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West Valley Focus

TARZANA : Ecologist Criticizes Park Tree Planting

October 22, 1994|KAY HWANGBO

A state parks official has joined a group of community activists critical of plans by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to plant trees at a proposed park in Tarzana.

The conservancy, a state agency that acquires parkland, is planning to plant 300 trees in Reseda Ridge Park, which will be situated at the southern end of Reseda Boulevard.

Suzanne Goode, a resource ecologist with the state parks department, said at a meeting Monday that she is concerned because the trees are inconsistent with the type of vegetation that would naturally be growing in the area.

She complained the conservancy has not consulted her agency about the tree-planting plans.

The cost of irrigating the trees is also a concern, said Jill Swift, president of Friends of Caballero Canyon, which is near the park. She said it appears that the park's price tag has ballooned from $175,000 to more than $2 million, and questioned whether the park will be worth it.

Plans for the 20-acre park also call for restrooms, a ranger facility, play area and nature education area. The park will provide an entryway to an 18,500-acre wildlife area known as the "Big Wild."

Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the conservancy, defended the trees, saying that shade is critical in getting people to use the park. He said the benefits of having the trees outweigh the costs of irrigation.

Besides, he said, the conservancy has money from Proposition A--a county park bond act--to pay for their maintenance.

Edmiston said if the trees are such a problem, the conservancy would rather keep the parkland rather than force it onto the state, as previously planned.

"They've now said they don't want that area if it has areas (with trees)," he said. "If that's their position, then fine. We're not going to stick them with it."

Edmiston said his organization told state officials that they planned to put in the trees. He conceded that estimated park costs have gone up about $1 million.

"We were always going to put in a major park there," he said.

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