Last spring, a number of large cottonwoods were cut down on an abutting neighbor’s yard and felled into the Hollywood Hill Association’s 10 Acre Woods portion, leaving an unsightly mess and damaging other trees. 

Six months later, the large trunks remain but nearly everything else has changed. 

“The manner of felling was unfortunate,” said Michael Tanksley, HHA president. “But removal of the aging cottonwoods and restoration activities underway are ingredients to a process that will make this grove a healthier and more lovely part of the woods in the decades to come.”

Tanksley said roughly nine to 11 cottonwoods were felled into the HHA property without permission. One specific tree initially located outside the neighbor’s property line caused the most collateral damage by knocking over a large cedar in the 10 Acre Woods.   

The best thing to do with any tree that falls in the woods, he said, is to let it lie there and rot and turn back into soil systems. Cottonwoods, the largest broadleaf tree west of the Mississippi, typically stand 120 to 140-feet-tall and die after 80 to 100 years. 


News of the tree felling garnered the attention of outraged neighbors and residents, many whom took to the woods to help clean much of the debris. 

Tanksley said much of the area impacted by the felling has been rehabilitated and replanted with 35 seedlings comprised of native climax species. The trees were paid for by the neighbor who felled the cottonwoods and the planting was accomplished by volunteers from the Hollywood Hill neighborhood, he noted. The HHA expects to plant 20 more this spring after the rehab is completed. 

Neighborhood volunteers have helped to remove two major areas of invasive English Ivy and the HHA plans to organize more ivy removal parties next summer, Tanksley said. The HHA also purchased gravel, which was carried in with local tractor operators and spread by a group of high school students earning community service hours. With the major mud puddles filled, he added, a second phase has been approved by the HHA board.

"The women and men who volunteered to plant these trees are a testament of our hopes for the future generations who will enjoy this little forest long after we have moved on," he said.

History of the 10 Acre Woods dates back to a 1979 settlement agreement between the HHA and developers of English Hill. The 10 Acre Woods is part of a 20 Acre greenbelt with ownership split between the two associations. Both parcels are maintained for public non-motorized uses.

The permanent, public open space is used for people to walk, run, bike or ride horses. Tanksley said roughly two-thirds of the area has been redone since the trees fell last spring.

King County confirmed that no permit was required for the cottonwood felling, Tanksley said. As a result, King Conservation District has been working with the HHA to develop a new Forest Plan. 

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