Tree Clearing at Hinkson Creek Sparks Controversy

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COLUMBIA - A pile of felled trees near a new bridge construction site on the Hinkson Creek Trail has residents and environmentalists asking the city to make amends.

Columbia resident Barbara Wren lives near the work on the creek area and is upset that wildlife has been damaged in the process of building this bridge.  Wren has started a petition online against the work and openly advocates against it.  She said that she does not think it is right for the city to spend this much money on something that is hurting wildlife.

Ken Midkiff, the conservation chair of the Osage group of the Sierra Club, said the city of Columbia doesn't seem to realize how many trees are cut down. Midkiff claims the city admits to 18, but his group counts more.

But the public information specialist for Columbia Public Works, Steven Sapp, gave KOMU 8 News a packet of information regarding the issue Thursday morning citing a different number.  According to a letter from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in the packet, there were three trees cut down measuring more than 5 inches in diameter.  KOMU 8 News called Sapp's office multiple times Thursday to get updated information, but Sapp never returned those calls.

In a motion Monday to the Columbia City Council from the Sierra Club, the club wrote, "While there are 56 logs neatly stacked that MAY represent the 18 trees cut that Public Works now acknowledges, there are many more trees hidden under an enormous pile of brush."

Originally, the plan was to build a low water bridge, but because the area is a flood plain, Columbia Public Works changed the plan to a high water bridge.  This will require more machinery that Wren thinks is going to damage more.

Midkiff agrees and told KOMU 8 News that he talked with an engineer from the city and the engineer said cranes and other machinery will be necessary to finish this project.  Midkiff said the destruction will be greater with time.