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Its easy to know your trees

Charlie Smith
Wednesday July 10, 2002

To the Editor: 

Thanks for the fine article describing my concerns about dangerous trees. The writer was very diligent in contacting the other persons for a variety of comments. 

Jerry Koch, senior arborist for the city misrepresents my views when he says I want to tell Berkeley residents what kinds of trees they should plant, which I do not. 

What I have in mind is that the city should provide a description sheet of details about each specific tree for persons who are planning to plant a seedling. Citizens need to know the longterm details so they can make very reasoned decisions based on most of the facts. (Extreme height, shallow roots, shed badly, frequent limb drops, kill birds, highly flammable, etc. These problems all exist at Indian Rock Park.) 

Some forestry experts have pointed out that a high percentage of the trees on a city list published by Mr. Koch are exotic trees which are not suitable for Berkeley. I'll be glad to furnish the names of those experts if requested. Just because a state agency furnishes seedlings does not guarantee their suitability. 

The city of Albany has published a list that fulfills most of the descriptions of a few of their trees. 

The city of El Cerrito has a Tree Demonstration Project with trees alongside BART near the Del Norte Station. Trees there are supposedly suitable for parks, parking between sidewalks and curbs, and back yards. However, of those trees, three are obviously not suitable. They are a midwest Oak which needs summer rain; a Norwegian maple which has highly invasive surface roots which go out about thirty feet; and a Chinese tree which sheds badly and is dangerous at certain times of the year. 

The Berkeley City Parks Commission recently asked city staff to furnish them with monthly lists of limb drops and fallen trees.  

We all need this information. Following the 1967 city manager's request that all local reports be available in city libraries, any person who is interested should have ready access to the data needed without bothering city staff. 

Once the various lists are compiled, I am certain citizens will find them very helpful. Mr. John Wagers, author of tree articles for The Monclarion, suggests that the Grecian Laurel, Saratoga hybrid would be one of the excellent trees for this area. He has furnished me with a spec sheet on it which I will place in local libraries along with other data which I have assembled. 


Charlie Smith