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July 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

City drops tree-cutting charges against former Magnuson Park volunteer

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office  has dropped charges against a former Magnuson Park volunteer land steward accused of wrongly cutting down trees.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department requested the charges against Kurt Zwar, which were filed in April. But on Thursday, Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams asked that the charged be dropped, writing that while “it is clear to us that Mr. Zwar broke the law …” he has since stayed away from the park and not cut down any more trees.

“We are satisfied with this outcome,” Williams told the City Attorney’s Office.

Zwar’s case was highlighted in Danny Westneat’s column on Wednesday.

Zwar estimates he logged 2,400 hours in two years, plus spent $2,000 of his own money buying native plants to help the park. Last year, he hacked down 10 small poplar trees with an ax. The city’s own management plan says this tree is a high-priority target to be removed from the park. But some parks employees told him to stop and later called the police.

City Attorney’s Office Criminal Division Chief Craig Sims in a statement today wrote that the charges of destroying park property were filed because there was a “good-faith basis to believe Mr. Zwar’s actions violated the law.” But, he wrote, the office has decided to respect and honor Williams’ request, as he “was satisfied with the remedies achieved outside of the court of law.”

Zwar could have faced up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine, if convicted, though City Attorney Pete Holmes’ office said it was seeking only community service.

CORRECTED: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed comments by City Attorney’s Office Criminal Division Chief Craig Sims to City Attorney Pete Holmes.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Danny Westneat, Magnuson Park, trees

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