Subcommittee Makes Progress with Oak Tree Reparations

By Gary Meyer
FRAZIER PARK, California (Monday, July 19, 2010, 5:31 p.m.)–The group that is exploring solutions to the Frazier Park Library construction site oak tree disaster has made progress in talks with Kern County.

Kern County General Services Division Director Matt Pontes and Construction Services Manager Mark Russell met Monday via conference call with Anne Weber, Linda Robredo and Frazier Park architect Max Williams.

These are items covered in the discussion:

1) Mountain Arts & Recreation Coalition (MARC) will sign a contract with Kern County so wood from the destroyed oaks can be taken from GroundBreakers to Veterans for Trees in Cuddy Valley. The oak is being considered for use in making artworks for use at the new library.

2) Five trees were described for planting on the new library site as replacements for the destroyed oaks: one each 60-, 48-, and 36-inch box trees plus two 24-inch box trees. Max Williams said he’d rather see two larger oaks than a larger quantity of smaller ones, so in the event of competition for canopy space, larger oaks could take priority. This is to be discussed further.

3) Who will be the arborist? Matt Pontes said that Ralph Villasenor of Valley Crest Tree Co. is being hired by the Roads Department for the walking path project in the park, so the library project will likely hire him also for consulting on the library site oaks. He will begin working on the project in about a week.

4) Anne Weber raised the question about a story published in The Mountain Enterprise regarding the lift driver who was observed hitting the Park Drive oak tree while driving into the library site parking lot. Mark Russell repeated what he said in the newspaper: "If one more of these guys hits a tree, he’s off the job permanently." The Mountain Enterprise reported that neighborhood resident Gary Sherfey observed the driver hitting the Park Drive oak twice, leaving visible damage to the oak’s bark.

5) Discussion of what kind of wood chips were put down for mulch in the park and on the construction site. Russell said he checked numerous times with the supplier to confirm that Douglas fir chips were used for mulch. Linda Robredo said she showed samples of those chips to more than one nursery professional and they said the chips looked like redwood. Russell assured her that the chips are confirmed as Douglas Fir. Documents corroborating the type of chips used for mulch were promised to be faxed but have not been received by The Mountain Enterprise.

6) In discussion of how deep to spread the mulch, Mark Russell said he consulted with an arborist who handled the case of an oak on a construction site in Santa Clarita. He reported that the arborist said a temporary protective layer of chips of nine to 12 inches deep while construction is in progress is beneficial. After construction is finished, the mulch can be brought down to 3 inches. Max Williams said the the problem is that the compaction has already occurred, so what’s the point (speaking about the trees in the park)? Russell said that because Kern County Roads Department’s walkway project will be underway in the coming month, they need to have the temporary protective layer until that project is completed.

7) Anne Weber said there is a desire in the community to have an oak tree ordinance in Kern County. Matt Pontes said there are also other groups in the county (the Tree Foundation of Kern, another one in Tehachapi and another elsewhere) that are working on a tree ordinance. He suggested that Lorelei Oviatt would be a good source of furher information on that.

A report will be made to the Municipal Advisory Council on Tuesday, July 20 at 7 p.m., at the Frazier Mountain Park Community Center.

This is part of the July 16, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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