City trees survive continued drought

If the trees along Foothill Boulevard look a little dry in the scorching heat, it may not be as dire as it seems.

The eucalyptuses that line the eastern entrance to the City of Trees are equipped with a water drip system to keep them alive while California suffers through a historic drought, according to Community Services Consultant Dave Roger.

“I know when you drive down it appears there is no water on the trees, but there are drip irrigation systems in place,” Mr. Roger said.

Those irrigation systems drip precious water via a series of soft brown tubing placed around the trees and covered in mulch. The tubes, which are about a half-inch in diameter, have drip emitters every 12 inches that send tiny droplets of water to keep the tree healthy.

The trees are watered twice a week, three hours per session. Around 270 gallons of water is used on the trees per week, according to Mr. Roger.

Mr. Roger also noted that the median trees are drought-resistant and tend to look a little shriveled in the arid summer months.

“In the heat of the summer they tend not to put on new growth,” he said.

The decline of certain trees throughout town is not due to lack of water, he noted, but due to outside factors such as tree borers and insects. One of the tree borers has affected stands in front of the Bernard Field Station on the north side of Foothill Boulevard.

“There’s one of those I noticed that has a lot of damage due to borers,” Mr. Roger said, also noting that many trees on College Avenue were lost due to borers.

Ultimately, Mr. Roger said the foliage in Claremont is improving ever since the state relaxed its water restrictions in June. The city has been taking advantage of these loosening restrictions by watering their city parks and trees more often, from twice a week to three times per week.

“When the water restrictions were put in place, [the state] said water no more that 15 minutes at each station,” Mr. Roger said, referring to the irrigation heads at each public park.

That wasn’t enough time to cover even the grass, much less the trees, so the foliage suffered, he noted.

Now, it’s a slow climb to greener pastures. Not all parks are created equal, Mr. Roger notes—parks with newer irrigation systems such as College Park and Shelton Park, have irrigation systems that are using less water more efficiently. Older parks such as Blaisdell and Memorial Parks utilize older systems that allow some patches to get more water than others, Mr. Roger said.

But outdated irrigation problems could be fixed in the future through upcoming city capital improvement projects, Mr. Roger noted. Indeed, an update on the irrigation system for Claremont’s Pooch Park is scheduled for next year, according to the 2016-2018 budget.

The city is also taking soil samples along the Foothill Boulevard corridor in preparation for the first phase of the Foothill Boulevard Master Plan.

The samples will provide “necessary soil classification data,” according to a release from the city, which will add to the design plan for the upcoming improvement project.

The master plan is a multi-year plan designed to revamp and beautify Claremont’s stretch of Foothill Boulevard. Sampling began on July 18, and will take about a week to complete.

Mr. Roger also confirmed that the city is in the final stages of appointing a new arborist. The new hire will replace former arborist Jeremy Cawn, who left Claremont in April for a position with the city of Glendale.

“We’ve done interviews and we’ve selected an individual,” Mr. Roger said.

Pending a background check, the new arborist could be confirmed as early as the middle of August.

Once the arborist is brought on board, he or she will no doubt have their work cut out for them as the new arborist for the City of Trees.

The city—along with Sustainable Claremont, Claremont Heritage and the Boy Scouts of America—is also recruiting residents to educate the public on how to care for the trees. On Saturday, July 23 at 9 a.m. at the Claremont City Yard, volunteers will convene to deliver soaker hoses door-to-door to residents and to provide helpful hints on proper tree management.

—Matthew Bramlett


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