CAMDEN (AP) – After more than a decade of planning and nearly two weeks of cutting, the last of about 170 trees has been cut from a 1.7-mile stretch between Camden Village and Camden Hills State Park.

“The trees are gone, and that is that,” said Rosemarie Nervelle, a protester.

who lives in Camden’s historic district and joined several protests against what some believed was excessive cutting of the tree canopy over the coastal highway.

Maine Department of Transportation crews began cutting and pruning trees earlier this month, the first phase of a $6 million highway improvement project that will include an improved roadway, granite curbing, new utility lines and poles and a sidewalk connecting the village with the state park.

The U.S. 1 project is scheduled to last for another 18 months. While the cutting was unpopular with some, Camden Town Manager Roberta Smith said most citizens she had spoken with were pleased with the way the state handled the project.

The town’s tree warden, Bart Wood, monitored the tree-cutting operations that began Sept. 10, she said.

Hoping to avoid a situation like one in Warren two years ago when some tree-cutting protesters climbed and tied themselves to trees, state transportation officials worked closely with Camden officials this summer as the highway project was planned.

About 200 protesters attended a rally July 3 on Camden’s Village Green and marched to the state park later that day. Two save-the-tree groups created a Web site to promote their cause to “stop the DOT chain saw massacre.”

But only seven protesters showed up when the project started, and there were no arrests.

On the Net:

Maine Transportation Department, U.S. Route 1 project:

AP-ES-09-23-04 0818EDT

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