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Date of Issue: November 18, 2009

Australian pines cut for beach improvements

Thirteen Australian pines came down last week to make way for improvements to facilities at Coquina Beach.

Branches of Australian pines are cut and removed from Coquina Beach, where the county is improving the bus-trolley transit stop area.
Islander Photos: Lisa Neff.

Cut Australian pines at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach..

In the past, some Islanders resisted the removal of the non-native invasive species.

Not so last week.

Neither county nor Bradenton Beach officials fielded complaints, but beachgoers asked questions.

“Well, you want to know what’s happening when you see someone cutting down trees in a public park,” said Jodie Kennedy of Longboat Key. “But once I realized they were Australian pines, well, everyone is supposed to be trying to get rid of them.”

The Australian pines provide shade and can provide wildlife habitat, but their groundcover can prohibit the growth of native plants and they multiply rapidly, according to state and federal agencies that advocate the eradication of the trees.

But the trees were not removed simply because they are on an invasive plant list, according to officials with Manatee County, which operates Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.

The county has plans for improving beach amenities, including renovating the concession stand in the next year.

Work now under way involves improving access to the parking lot and the trolley and bus shelters under the U.S. Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Australian pines were in the way of future walkways that will connect the trolley shelters, a handicap-reserved area of the parking lot, the concession stand and the multi-use path that runs the length of Coquina Beach, according to Eric Angersoll of the county property management division.

Angersoll said the county will be using pervious pavers rather than concrete for the walkway material.

The county also will install solar-powered turtle-friendly lights at the trolley/bus transit area and new vinyl-coated recycling and trash bins.