$50,000 for tree poisoning | TheUnion.com

$50,000 for tree poisoning

John R. Fitzhenry brought closure to a nearly year-old issue with land regulators Wednesday, carrying $50,000 less in his pocket and humble words on his lips.

“This was the most foolish thing I’ve ever done,” Fitzhenry told the seven-member legal committee of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Staff discovered last summer he’d poisoned three Jeffrey pines on his $2.4 million property in Dollar Point.

He said he was deeply sorry and regretful for his actions.

The Silicon Valley executive raised the ire of conservationists and board members in February, who shot down an initial $17,000 proposed fine, calling it paltry.

Fitzhenry’s lawyer, Drew Briner, said his client hoped the fine would go toward future protection and restoration of Lake Tahoe. The man has also agreed to a fully restore vegetation on his property.

“Staff takes no pleasure from discovering violations and assessing fines,” TRPA lead lawyer Joanne Marchetta told the legal committee. “We would prefer that everyone understand the fragile ecosystem at Lake Tahoe so that harmful acts for the exclusive enjoyment of individuals do not destroy the resource that can be enjoyed by all.”

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