Lake Zorinsky management frustrated with recent tree-cutting vandalism

About 20 trees have been trimmed, with several more removed altogether.
Lake Zorinsky managers and neighbors are on edge after discovering unauthorized tree cutting and removal.
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 10:23 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Trees are a wood picture frame around Lake Zorinsky, and a section has been chipped by vandalism.

“You’re out here enjoying the beauty. I don’t think you would want to destroy it.”

On the side of a south hill, about 20 mature oaks and pines have been unprofessionally trimmed. Dozens of smaller trees and bushes were removed entirely. In a swath about 50 yards wide, branches have been broken off and trunks indiscriminately sliced, leaving deep scars on some trees growing on public land.

To call this a hack job might be an understatement. A tree was gnawed at, and there are teeth marks -- but not from the bite of an animal. They appear to be machine-made.

A machine is suspected of causing the damage, but it doesn’t belong to any government body. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells 6 News it’s aware of illegal tree cutting at Zorinsky. The vegetation removal was not a sanctioned project by the city or the Corps of Engineers.

“People shouldn’t be cutting trees on purpose out here if they’re not authorized to.”

Omaha’s parks director tells 6 News the city investigation of this incident will continue to determine the right action. The park’s manager calls it vandalism at its worst.

“There shouldn’t be anybody touching those that I know of.”

From the trail, it’s hard to see how bad the damage is -- but pointing out one marred tree gives walkers a glimpse of damage farther up the hill.

“It looks sad like somebody hurt the tree.”

6 News attempted to contact three homeowners at the top of the hill asking if they noticed the illegal tree cutting first discovered in December. So far, we have not heard back.

Lake Zorinsky opened in 1993, so many of the trees around it are 30 years old. Those illegally gouged and poorly trimmed trees may survive, but the vandalism has left a sad mark on a scenic public place.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Omaha Parks Department or the Army Corps of Engineers. The damage is not only a city crime but a federal offense.