Six trees illegally cut down in greenbelt between California Creek and Town Square
By Ken Smith
On Sunday, Sept. 9, between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the sound of a chainsaw could be heard in Town Square and trees began falling in the greenbelt between Crow Creek Road and Holmgren Place. A crowd of people dining on the deck at Casa Del Sol, a Mexican restaurant directly across from where the trees were being cut, could be heard cheering as a tree was felled.
When it was all said and done, six trees were illegally cut down by a lone man, five of them falling into or across California Creek.
“I went and saw what happened in the aftermath,” said Steve Delatush, a resident of Crow Creek Road since 1984. “I didn’t think much of it because it’s been going on here all summer, and that they were just working in Town Square.”
The past few months, work crews have been paving roads and cutting trees down to build a park in the middle of Town Square.
“My son said he heard a tree fall and people hootin’ and hollerin’ like it was a party.”
Delatush went down to see who was cutting the trees but the person was gone.
“I would have liked to have caught him red handed,” he said. “To think that it went on for a couple of hours and nobody stepped in that was watching it from Casa Del Sol to stop it. It’s a shame to see this happened, and I don’t want this person to think they can get away with it.”
Jesse Stam, co-owner of Casa Del Sol, was working that day, but said she didn’t realize anything illegal was going on.
“There were people on the deck that saw a tree fall down, and we just assumed it was the state,” she said. “I really didn’t think anything of it.”
The following day Kyle Kelley, the municipal liaison to the Girdwood Board of Supervisors, was notified about the illegal tree cutting and he then contacted the local troopers. Fish and Game also got involved because the creek is salmon habitat, and the municipality was notified because the greenbelt is located on land owned by the Heritage Land Bank.
Seward-based wildlife trooper Scott Sands came to Girdwood and started investigating. After talking to some locals, he found the man responsible for the illegal cutting of the trees – Girdwood resident Matt Moscoso.
“I contacted him and talked to him (Moscoso),” Sands said. “He took responsibility. He’s got until Oct. 20 to have all the trees out of the creek. If not, he will be charged for blocking a anadromous salmon creek.”
Sands said Moscoso could face further charges such as destruction of public property. The Girdwood trooper investigating the case would be responsible for filing any further charges.
Girdwood trooper Tim Lewis told the Turnagain Times that Moscoso will be issued a summons to appear in court, likely being charged with destruction of public property.
The Turnagain Times reached Moscoso by phone. When asked why he cut the trees down, Moscoso, 29, answered, “I cut them down for personal reasons. But from the bottom of my heart I apologize. I didn’t have bad intentions, my intentions were good.”
As for the damage to the creek, Moscoso said, “I’ll be clearing the debris from the stream before the snow flies. I went and checked it out with somebody from the state, and the trees were not impacting the salmon.”