Navy removes trees, upsets Norfolk residents

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Trees being cut down in a Norfolk neighborhood have created controversy: the Navy says it’s a safety necessity, but residents are worried for local wildlife.

On Tuesday, 10 On Your Side went down to Granby Shores, near the approach to Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk. A bald eagle was in flight, as is normal for that area. Nearby resident Robin Beahr took pictures of the eagles at the end of the Chambers Field runway just Tuesday morning.

“[The Navy] took out the serene coast of trees where the eagles’ habitat was,” Robin’s husband, Chris Beahr, told WAVY.com. He said when the Navy started stripping the trees near the runway in the fall, he contacted Rep. Scott Rigell. The congressman asked the Navy about it and got a letter in reply from Naval Station Norfolk’s commanding officer.

Document: Navy’s letter to Rep. Rigell

In the letter, Capt. R.E. Clark told Rigell the tree removal was required by Department of Defense guidelines for airfields and heliports. He said the guidelines make sure there are no obstructions for pilots flying to and from the base.

“Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Airfield Obstructions Management Plan revealed that there were no bald eagle nests on NSN nor were there any within the buffer zone required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Capt. Clark also wrote to Rigell.

Clark went on to say that “Natural Resources professionals” inspected the trees in October and November and found no nests.

10 On Your Side told Beahr the Navy claimed there were no eagle nests in the trees it is cutting down. To that, he replied,”They are saying they did their due diligence … it’s false. They aren’t telling the truth.”

So do Eagle’s nest in that area? Apparently they do.

There is a huge nest in the backyard of a woman who doesn’t want to be identified. She told WAVY.com, “We love these eagles.  We see them every single morning … and what the Navy’s done is terrible … it looks bald.”

The Navy made several efforts to let the public know about the tree cutting project in September and October, including a letter that was distributed to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Document: Letter from Navy to neighbors

Tuesday, heavy equipment could be seen on the Navy’s property, carrying away trees that Granby Shores residents insist from their own eyewitness accounts were once homes of bald eagles.

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