At the end of November, residents learned that two mature blue gums (eucalyptus) adjacent to the new Veterans Gardens at the Palisades Recreation Center were being targeted for removal.
Cindy Kirven, who heads the Palisades Forestry Committee (under the aegis of the Community Council), wrote an email as a private citizen to City officials and asked:
1) Why is L.A. Recreation and Parks planning on removing these high-value trees, rather than managing them as recommended?
2) Why is there a rush to remove these trees, which do not pose any immediate risk?
3) Why is L.A. Recreation and Parks responding to complaints of only one or a few individuals?
On December 10, Community Council President David Card wrote Kirven that he had learned from Steve Dunlap (principal grounds maintenance Supervisor II of Recreation and Parks Forestry) that “follow-up testing revealed fatal decay in one but not the other. One will come down, the other trimmed and annually inspected.”
Card shared an email from Dunlap to Michael Shull, Recreation and Parks general manager stating: “After receiving the Consulting Arborist report from Walt Warriner, a Consulting Arborist, we were able to have Davey Tree, the Company that performed our inventory under our Cal Fire Grant, perform a step two inspection of the two Blue Gum Eucalyptus at Palisades Rec Center park adjacent to the new Bocce Ball Courts.
“Davey found after doing the two-step inspection that one of the trees had extensive decay caused by a sulfur rot that had compromised approximately 30 percent of the root crown and along with [the tree’s] lean into the park, they assessed this tree to be in the hazard range and recommended removal as soon as possible.
“The other tree has no visible signs of decay or indicators at this time of being hazardous, but they recommended that the tree be monitored on a yearly basis for signs of decay,” Dunlap wrote. “They also recommended that the tree be pruned to avoid any potential hazardous conditions. Which we will do.”
Shull thanked Dunlap for the information and included the Recreation Center and several community members in his email so that everybody could be informed.
Resident Bill Bruns, a member of the Palisades Forestry Committee, wrote, “I appreciate that the City has given us a detailed description of what they are now going to do re: the two trees, and why. I’m wondering: what causes sulfur rot? Is there any way to prevent sulfur rot from inflicting the surviving tree?”
CTN reached out to Dunlap, who provided a website that explained: The fungi enter the tree at wound areas, which are caused by improper pruning, lightning strikes, windstorms, fire, construction, or other means of tree damage. “Preventing tree wounds is the best defense against any of the various heart rots infection trees.”
Sulfur mushroom fungus infects a large number of trees, including eucalyptus, and is one of the most serious causes of decay in oaks.