BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A community group dedicated to planting trees around Western New York is angry after vandals destroyed newly planted trees in Buffalo’s Sperry Park.

Re-Tree WNY formed after more than 50,000 trees around Western New York were damaged in the 2006 October Surprise Storm. They’ve planted tens of thousands of trees since then with the help of community volunteers.

This Saturday those volunteers put shovels in the ground at Sperry Park in Buffalo only to later have their hard work destroyed.

“Trees have been mowed down, pretty much savagely. Taken right out of the ground and left here to dry up,” said Paul Maurer, chairman, Re-Tree WNY.

When Maurer checked up on the 20 trees volunteers planted over the weekend, he found a mess. Many of the donated trees ran down and pulled out of the ground.

You can see tire marks in the ground from where they were run over, and some propped up next to other trees.

“Generally people really appreciate what we’ve done and if you look at some of the areas where we’ve planted there’s a dramatic change in the uplifting of the neighborhood,” said Maurer.

Maurer said he and his volunteers are focusing their efforts on Buffalo’s East Side. For this project, they worked with the City of Buffalo to choose the Sperry Park location.

“A neighborhood is better valued, people take care of the neighborhood, they’re proud of the neighborhood,” added Maurer. “You’ll see less crime, less problems, you’ll see just a lifting of spirits when trees are planted and it’s got a beautiful streetscape.”

The City of Buffalo Deputy Commissioner of Parks Andrew Rabb released a statement saying, “The city is aware of the recent damage to trees planted by volunteers in Sperry Park, and will continue to coordinate with ReTree WNY on engaging the public with respect to the many benefits of trees.”

As for Maurer, he said this won’t stop the group’s mission.

“We won’t be thwarted by this,” said Maurer. “We’re going to continue. We just ask for the cooperation of the people in the neighborhoods to watch over trees that were planted.”

Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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