Residents around Zorinsky Lake concerned over plan to remove 50 trees

An audit six years ago told the Army Corps of Engineers to clearly define boundary lines around federal land.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 11:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An audit six years ago told the Army Corps of Engineers to clearly define boundary lines around federal land.

That includes popular Omaha park areas like Lake Zorinsky where a line of trees stand in the way.

Walking the trail behind their house, Kim and Matthew Latacha hope to rally opposition to the government’s marching orders.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is destroying these trees, taking them all out,” Kim Latacha said. “Why? So they can define the boundary line between the residential area and the park.”

Next to their backyard, a line of trees stands in the Corps crosshairs on the north side of Lake Zorinsky Trail.

Kim says she’s walked this tree line several times counting, and by her estimate, 50 trees are slated for removal. Five of them are dead and should go, but 45 others are green and standing tall.

The couple argues clearing the way to make a clearer boundary for the Corps will destroy more than just their backyard view.

“People walk this trail, they want to see nature, they want to see trees and wildlife,” Matthew Latacha said. “They don’t want to see someone’s fence, they don’t want to see someone’s yard, they don’t want to see someone’s dogs barking at them.”

As we first reported, the Corps is removing trees to create a 30-foot boundary buffer that starts at the border of federal land.

“Which has to have a clear boundary to facilitate the inspections,” Project engineer Tommy Aldmeyer said. “Along with that comes some benefits like a fire break and some access for the city to access maintenance for the fence line.”

But the Latacha’s say the trail already does that, so why cut down these 50 trees?

“Seems unnecessary and a waste of government dollars to take out trees that really have no purpose to being removed,” Kim Latacha said.

The project engineer says the $480,000 tree clearing boundary bid on Zorinsky’s northside has just been awarded and that includes the removal of the pine line behind the Latacha’s home.

“The corps understands that there might be some trees people want to keep but the reason we are doing it is for that boundary management, and these trees inhibit or are in the way of maintaining that boundary,” Aldmeyer said.

But some neighbors see cutting this stand crosses a government waste line.

Phase three of the boundary clearing around Lake Zorinsky should start within a week and take up to a year to complete. Then the boundary maintenance program moves on to other lands around lakes, like Standing Bear in northwest Omaha.