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Transforming Trees to Treasures in Laguna Niguel

8/31/13

PHOTO CREDIT – JEBB HARRIS, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

By LUKE RAMSETH / ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE IN THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Mark Ranauro planted five sequoia tree saplings in his narrow Laguna Niguel backyard in 1987. It was the year he moved into the house and the same year his son Kyle was born.
Decades later, they’ve grown from just above eye level to more than 50 feet tall, massive shade-providers that loom over his two-story suburban home just off Niguel Road. Ranauro’s backyard feels more Pacific Northwest than Orange County. One sequoia tops out at 65 feet, he said.

“They are like our kids,” Ranauro said of the trees. “It really hurt when we had to cut the first one down.”
When he called an arborist to have a second tree removed earlier this summer – a few dead branches threatened his neighbor’s property – he had a decision to make: He could have the arborist haul it away, or he could keep it. Build something with it.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is an amazing tree,’” Ranauro said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to make it into a piece of furniture?”’
He held onto the most valuable part – a 10-foot, 1,500-pound trunk section now cut up into a stack of 45 boards drying in his garage. He has plans to build a dining room table.
With his project, Ranauro joined a growing push to recycle downed urban trees in Orange County – diverting wood waste from the mulcher or landfill.
Several businesses and organizations including Anaheim-based West Coast Arborists, Woodhill Firewood in Irvine and the Orange County Woodworkers Association have latched onto the trend.
“I’d like to promote it,” Ranauro said. “There’s not as many as up in NorCal, but you’ve still got a lot of great trees down here.”

CHOPPING IT UP

Some of the prettiest wood found in Orange County comes from trees like American elm, magnolia, red gum eucalyptus and black walnut, said John Dominguez, who heads up a year-old partnership between Woodhill Firewood and West Coast Arborists.
Dominguez is happy to do smaller jobs, like cutting Ranauro’s sequoia trunk into boards, but the focus of his Irvine operation is decidedly large scale.
West Coast Arborists contracts with 250 cities, including several Orange County municipalities. Some 600 tons of wood waste is processed daily at Woodhill Firewood off Bake Parkway.
Some branches are mulched; some turned into firewood. There’s even a resident chainsaw artist, John Mahoney, who operates on one corner of the Woodhill lot.
But often the more desirable pieces – the thick tree trunks like Ranauro’s – are placed in a wood kiln for drying, and later built into items like picnic benches, Dominguez said. Sometimes they’re even sold back to cities where the trees originally came from.

NOTHING NEW

The idea to turn downed urban trees into lumber or artwork isn’t new.
“Woodworkers have always used scrap. They’ve always used what they can for free,” said James Santhon, president of the 230-member Orange County Woodworkers Association.
Dominguez said for a time the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection even had a program where it lent sawmills and wood kilns to anyone who wanted to try milling.
“They wanted municipalities and companies to draw up proposals to divert wood waste from landfills,” he said.
Only more recently, however, has the urban wood recycling program taken off. Woodhill Firewood’s kiln and woodshop are humming – Dominguez recently sold eight picnic tables to the city of Santa Monica, and several outdoor benches made of recycled wood are soon headed to Petaluma, in Northern California.

LONG PROCESS

Plenty of furniture makers and hobbyists call up Dominguez to have a log cut or buy wood for a project, and he hopes to make connections with more. But he warns the tree-to-table type projects aren’t for everyone.
“It’s not just cut down a tree, cut it up and make something,” he said.
Ranauro realized the challenges immediately: It cost $2,000 to have the sequoia carefully cut down, piece by piece, and another $150 for Dominguez to mill it.
Moving the trunk out of his backyard took an afternoon and a small army. They had to roll, pry and jack it up and around his deck, then his gate, and into the front where it could be loaded into a truck and shipped off to the sawmill.
Now, he’ll have to wait more than a year to start construction on the table while the boards dry out in his garage. The moisture content of a fresh log can be as much as 85 percent, Dominguez said, but for woodworking, it needs to be less than 10 percent.
Ranauro has little woodworking experience, outside of a high school woodshop class. But growing up in Lewiston, Maine, a paper mill town, he remembers watching his grandfather collect log remnants from the mill in his truck, and bring them home to his downstairs workshop.
“Everything in the house he made,” Ranauro said. “So I had a fascination with it, even though I never learned how to do it.”

