A rendering from Public Works of the 34th Street entrance rest area of the Wrigley Greenbelt Project.

City officials said this week they halted tree cutting on a greenbelt project in the Wrigley neighborhood a few weeks ago to reevaluate the impact on birds following criticism that trees were being cut down during nesting season.

The Wrigley Greenbelt Project, which stretches from DeForest Avenue from 26th Way to 34th Street along the eastern side of the 710 Freeway, launched in 2007 with the intention of restoring and preserving the open space. Other planned benefits, officials said during a presentation this week, include improved pedestrian connectivity along the Los Angeles River, and improving air quality from green buffers along the I-710 corridor.

Currently, the space, officials say, is filled with old or dead trees that will be replaced by mostly smaller, younger trees in its place at a 2-to-1 ratio. The trees, officials say, also need to be removed so that it can make way for the project’s layout.

Of the existing 97 trees, 61 trees will be kept in place, officials said. So far, public works has removed 20 trees between 34th Street to Spring Street—with plans to cut down 16 more from Spring Street to 24th Way.

A few residents expressed concerns over the tree removals, saying they might still be used as nesting spots for birds. The city’s Public Works Department Director Eric Lopez said they halted tree trimming and cutting last month so that experts could investigate the concern over nesting even further.

Jennifer Carey, the community relations officer for public works, said pre-construction activities such as fencing, field walks and sign installations began in January. In the beginning of March, an arborist evaluated trees for bird nests before giving the OK to cut trees and stayed on site since the start of the project, she said.

But, public works halted any tree trimmings and removals on March 19 after receiving criticism from residents. They then brought in a biologist to evaluate the greenbelt for any active bird nests on March 24. The biologist, Carey said, found one nest, but it was deemed inactive.

As criticism continued, the department took it one step further and said it will bring in a second biologist to reevaluate the area “just to be safe,” Carey said. The second biologist is scheduled to reevaluate sometime next week, she said. Other project activities such as weed abatement and shrub trimming continues in the meantime, she said.

Tree operations will resume soon, with work expected to be complete by the end of April. Carey said they might need to modify their plans depending on what the second biologists finds.

More details about the projects can be viewed here.