top Australian pine trees along the Palma Sola Causeway was to begin Tuesday, July 10.

Florida Power & Light crews will conduct the work to the dismay of some and with the approval of others - both sides claiming to be on the side of the environment.

There are plans to leave Australian pines on the southeast side and on the north side by the pavilions, but some Australian pines said to be too close to power lines will be topped to 18 feet and some will likely be removed from the causeway.

Additional Australian pines west on Manatee Avenue may be topped or removed.

Plans for the Palma Sola Causeway in the 2007-08 budget cycle are extensive, including native plantings, new rest rooms and a new boat ramp may also be built on the southeast section of the causeway in Bradenton city limits, according to committee members of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity.

The most visible aspect of the scenic highway plan is the planting of about 750 trees along Manatee Avenue from 79th Street West on the mainland to East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach. The project is being financed with a $300,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation. In addition to creating a native tree canopy, plans call for groundcover - fakahatchee grass, sand cordgrass, shore juniper and beach sunflowers.

In preparation of the plantings, non-native Brazilian pepper trees have already been removed.

Some pine trees also will go, despite opposition from a group called Stop Taking Our Pines, which is circulating petitions to protect the trees.

The Australian pine, which is a hardwood tree not a pine, is said to be an aggressive species and its blanket of needles prevents native plant growth, degrades wildlife habitat and erodes coastal environments.

The removal of Australian pines on the Island over the past several months has drawn protests and fueled a petition drive to save the trees. The tree’s advocates argue that they see evidence that the Australian pines do not crowd out other plants, serve as nesting sites for birds and withstand wind gusts as well as some native trees.

But government conservationists continue to advocate removal when the trees are not used for recreational shade, especially when the trees threaten utility lines.

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