THE HUNT

The lengthy process doesn’t scare off some of the avid craftsmen of the Orange County Woodworkers Association, said Larry Marley, the club’s public affairs director. The roar of a chainsaw is enough to get them excited. It’s a sound that club members have dubbed the “call of the wild.”
“They jump in their truck, and go see if they’re cutting down something good,” Marley said.
Other times, residents reach out to the club, Marley said, to see if members want the wood from a tree they’re taking down.
Club members sometimes haul it away for free, before making bowls, toys or furniture with it. Last week, Marley sent out an email informing members of some choice-looking logs sitting in front of a San Clemente house.
Orange County’s “huge variety of trees,” many of them imported from all over the country, make it a special place for woodworkers who are passionate about recycling urban wood, Marley said.
For Ranauro, there is plenty of time to research construction techniques and think about what to do with the numerous sequoia slabs piled in his garage. He left the bark on some edges, for the rustic-looking dining room table he plans to build. His son says he will weld together some metal legs for it.
His friends, co-workers and neighbors have offered ideas for other projects. Apparently there’s something romantic about the closed-loop recycling of a sequoia tree.
“The gal across the street says, ‘Hey, I’d love a cutting board,’” Ranauro said. “Everybody wants a piece of it.”
Contact the writer: 949-492-0401 or lramseth@ocregister.com

THE PROCESS

1. Select and cut

Utilizing recycled wood is increasingly popular, and craftsmen and hobbyists in the Orange County Woodworkers Association are always on the hunt for unique tree species.

2. Transport

Moving massive branches and logs to the sawmill is an arduous process. Renauro’s 10-foot 1,500 pound sequoia log required car jacks and lots of manpower to move.

3. Milling

Woodworkers can have their more pristine tree trunks and wood cut into planks at Woodhill Firewood in Irvine. The operation has a saw and wood kiln — even its own resident chainsaw artist, John Mahoney.

4. Drying

Unless you have a kiln to speed the process, drying out “green” wood can take anywhere from one to three years, depending on moisture content. If utilized too soon, the wood can warp and crack as it continues to dry.

5. Build it

Ranauro plans to build a dining room table, while some OCWA craftsmen often create smaller items like bowls and toys from recycled wood.

The Art of “Tree-Fiti”

By ANNA ILIFF / Originally posted in the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

At the intersection of power tools and passion, an Orange County man found his calling in the hum of a chainsaw.

Meet John Mahoney, who has worked a slew of odd jobs, from women’s shoe salesman to camp counselor before settling into the title of resident chainsaw artist at Woodhill Firewood in Irvine.

John Mahoney of Laguna Beach works on a sequoia tree statue made from Redwood logs he gets from Woodhill Firewood recycling center in Irvine. The wood is recycled logs collected by West Coast Arborists, who clear and trim city trees from three states. “It’s a Carisma Tree until December,” says the 25-year old chainsaw artist. “In December they become Christmas trees'” he adds. Photo – Ken Steinhardt.

Behind the 20-ft tall piles of wood stacked methodically throughout the 15-acre lumber yard located on Bake Parkway, Mahoney creates elaborate sculptures out of recycled wood wielding just a chainsaw, a blow torch and a couple of small power tools.

“I’m just a tree honky bucking trees in the urban forest and creating some tree-fiti,” said Mahoney, a 25-year-old Laguna Beach resident who goes by “Big John” or “Bunyan.” At 6-feet, 4-inches tall and 300 pounds, Mahoney may not be as large as legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan, but what he lacks in stature he makes up in charisma.

Mahoney is the youngest child of Patrick Mahoney, owner of West Coast Arborists, which trims and clears trees for cities in California, Arizona and Nevada. Woodhill is a unit of West Coast.

Although Mahoney says he grew up with an appreciation for trees and the outdoors, his stint as a wood carver didn’t begin until a customer stole a truck-full of lumber from Woodhill and offered his expertise as plea for forgiveness. The thief was a Tiki carver.

Three years later, Mahoney can be found transforming logs into larger-than-life sculptures and beautiful furniture.

“I’m not an insane artist,” said Mahoney. “It was all kind of random. I’ve always thought it was cool, but I had never seen a live chainsaw carver before I did it myself. I’m just a goofball with a chainsaw dancing away.”

