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Neighbors outraged by attack on cherry trees

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Posted at 3:52 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 18:16:35-04

Driving along Edmonson Avenue in Catonsville, suddenly there's yellowing and dead trees. Some chopped to the base, others look like they're trying to hand on.

The scars still visible at the trunk of each tree. A slit, and a small drilled hole on every single tree for a half mile.

"This was done over a couple of days because the sawdust from the drill holes was older (did you test it?) forester, you just know," Director of Nonprofit Catonsville Tree Canopy Jim Himel said.

Five of the 32 trees died, and the future looks grim for a handful of others. The trees were planted two and a half years ago, when the community had medians and a bike lane put in.

Nonprofit Catonsville Tree Canopy Project planted the trees with donations and grant money. It took about three and a half hours for the 50 volunteers to do the work.

Last Spring the Kwanzan cherry trees bloomed for the first time, "the flowers were just gorgeous, they're really coming into their prime, or they were," Himel said.

Himel said one neighbor loudly protested the traffic change, partially because a median protecting the bike lane was in front of his home. Himel thinks that neighbor committed the crime.

"There's never been this kind of tree terror attack... it's incredibly harsh, around Baltimore it's unprecedented," Himel said.

"I saw pictures of people, the trees hacked, and poisoned, like who poisons trees? That's so bizarre to me," Neighbor Ben Zamzow said.

Volunteers are replacing the dead trees, this costing the nonprofit about $5,000, a quarter of their annual budget. The nonprofit put the trees in as part of their commitment to plant 1,000 trees over 10 years.

This isn't the first time they had to replant on this strip of street. 

"We've had three incidents where drunk drivers have taken out a few trees on the islands," Himel said.

Now there's a criminal investigation into the attack. Baltimore County Police ask anyone with information to call them.