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CLIVE, Iowa (AP) — The central Iowa city of Clive plans to straighten its scenic Greenbelt Trail to cut down on its high number of blind curves. But to do that, it also will be cutting down hundreds of trees.

The city has begun removing more than 400 trees along the trail, The Des Moines Register reported .

City officials say the changes are needed to improve safety — especially from speeding bikes — and to protect against erosion and flooding from nearby Walnut Creek.

But some trail users worry the changes will irreparably damage the path’s chief features: its twists and turns and the overhead canopy of mature trees.

“It’s the most beautiful trail I’ve ever seen,” said Chris Wolf, a Des Moines resident who walks the greenbelt trail every day as part of his dog-walking business. “Cutting down 400 trees is egregious. Once the big trees are down, they’re down. They’re not coming back.”

Officials estimate about 438 trees will be cleared, most of them smaller. But officials say about 20 of the doomed trees have trunks more than 24 inches in diameter. The city plans to plant new trees once the project is complete.

The project is the first on a long list of changes outlined in a 25-year, $41 million master plan for the entire greenbelt system.

The half-mile segment of trail was identified as having the most immediate need because it’s where Walnut Creek flows the fastest, Assistant City Manager Matt McQuillen said.

“If we don’t do something, it will eventually erode the trail away,” he said.

Tree removal and restoration of two oxbow lakes are slated to be complete by winter. The trail realignment will take place next summer.


Information from: The Des Moines Register,