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Before each carving, Mahoney draws a pattern with chalk directly onto the log which he edits and adjusts as he goes along. He then uses a chainsaw to create a rough shape of his project before switching to a small carving saw for precision and added detail. For finishing touches, he uses a right-angle grinder and stains each piece to perfection.

Each sculpture varies in the amount of time required to complete. Mahoney said it takes about 30 minutes to carve a small bear and about two days to make a 7-ft tall Tiki. His pieces range in price to $700.

Earlier this year, Mahoney was commissioned by Temple City to carve the city’s seal into a historic tree stump at Temple City Park.

“It’s beautiful,” said Cathy Burroughs, director of Parks and Recreation for Temple City. “We’ve had so many compliments on it. Just about every day you’ll see people standing in front of it taking pictures. It’s wonderful.”

His latest project includes creating wooden eight-panel hats using trompe l’oeil, an art technique that attempts to create an optical illusion to fool the viewer into believing it is the object itself.

“I like to make whimsical stuff,” said Mahoney. “I’m trying not to be a standard chainsaw carver. I want to do funky, freaky Tikis and big furniture pieces. I’m trying to hone my craft so I can be a great tree-fiti artist.”

Mahoney will hold his first art show in conjunction with Raw Artists at the Shark Club in Costa Mesa on August 18.

Contact the writer: ailiff@ocregister.com

 

If you go

When:6-10 p.m. August 18

Where:Shark Club, 841 Baker Street, Costa Mesa

Age restriction:21 and up

Cost:$15 pre-sale, $20 at the door

Information: www.rawartists.org/bunyan

Long Beach hopes mulch wall will make Hudson Park a healthier place

8/9/13

Today, trees removed by WCA, Inc. are being converted and recycled  into Topsoil, Mulch, Planter Mix and a new sound wall in the City of Long Beach along the 710 freeway. If you are interested in using our topsoil, mulch or planter mix at your home or business, we have a great selection available for pick up or delivery.  You can find our lab results by clicking here .

Read more in the article originally printed here in the LA Times –

By Tony Barboza

August 6, 2013, 6:41 p.m.

Long Beach has erected a new fortification in the battle against freeway noise and air pollution, and it’s decidedly low-tech.

It’s called “The Great Wall of Mulch.”

City officials gathered Tuesday to top off a 12-foot-high barrier of shredded tree clippings held together by two chain-link fences — a low-cost structure designed to dampen the sound and block the sight of diesel trucks from the heavily traveled Terminal Island Freeway.

“This is not just going to be good for sound pollution, it’s not just good for visual blight, but it’s the first sound wall that I know of that’s also going to improve air quality,” said City Councilman James Johnson as he hopped aboard a cherry picker with Mayor Bob Foster to dump a final, golden bucketful of mulch atop the 3-foot-thick wall.

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster pours mulch on top of a 12-foot-high barrier held together by chain-link fences, which will serve as a buffer to block noise and pollution from trucks on the Terminal Island Freeway. (Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times / August 6, 2013)

While more traditional concrete sound walls shield many homes from the freeway, there was nothing but a chain-link fence between the complex of sports fields at west Long Beach’s Hudson Park and the trucks that serve the nation’s largest port complex.

Johnson said the city came up with the idea of using mulch from its tree-trimming operations because it’s more visually pleasing, graffiti-proof and practically free.

The city plans to plant trees and shrubs along the wall to absorb some air pollutants, such as the fine particulates in diesel exhaust. Dirty air is a long-running health concern in the neighborhood west of the 710 Freeway, which suffers from some of the worst air quality in the nation because of its proximity to port operations and has higher rates of asthma and respiratory illness.

For now, city officials are testing the wall on a 600-foot stretch of the Terminal Island Freeway that fronts the popular park. The wall could be extended by thousands of feet to protect nearby schools and ball fields if it proves effective at blocking the sound, sight and pollution from thousands of diesel trucks that rumble by each day.

That would be welcome news to Rob Aho, a physical education teacher at Elizabeth Hudson K-8 School who takes his classes to exercise and play soccer at Hudson Park, just south of the school.

“You get the rubber smell if they slam on the brakes too much, you get the exhaust smell and you get the noise, which is insane,” he said. “My concern, of course, is the safety of my kids.”

