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Yesterday, a contractor for the Seattle Parks and Recreation department began removing blackberry bushes along the West Seattle hillside where about 150 big leaf maple trees were illegally felled in the West Duwamish greenbelt in mid-January.

According to WSB, city officials hoped clearing the area would reveal whether even more trees had been cut down and help prepare the site for restoration. Seattle Parks officials have not yet revealed whether additional stumps were discovered.

Hacking down the maples didn't only destroy the natural beauty of the hillside. It has an environmental impact, too. The slopes are now especially fragile because the trees helped stabilize the soil, KING 5 reported. Now with the trees gone, the area could be prone to landslides.

Although several homeowners owned up to some of the clear cutting in March, charges have yet to be filed.

From KIRO:

Seattle City attorney Pete Holmes has said whoever is responsible for the clear cut could face jail time.

The penalty depends on the value of what was cut down.

If it is worth more than $5,000, the crime becomes a felony which brings with it the possibility of jail time.

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In March, Holmes told KING 5 that "the damage to the city property could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars."

This post has been updated since it's original publication to indicate that the City of Seattle believes the trees were cut in mid-January.

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