A Tree Grows in Brooklyn–or Else

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

Outside magazine, April 1996

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn–or Else
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta

“Those guys deal with rapes and murders all day,” says New York City parks official Bradley Tusk of the city’s criminal court judges. “They never took environmental crimes that seriously. This law fixes that.” And how. Hack down a tree in the Big Apple and you’re looking at a year
behind bars, a $15,000 fine, and $10,000 per tree in civil damages. The new penalties, among the most severe in the nation for destroying public vegetation, come after a string of highly-publicized tree slayings. In the most recent case, a former New York City firefighter, convicted of “premeditated arborcide” for removing seven trees that obstructed a billboard owned by his
employer, was sentenced to a whopping 500 hours of “tree-related community service.”

promo logo