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Stumps are all that remain of eight trees destroyed to make way for a drainage pipe. Photo by Jeff Prince.

Westsider Lance Duvall has spent most of his 34 years living in that part of town. Often he can be found walking along the Trinity Trails behind the Marquis at Bellaire Ranch apartment complex where he lives near Hulen Street and Bellaire Drive. One of those recent walks left him short of breath but not from aerobic activity.

A line of eight large shade trees that had been growing beside the trail just behind the apartment complex were missing, with nothing remaining but their jagged trunks.

“I noticed they had cut down all the trees along the trail there,” Duvall said. “It looked like the trees had been hit with a backhoe. They were split. I think they used backhoes to knock the trees down.”

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The trees not only provided shade for a 100-yard stretch of the Trinity Trails, but they also were the only trees around to shade some of the apartment tenants’ balconies from the afternoon sun.

“I’m sure [tenants] enjoyed sitting on their balcony and looking at those trees,” Duvall said. “I’ve talked to a few people around the apartment complex. No one is happy they were cut down.”

The trees contained one huge oak and seven medium-sized hardwoods. Duvall doesn’t know how old the oak was, but he knows it was older than him.

“I’ve lived in this area since I was born, and I’ve been on the trails a lot since I was a kid,” he said. “The trees were big enough to where the branches overlapped the trail and provided shade. Now there is no shade on that stretch of trail.”

Duvall notified the Fort Worth Weekly, who sent one of its crack reporters to sniff out the skullduggery. A thorough, microscopic search of the area turned up a couple of possible clues. One was a small, white button lying in the dirt. Had it fallen from the shirt of the tree murderer? Would there be enough DNA left behind on the button to lead us to a suspect and allow us to solve the case?

No.

The other clue was a large, yellow excavator parked beside the trail near the eight tree stumps. It had obviously been used to dig a large drainage ditch that runs between the trail and the apartments. Also, somebody at the apartments said he had seen a Tarrant Regional Water District truck out there while the work was going on.

Tarrant Regional Water District Spokesperson Chad Lorance confirmed that the water district had waylaid the trees.

“The trees were removed as part of the work on the drainage project, which is taking place on the backside of the levee,” Lorance said. “In order to move the pipe needed for the project from the river side of the levee to the backside of the levee, we had to use a crane. Those trees hindered our ability to move the pipe from one side of the levee to the other with the crane.”

Lorance said “at least two of the trees were dead and rotted on the inside.”

Duvall, who inspected the trunks, disagreed.

“There is one tree that I can tell was rotted,” he said. “Just one. You can tell when they’re rotted because the insides are hollow and black.”

The water district has no plans to replace the trees, Lorance said.

A Trinity Trail bicyclist rolls past the stump of a tree that once provided shade. Photo by Jeff Prince.

Duvall believes the work crew could have placed the pipes in the drainage ditch without removing the trees.

“They have those big cement drainage blocks, and they didn’t use a crane to put those down there,” he said. “I’m sure they could have gone around the trees and managed it somehow but didn’t want to. I really liked those trees. It’s a disgrace. If there is no need to cut them down, [workers] should have left them.”

Joggers, walkers, and bicyclists were back on the trail the next day, passing by the slaughtered trees with little more than a quick glance.

The water district said it has received no complaints about the decimated trees other than from Duvall.

So, life goes on.

Well, except for the trees.

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