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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When you picture a beach paradise you might imagine beautiful sand, crashing waves, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. But in Wilmington, those tropical trees have become trunks.

“I just hate to see a tree get taken down when it doesn’t have to be,” Richard Buggeln said.

Buggeln says he and his wife walk at Wrightsville Beach about three times a week, passing the palm trees lining Eastwood Road near the drawbridge every time, until now.

“The trees have started, a couple of them have already fallen themselves due to disease, and it was time to go ahead and remove them and replace the trees,” NC DOT Engineer Joe Chance said.

Chance says at least 7 of the 19 palm trees, put in several years ago, were diseased. But Buggeln says this would not have been a problem if the DOT had just taken better care of the trees.

“If you have them you might as well maintain them,” Buggeln said. “It’s sort of like if you have a bad child. You’re stuck with them, you maintain them, and you do what you can for them. You just don’t get rid of them and tear them down.”

Instead, the area is infested with weeds, and now downed dead trees and stumps. But plans are underway to spruce up the area again.

“Working with the City of Wilmington, they are going to put in a multi-use path down through here,” Chance explained. “I don’t know the timeline on that, but we are going to go ahead and redo the whole area and hardscape it, make it look really nice.”

Chance says the DOT is replacing the palms with about six oak trees, but he won’t know until the end of the work week how much it cost to remove the trees. He says replacing the palms with oaks will cost $3,500 just for the trees.

City spokesman Dylan lee says the multi-use path, expected to go in sometime next year will extend the cross-city trail.

Comment on this Story

  • Billy465367

    The palm trees that were cut down were not diseased. They were sabal palmetto trees and they are disease resistant trees. They were not irrigated or cared for. What a shame and wasted of money. Thanks DOT

  • Pierre

    You do realize that the Roadside Environmental unit with NCDOT Division 3 has about 20 people on staff to cover SIX counties (Brunswick, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Sampson). Not exactly sure anybody can expect any regular irrigation/care from NCDOT with that staffing. If the residents want the palm trees back, they should get the City of Wilmington to see if they can take up some regular care of the trees.

  • Jasper Fant

    If the area is overgrown with weeds I have a suggestion. Why not have the Wrightsville Beach meter maids require all those fanatical “loop walkers” to work an hour pulling weeds for each hour they spend waddling around the loop?

  • Pierre

    Well that part of Eastwood Road is in the city of Wilmington…..

  • Me

    Are these palm trees native to North Carolina? While some non-native species may flourish in our climate there are plenty others that require consistent maintenance and care to thrive. Many local experienced landscapers know this, why not the individuals in charge at NC DOT?

  • beach guy

    The dot is correct to remove these trees and replace them with native live oaks. Palm trees will not withstand the cold winters many died this past year those that did make it sustained considerable damage. It is always best to consider native plants in any landscape as they are better able to tolerate extremes in weather. The landscape plants that many choose are from the palate of plants that are proven to be disease and weather tolerant. That is why you see the same plants in different varieties over and over again. If your want variety in your landscape research the different varieties of the same species there are literally thousands of different azaleas and Camilla to choose from as well as Hollies, Oaks, Crape Myrtles, and Grasses and there are so many perennials it boggles the mind. As a Landscape professional I try and educate any person I meet in the proper way to choose a plant or landscape design that best suits their needs and will conform to the tried and true plants.

  • beach guy

    How big are these trees and where are they getting them ?
    For close to six hundred bucks each(at wholesale) they should be whoppers!


    Contrary to the above comment, Sabal palmetto ARE NATIVE to southeastern NC. To the contrary, crape myrtles, most azaleas, many hollies, and all camellias are native to the Far East and NOT North Carolina. Palmettos are very appropriate for this area and will flourish if properly planted and maintained. The best way to plant Palmettos is to plant container grown plants from local sources. They will be far hardier than palms brought in from Florida which have been dug out of the wild and their tops and roots cut off. Could a mature oak tree be treated this way and look good or even survive? “Beach guy” may want to get his facts straight before he comments next time.


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