On Thursday morning, construction crews demolished an iconic tree on Balboa Peninsula Point. This tree was not only beloved by neighbors, but also had several species of federally protected birds nesting in it, and two types of herons, covered under the Federal Migratory Bird Act (which basically says you can’t mess with migratory bird habitats).
A woman stood under the tree with her child to prevent destruction of it, and by all accounts was verbally assaulted by the driver for Tim Greenleaf Engineering, whose employees have even continued insults in online forums.
Officials said the tree was on private property and therefore could be torn down without a permit. However, federal law prohibits anyone from disturbing or removing active birds’ nests from trees.
Daily Pilot reports that the company is now under active criminal investigation by state and local authorities.
Newport Beach animal-control officer Nick Ott said that his department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are investigating the crew for a possible misdemeanor violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Ott’s team took 10 baby birds to the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, Thursday. Two of the chicks were dead on arrival, Ott said.
Here is some video from PJ Culver of the destruction occurring: