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Root cause of dead tree still unknown

A dead eucalyptus tree on the future site of the Pomona College Museum of Art was removed Wednesday morning.

A crew of 10 workers from West Coast Arborists started cutting down the city-owned tree at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The tree, which Claremont Heritage notes was planted in 1890, had declined in recent months as its once strong features turned brown and eventually became a hazard.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, Claremont Heritage noted that the tree was possibly part of a Heritage grove planted by Henry Palmer, then the president of the Board of Trustees of Pomona College, in the spring of 1890.

Claremont Heritage noted three arborists were tasked with determining the health of the tree, and further claimed the tree posed no danger to the community. They claimed the tree died due to “unknown causes.”

Claremont Community Services Director Roger Bradley said a combination of age, a recent heat wave and a lack of an irrigation system caused the tree’s demise.

Mr. Bradley noted the tree was originally dependent on the watering system from the white cottages on the corner of Bonita and College Avenues, and once those cottages were removed as part of the museum project, the tree was hand-watered.

It cost the city $1,500 to remove the tree, Mr. Bradley said.

“We noticed at the beginning of June that its health declined and we were working with Pomona College to make sure it was getting enough water,” Mr. Bradley said in a phone interview.

But a heat wave that swept through the city around that time caused the tree to decline even further, Mr. Bradley said.

MaryLou Ferry, Pomona College’s vice president of communications, said the tree was part of a hand-watering regimen, along with 13 other trees on the block, for half a day once a week in accordance with recommendations from the city arborist.

“The tree was old, it was stressed from the drought and its life cycle had come to an end,” she said.

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