Sun City director vows to get to root of tree poisoning

You might ask what kind of a misfit would deliberately destroy a tiny forest of pine trees on a golf course so he might have a better view of the Strip, or a better view of somebody hitting a golf ball, or maybe just to satisfy some kind of dysfunctional jollies?

Well, that’s what happened to approximately 13 stately pines at Highland Falls Golf Course in Sun City Summerlin.

Whatever the reason, there is such a sick puppy out there, and he or she is not alone. That kind of thing has been going on for some time, not only in Sun City but in other communities and golf courses in Summerlin.

“I know of 30 trees that were poisoned at Summerlin North, where I was on the board before I came here,” said Patty Rosia, executive director of Sun City Summerlin.

“Someone has been drilling holes in approximately 13 of those pines between holes 13 and 14 at Highland Falls Golf Course,” she said. “Then they poured a chemical in the holes to poison and intentionally kill those trees.”

The dead trees were once magnificent pines that stood some 15 to 20 feet tall. They were planted almost 20 years ago when the Highland Falls course first opened.

It takes many years for trees to reach such a height. Pine trees are commonly grown on golf courses to beautify the surroundings and to protect homes from being hit by errant balls.

“What they have done to those trees is a criminal act,” Rosia said. “We have filed a report with the police, and Metro has assured us they will investigate the situation.”

There have been similar attacks against golf course trees in Sun City over the years. As a one-time golfer who moved into the community in 1995, I have seen stumps where trees were deliberately cut down along Eagle Crest, Palm Valley and Highland Falls golf courses. I have also seen the remains of trees that had been poisoned at the same courses.

Of course, nobody could prove that these malicious acts were committed ostensibly so residents could have a better view. A better view of what? So they could sit on a lounge chair and view the Strip at night?

Maybe those responsible for poisoning the tall pines at Highland Falls never heard of the beautiful poem titled “Trees,” first published 99 years ago and later adapted into a song. It was written by Alfred Joyce Kilmer, who wrote under the pen name Joyce Kilmer.

It begins, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

Rosia made it clear that “we will find the person or persons who did this. We (Sun City’s Board of Directors) have offered a reward of $1,000 to anyone who can provide a solid lead to those responsible for the deliberate killing of these trees.

“People sometimes do foolish things when it serves their own benefit. That’s community property they have destroyed.”

Rosia repeated several times, “We’ll find who did it. They have to be dealt with. We intend to follow up on any leads. I’m here to protect our community. That includes all community property.”

And trees that were planted to help beautify Sun City and its golf courses are a major element of community property.

Rosia said her office has sent out letters to more than 100 residents in the vicinity of the destroyed trees, appealing to anyone to come forward and help find the offender.

The rest of Kilmer’s beautiful poem is as follows:

“A tree whose hungry mouth is prest (sic) against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

“A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray;

“A tree that may in summer wear a nest of robins in her hair;

“Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

“Who intimately lives with rain.

“Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”

Kilmer fought with the famous “Fighting 69th” infantry regiment in World War I. He was killed in the second battle of Marne in 1918, at the age of 31. But his poem will live for perpetuity.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at