A contractor hired by the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee began removing trees this week that fell along the Douglaston park's footpath during a storm last summer, committee leaders said.
The group, which is made up of volunteers whose aim is to preserve the Udalls Cove inlet at Little Neck Bay, had originally hoped the city's Department of Parks and Recreation would remove the downed trees.
But Walter Mugdan, the committee's president, said the agency told his group that it could take a long time for the site to be cleaned up.
"The Parks Department said it could take a couple of years, if ever," Mugdan said. "They are stretched thin in the best of times. We never expected that Parks would be able to put this high on its list. All we wanted was a permit to remove the trees, which they readily gave to us."
Little Neck's Tielis Landscaping company has agreed to provide an estimated $2,000 worth of free tree removal as a public service, Mugdan said. The contractor began work this week.
The trees came crashing down onto the park's footpath following a June 24 storm. But the park was not further damaged during a Sept. 16 tornado that knocked over trees, power lines and roofs in northeast Queens.
Mugdan said he was not sure exactly how many trees had fallen along the paths near the Virginia Point section of Udalls Cove, which is located at the northern end of Little Neck Parkway near the Douglaston and Little Neck border. He estimated there is a minimum of 10 to 15 trees.
"It's a rough estimate," he said. "We can't get into the park's interior until we clear the trees, so there may be more that we cannot see."
Bruce Stuart, first vice president of the committee, said the paths will be cleared at the park, but the trees will remain at the site.
"All waste is being generated into chips to put back on the trails or left as logs to degrade naturally and enrich the soil," he said.
Mugdan said there is additional maintenance work necessary for the Aurora Pond section of Udalls Cove.
The committee has fought to preserve the park, much of which is now protected as a wildlife preserve by the city, since 1970. During its November meeting, Community Board 11 listed the acquisition of several lots in the cove's ravine as the top capital expense budget priority for 2011.
"This will be a continuing project over a period of years," Mugdan said of the park's upkeep. " We have to keep vegetation cut back and put wood chips on surface trails. It's a perpetual maintenance obligation."