Saturday, January 08, 2005

Leave your oaks alone, folks...

It was bound to happen. Still, I was rather shocked to see this when I drove down Kenneth Avenue in Carmichael yesterday:

The property on which the tree sits, er, uh, sat is right across the street from a school. I've watched parents and their little ones parking under this tree for years. I've also watched the tree being systematically and publicly abused for years.

In the past, I've called the Sacramento County Tree Coordinator whenever I happened upon a tree assault in progress. Our Tree Coordinator is currently a man... a nice man facing the difficult task of enforcing a native oak ordinance that is given very little weight in populated areas. He does what he can, but the bottom line is that most of Carmichael's oaks are on private property... and in private backyards where nobody can see ya whip out the chainsaw (wink, wink).

My interpretation of the County's take on the ordinance (in other words, I'm paraphrasing) is that, because of the potential for trees to fall on people, houses, and cars, enforcement of the ordinance is futile except in areas with intact woodlands and no peeps... woodlands like those being plundered in the controversial Bickford Ranch development.

Here's the upshot-- if a protected tree bites the dust here in Carmichael, the County might plant an oak seedling replacement... well, wherever there's any open space left in the county. Ha ha.

Still, isn't it worth preserving existing oaks as best we can? Can't we do better as homeowners? These magnificent and gorgeous trees are part of our natural and cultural heritage and can live for 300+ years! If treated properly, they ain't gonna fall on your house. Or your minivan. Or you.

Let's just say I am not surprised to see the above oak's demise and the crashing results of such an end.

Things done to the above tree that should never have been done:

1. large heading cuts (last year)
2. landscaping within 8 feet of the crown
3. installation of paving and irrigation within 8 feet of the tree's crown
4. thirsty plant selections such as: roses, azaleas and Japanese maples

To learn how to care for native oaks like the Valley oak, Interior live oak, and blue oaks, visit The California Oak Foundation website.

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