The Port of Long Beach is funding the $150,000 demonstration project, mostly to pay for the green-colored chain-link fencing that holds in the mulch like a giant cage. The port also will conduct testing to gauge how well the wall blocks sound and how well the mulch holds up after it starts to settle and decompose.

The wall of mulch sits across the freeway from a 153-acre site slated for the construction of the Southern California International Gateway — a $500-million rail yard approved by the Los Angeles City Council in May. Long Beach city officials, environmentalists and community groups fiercely oppose the project on the grounds that it will send polluted air into low-income neighborhoods, schools and parks.

tony.barboza@latimes.com

 

Annual Santree Fest celebrates trees and community in Santee

04/29/13

Written by Stephen Prendergrast Originally posted here  in the Examiner.

Photo credit: SPrendergast

 

For the eleventh straight year Santee celebrated its status as a Tree City USA, a designation the city is rightly proud of, and for the eighth year the Santree Fest brought together members of the community to celebrate. Over the years Santree Fest and the earlier Santee Arbor Day Celebration have provided the opportunity for residents to plant hundreds of trees around the city. This year the festival took place at Town Center Community Park East as part of a much larger day of community celebration. Also taking place in the area were the YMCA Healthy Kids Day, the Santee Firefighters April Pools Day and National Dance Day.

 

“Santree Fest is the City of Santee’s annual celebration of Arbor Day, which we do in association with our National Arbor Day Tree City USA status,” explained Santee Recreation Services Manager Sue Richardson. “Part of the requirements to be a Tree City USA is to hold an Arbor Day celebration. What started about eight years ago as a tree planting along Magnolia with community groups has grown into a larger, almost all-day festival celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day together.”

View slideshow: Annual Santree Fest celebrates trees and community in Santee

Santee celebrated the annual Santree Fest in recognition of the city’s eleventh year being named a Tree City USA
Photo credit: SPrendergast

This year’s Santree Fest featured continuous entertainment, including Box Canyon Band with toe-tapping bluegrass music. Dancers from the Santee Recreation Program, Expressions Dance and Movement Center, Jean’s Dance Studio and Charlene’s Dance performed in celebration of National Dance Week. A children’s area included inflatables, a Frisbee golf course and other activities. In addition, vendors provided a wide array of foods, goods and services.

With a focus on the environment, the day included the planting of approximately 38 trees along with shrubs and other landscaping around Town Center Community Park East. The San Diego River Park Foundation led a cleanup walk along the nearby San Diego River as part of the I Love a Clean San Diego Creek to Bay Project, collecting trash from the east edge of the park all the way to Cuyamaca Street.

“This is the largest event we have had so far,” said Richardson. “Originally we went from site to site around the city finding locations such as parks and school that needed trees, so we have done them at Mast Park and Cajon Park School. We did one at Rio Seco School on the west side of the Town Center Park and last year we worked on the north side of the park from Cuyamaca along Riverwalk Drive. We are still growing Town Center Community Park, even though the construction was done two years ago. There are still areas that need shade, and as we’ve used the park we wanted to add more shade.”

One of the highlights was the planting of a special tree honoring the fallen members of one of the city’s adopted Marine units, the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines from Camp Pendleton. Santee has also adopted Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 462 from Miramar MCAS. The tree is located near the beginning of the recently completed Marine Memorial Trail that circles the park. Mayor Randy Voepel and representatives from both units were on hand for the dedication.

Photo credit: SPrendergast

 

“It has been absolutely fantastic,” said recently crowned Miss Santee 2013 Emily Zobel. “We were so honored to meet some of the military who came out to help plant some of our trees. We were told that one tree represents 29 fallen military, so it’s fantastic that we can have that in our city.”

Asked what she enjoyed most about the day, Miss Santee Teen 2013 Melissa Lawrence said, “I like how all the families come together and are friendly with one another. I like all the kiosks and stand they have – it gives you a feel for what is here in Santee.”

 

One of the more creative and interesting displays at Santree Fest was a collection of woodcarvings done by “Big John” Mahoney of West Coast Arborists. Mahoney is not your average woodcarver – instead of traditional tools he employs a gas-powered chain saw for his artwork. When not carving some of the large sections of trees that come in from the company’s work, Mahoney runs the firewood and furniture divisions at the company’s recycling center.

