Hundred-year-old oak in the Village too sick to save

With the sunshine glinting on its branches one last time, Claremont said goodbye to the fatally wounded live oak on the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Indian Hill Boulevard early Thursday morning.

The tree, estimated to be more than 100 years old, was unable to be saved following the loss of one of its two primary branches last month, which left the live oak with a large wound and decay deep into its trunk. The eastern branch of the heritage tree had fallen and knocked down cable lines, requiring Claremont’s city yard on-call staff and the LA County Fire Department to respond to the scene where they spent roughly six hours working together to remove the fallen limb.

Paul Cranmer, community services manager and certified  arborist with the city of Claremont, says that although the exterior of the live oak appeared to be in good health, the interior was damaged beyond salvation.

“We had four arborists in addition to myself assess the tree and the wound,” said Mr. Cranmer. “Unfortunately, the amount of decay into the trunk has left the tree in bad shape and it will need to come down.”

Five men from West Coast Arborists, including an area manager and arborist, set up shop and began dismantling the tree, limb-by-limb, around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, making quick work of the project and attracting stares from Claremonters wondering what was going on with the elder oak.

Residents Jo Fulton and Lee Bailey were taking their daily morning walk down Indian Hill when they came across the tree. The ladies took a moment to admire the oak in all its glory one final time before continuing on their journey.

“It’s so sad to see such a lovely old tree go,” said Ms. Fulton, “It’s just a shame they have to cut it down.”

While the tree’s branches were immediately mulched on site, the trunk will be saved and dried with the hope of repurposing it. “We want to do something special with the trunk like a memorial bench and possibly a table,” says Mr. Cranmer. “Drying the wood will take about a year, but we have plans to honor the tree with a future placement within the city.”

The mulch created by the oak will be taken to the city yard and will be available to residents at a later date.

—Angela Bailey


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