Search underway for person chopping beloved trees in San Jose

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A different kind of hack took place recently in San Jose, tree after tree, after tree. (KGO-TV)

A different kind of hack took place recently in San Jose, tree after tree, after tree. And now, a search is underway for whoever is chopping down young trees after 46 trees were sawed down, in two separate incidents on Meridian Avenue and Dry Creek Road in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood.

President of the nonprofit Our City Forest Rhonda Berry estimates it took 1.5 hours to cut all the trees on one side down. Each one was cut halfway up the trunk.

It's a crime against nature but it's also a crime against volunteers who spent hours planting the trees, only to see them cut in half by a vandal. Volunteers planted the trees in April to beautify the avenue and help clear pollution from the air.

"This isn't good for the community. It's not good for all the volunteers that helped plant the trees. It's not good for the quality of life here. And it's not a good example to set for your children," she said Friday.

This is the second time the Chinese fringe and yew pine trees have been vandalized. Just over three weeks ago, another 23 of them were cut in half on the opposite side of the street, creating an emotional response from neighbors in Willow Glen.

"Seeing these trees hacked is just very disappointing for the people in the community," San Jose city councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio said.

It was Oliverio who funded the planting of the trees, taking the $25,000 out of his office budget. There is a campaign underway to raise money to replace the trees through the nonprofit Our City Forest. "I will allocate another portion of my office budget to this project if there's not enough funds to do it through donations," he said.

Oliverio says security cameras will also be installed to stop future vandalism. He's offering a $5,000 reward to find the culprit.

At the nursery operated by Our City Forest say they are not discouraged. "No, it doesn't discourage us. It would only push us to do more and push more positivity into Silicon Valley," Our City Forest volunteer Shirley Lim said.
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