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Ill 180-Year-Old Oak Removed From Park

May 26, 2000|COLL METCALFE

Another oak tree at Ojai's Libbey Park was felled by chain saws Thursday after tree doctors diagnosed it terminally ill and in danger of toppling.

Crews set to work early, first paring off the branches of the 110-foot valley oak before halving and quartering the thick trunk.

City officials had feared the oak, tipping precariously over the wood seats at Libbey Bowl, would fall and potentially injure concert-goers.

According to a city report, if the 180-year-old tree--called the "Grandmother Tree" by some--had fallen, it could have potentially taken out eight surrounding trees and the park's stage.

A team of arborists and plant pathologists examined the tree and determined that its root system was almost completely dead and the remaining wood was diseased.

With the Ojai Music Festival next week, officials said the tree had to come down for safety reasons.

The trees of Libbey Park have been a hot-button issue in Ojai.

Three other oaks at the park were cut in March, sparking protests among Ojai tree activists who contended the city had not fully assessed the trees before cutting them.

On Wednesday, a group of 30 people gathered around the tree to pay their respects with songs, poetry and stories about the oak.

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