PLYMOUTH, Minn. - A group of Plymouth residents are outraged at the prospect of losing more than 1000 trees in their backyards.

"We're going to damage the woods, there's no doubt," says John O'Hara, whose backyard is made up of some of the trees in question.

The trees are in Joann Atkins backyard also. "They don't understand why we want to improve someone's quality of life over there. And yet we're able to destroy the quality of life over here," said Atkins.

The trees line a small stream near Rockford Road and Highway 169 and are slated for demolition as part of a $1 million water quality improvement project for Northwood Lake in New Hope.

The problem is that the tree canopy is too thick and ground vegetation is too thin. This allows phosphorous and pollutants to run into the stream and eventually Northwood Lake, where water quality is poor.

By removing several trees within 30 feet on each side of the stream, sunlight will allow native plants and grasses to grow within that zone to filter incoming water and prevent erosion.

New Hope residents who live on Northwood Lake are eager to see the project started. Bob White lives on the lake, "I don't like cutting down trees, but something needs to be done to improve the quality of that area."

THe potential project is progress, but it's not a cure-all.

"It's gonna be a combination of shoreline restoration and rain gardens, street sweeping and education," explains Plymouth Water Resources Manager Derek Asche.

With the trees' future undetermined, opinions remain strong.

Atkins adds, "We have several owls and several species of woodpeckers and all these will disappear."

Originally set to begin in December, this project will likely be delayed.

The Basset Creek Watershed Commission requested more information on the tree removal process as well as possible alternatives to the water quality problem in a meeting Thursday morning.

When and if the commission does approve a plan, Plymouth City Council will vote on the matter.

Construction cannot begin until that time.

Originally planned for mid-December, the project now likely is pushed back by months, says Asche. And with the opposition shown by Plymouth residents at Thursday's meeting, Asche wonders if it will be completed as planned at all. The Plymouth City Council may be forced to consider alternate options.

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