There are times when we can hug trees with the best of them. But let's face it: Most of the 400 or so specimens that will be uprooted to ease the final path for the space shuttle Endeavour aren't worth all that passionate an embrace.
The California Science Center has aroused deeply rooted sentiment against its plans for shuttling the retired shuttle from Los Angeles International Airport along surface streets in Inglewood and Los Angeles to the museum in Exposition Park. The controversy arose because the move will involve cutting down hundreds of trees along major thoroughfares.
Better to look at it another way: This is progress, and not just in the sense of a shiny high-tech behemoth mowing down nature. For all the talk about these historic shade-giving symbols of nature, only about 50 of the 265 or so trees that will be sacrificed in Los Angeles are taller than 15 feet. Of those 50, 20 are nuisance trees that are tearing up sidewalks or causing similar problems; the city wants those gone.
For each tree it cuts down, the museum will plant two trees of the species most favored by the individual neighborhoods, along the same streets. Museum officials promise that in two to five years, the new trees will rival the originals in size. They're even throwing in two years of arborist work to ensure that the trees become established. All this will cost $2 million to $3 million.