Thursday, January 13, 2011

Arcadia Woodlands Massacred

Here we are in Southern California, supposedly one of the most ecologically aware States in the US, and here yet again we see mindless, pointless destruction of life enhancing trees.

Arcadia Woodlands- in the wash of the San Gabriel Mountains- has been described as a Paradise, with its up till now unspoilt area of ancient native Coastal Oaks and Sycamores, providing shelter for a multitude of wildlife apart from its environmental and aesthetic benefits to human beings. Because of its proximity to the Santa Anita reservoir, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works has decided to destroy 179 Coastal Oaks and 70 Sycamores to accommodate 500.000 cubic yards of waste dredged from the reservoir. Apparently other locations have been available but for some reason- presumably, as always, based on money- this idyllic, 11 acre woodland has been chosen.

Credit: Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times

Credit: Camron Stone
Click to see his album

Protesters have been working hard to peacefully save the trees, but today were ignored as the DPW's contractors moved in to bulldoze them down. Renowned tree activist John Quigley (who trained Santa Monica Treesavers in our efforts to save the Ficus trees in Downtown Santa Monica in 2008/9) was sitting in one of the Oaks at 4am, together with three other protesters in three other trees, but they were taken into custody at 8pm.

Self-portrait John Quigley, on limb of Oak in Arcadia. Credit: John Quigley

Daryl Hannah- another tree activist- came to show solidarity. Representatives of the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club also showed their support.

By nightfall today (Wednesday January 12th) about 90% of the woodlands were reduced to the aftermath of a battlefield.

I find this so hard to comprehend. We all- from schoolchildren to seniors- are constantly made aware of the necessity for trees in our fragile, collapsing ecosystem, so how can all this knowledge be ignored? Aside from the wonderful benefits of trees, how can we show them so little respect? Trees are living beings; scientists have proved how they actually react to pain and interact with each other when in crisis. I am more and more confused why humans should disregard the rights and importance of other forms of life, just because we are in a position to dominate them. Misused power is very frightening.

Today I regretted not being in Arcadia to show my support. I was in a pre-arranged meeting in Santa Monica City Hall between fellow Treesavers and Rod Gould, Santa Monica's new City Manager, who is commendably prepared to listen to Treesavers' concerns about our Urban Forest. Let's hope that by us maintaining a dialogue and co-operating with the City and with the Urban Forest Task Force we can help to create a better understanding of the value of trees within the whole community- including politicians .

To see what we have heartbreakingly lost in Arcadia, click on this link for Kevin Breckner of Time River Productions' recent video of the Arcadia Woodlands, filmed in spite of intimidation from guards.

Los Angeles Times report

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