The shortage of trees in the bay area got a little shorter recently when former Tampa Bay Buccaneer/Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens/New York Jets/Dallas Cowboys/New England Patriots/Carolina Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde cut down a few on his new lakefront Odessa property.
By a few I mean around 40 or so (not Vinny's ex-trees pictured at left; the actual trees are now appearing in a mulch bag in a Lowe's near you). They could have filmed an episode of Ax Men at his house. Sheesh, Vinny, why so many? There are people around here that would freakin' kill for that many trees on their property.
The Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission came to the rescue and cited him for cutting down the cypress trees because they were in a protected wetland area. Testaverde said he didn't realize it was a big problem. He apparently had a landscaping company cut the trees down and they never said anything about it being illegal.
"You've got to rely on the advice of these people. Whoever cut down the trees didn't do a very good job of informing him," Clayton Studstill, Testaverde's attorney, told the Tampa Tribune. (We did not make up his attorney's name, we swear. Studstill.)
OK, getting bad landscaping advice is understandable. It's puzzling that he would want to de-tree his property to any extent, but I guess I can believe he didn't realize he was doing something illegal. And putting aside any environmental implications caused to the waterway next to his house, or any possible deed-restrictions he may have violated, or the pissing-off of his new neighbors, it is his place after all. He should be able to cut down any trees not located in a protected wetland area of his property.
As punishment, the EPC ordered Testaverde to plant 40 15-gallon cypress trees on the property within 30 days and make sure they all survive for one year. Testaverde didn't want to replace all the trees, so the EPC caved and said he could plant 20 30-gallon trees instead, along with some herbaceous plants along the shoreline.
If he doesn't like that, the EPC will probably let him plant a single 600-gallon tree, only mow the lawn every third week, and do the edging only in a month that ends in a 'y' or a consonant.
That's wetlands mitigation for you. You know what they say, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
It will probably be a few years before Testaverde's new trees mature enough for the property to be returned to its previous ecological state. Understandably, Testaverde's neighbors aren't happy about the whole mess.
I wouldn't eat any of that house-warming pie, Vinny.
photo by saveena(AKA LHDugger)