Leslie’s legacy

Andrew Robinson
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Trees down in St. John’s; damage allows lynx to escape at Salmonier Nature Park

The City of St. John’s said Wednesday it expects it will take time to clear the mess of fallen and uprooted trees left in municipal parks, while provincial government workers were searching for a pair of escaped lynx in the aftermath of tropical storm Leslie.

According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Environment and Conservation, several animal enclosures were damaged during the storm, including those containing the two lynx.

One was captured alive Tuesday evening, but the second lynx was still missing as of midday Wednesday. The spokeswoman said in an email that staff expected to retrieve the lynx later in the day. She said all other animals at the park were safe and accounted for.

Aside from the areas where animals are kept, the park’s boardwalk sustained damage in multiple sections due to uprooted trees, and the spokeswoman said the service road was impassable. Shingles on the administration building were damaged as well.

The three biggest municipal parks in St. John’s lost several trees as a result of the storm. The city’s director of public works, Paul Mackey, said Victoria and Bannerman parks suffered the most damage.

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While Tuesday’s storm may not have been as memorable as hurricane Igor in 2010, Mackey could not recall having issues with trees in Victoria Park during that weather event.

“We lost several large ones down there this time,” he said, speculating that differences in wind direction may have been a factor.

Based on discussions with city staff, Mackey said some of the fallen trees were believed to be anywhere from 100 to 200 years old.

In Bowring Park, Mackey said damage was limited to scattered evergreens that fell during the storm along with broken branches.

Efforts to clean up the parks have already begun, and Mackey anticipates it will take a while to complete the work. In the early goings, he said an emphasis has been placed on trees that present a public safety hazard or block roads or paths.

“It’s a lot of work to clean up even one of those large trees because of the size, and it has to be cut up in manageable pieces and taken away, and then you’ve got a large stump and landscaping to deal with,” he said.

“And, of course, we’re trying to tend to other things beside the park.”

Among those other things are the many trees toppled on private property. Drop-off sites have been set up in Bowring Park’s west parking lot, Wishingwell Park, and at the west parking lot of Quidi Vidi Lake. Residents can register for roadside collection by calling the city at 311 or 754-CITY (2489).

Last month, the Bannerman Park Foundation unveiled the Garden of Memories, the first project in its revitalization plan. Foundation vice-chairwoman Shannie Duff said Tuesday’s damage will not affect the foundation’s plans.

Mackey said the results of Tuesday’s storm speak to the fact that it’s beneficial to plant trees of different varieties near each other in order to help protect them from extreme weather.

Ensuring trees are properly planted in a hole large enough for the development of a strong root base is also important, he said.

The province reported Wednesday that hundreds of trees have fallen in Butter Pot Provincial Park, with hundreds more leaning towards campsites and roads. The generator shed at the warmup building lost shingles during the storm, the well house roof was damaged, and several trailers were also damaged, according to the department’s spokeswoman.



Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Department of Environment and Conservation, Bannerman Park Foundation

Geographic location: Salmonier Nature Park, Bowring Park, Victoria Park Wishingwell Park Quidi Vidi Lake Butter Pot Provincial Park

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