“A few years ago we caught a guy stealing firewood who was a tiki carver,” Big John explained when asked how he began his artistic career. “We called him out on it and he didn’t admit to it, but a week later he came in and said he couldn’t sleep at night and asked what he could to do make it right. I said, ‘Trade me a chain saw carving lesson and we’ll call it good.’ That was two and a half years ago and I’ve been doing it and having fun ever since.”

For Santree Fest Mahoney carved a tree with “Santree” at the base, but he has also created traditional tiki heads, fish and eagles. His current eagle, the third he has carved, is an amazing work that stands a good five feet tall from wingtip to wingtip.

As part of the entertainment, Expressions Dance and Movement Center, a local dance studio, partnered with the City of Santee and Santree Fest to help celebrate National Dance Week, which runs from April 26 through May 4. In honor of National Dance Day the studio participated in a nationwide dance flash mob performance, joined by local school children who had learned the dance during special assemblies. At the end of the performance the dancers “danced their shoes off” to support the non-profit Project Warm Feet.

The day also gave the City of Santee the opportunity to do a soft kick-off for the new Invest From the Ground Up program, which will be rolled out this next week at the Santee Lakes Green Day at the Lakes celebration on May 4. The new program will encourage Santee residents to plant trees in their easements to provide additional shade throughout the community.

Photo credit: SPrendergast

“We want to promote the value and awareness of trees in the community and to help promote Arbor Day,” Richardson said. “We put up tags that calculate the value of trees to the community. So tree awareness and Earth Day awareness are our main goals for the festival, but part of the Community Services Department’s mission is to bring people together in the community and this is one of our best events.”

With events such as Santree Fest, the annual Santee Celebrates the Fourth and the Summer Concert Series, bringing the community together is something the department does very well.

© 2012 Nokia© 2013 Microsoft Corporation
Location: Park Center Dr & Riverwalk Dr, Santee, CA 92071
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Council Approves Contract for Tree-trimming and Inventory of all City Trees

04/14/13

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 9:00 am

by Anna Mavromati  – Originally Posted here in The Beach Reporter

The city of Manhattan Beach will conduct an inventory of all trees on city property for the first time in more than a dozen years and will better keep up with trimming of large trees.

Last week, the Manhattan Beach City Council awarded a three-year contract for tree-trimming and inventory services to West Coast Arborists, Inc., an Anaheim-based organization. The estimated annual fee for the service is $130,000.

West Coast Arborists will inventory trees on city property and advise the city in terms of trimming larger trees and setting up policies for trees on public property. Public Works Director Jim Arndt pointed out that the city has a particular concern with trees over 30 feet tall that need trimming.

The city has not conducted a tree inventory in more than a dozen years.

“I think we all know large trees in large areas can cause concern if not kept up maintenance-wise,” Arndt said. “This is for trees the city is responsible for, trees in city parks, city medians and on city facilities.”

West Coast Arborists is offering Manhattan Beach a similar contract to their 2010 agreement with the city of Beverly Hills. The Manhattan Beach contract is being offered for 2010 prices as well. Arndt said that the company has a good reputation for professionalism and expertise.

“[West Coast Arborists] are premiere arborists, known for what they do,” he said. “Landscape firms trim trees but not like dedicated arborists. We’ve upped the ante on what kind of service we’ll be seeing in our trees.”

There was some discussion on whether or not the city should have conducted an open bid before choosing to “piggyback,” as council members phrased it, off of West Coast Arborist’s contract with Beverly Hills.

Arndt said he was confident that West Coast Arborists was the right choice for the city and that the cost of the firm’s services was based on consistent unit prices.

“If the question is, ‘Could we do it cheaper?’ I suppose,” Arndt said. “But can we do it with more expertise or better special abilities? No.”

Currently, the city’s under-30-foot trees are being trimmed by two different landscape contractors for an extra cost.

After West Coast Arborists conducts its inventory, in which the firm will log the diameter type, condition, trimming strategies and geo-codes of the city’s trees, they will make a recommendation to the city on how to handle the maintenance of the trees.

Currently, “parkway” trees, those city-owned trees that adjoin private property and are the responsibility of the adjoining property owner not the city, are not included in the contract and inventory. Council members directed staff to look into including those trees in the contract.

“I would like to see an inventory of (parkway) trees, especially if they’re overgrown, not being maintained,” said Councilmember Wayne Powell. “That is absolutely essential. This is long overdue. I’m glad we’re getting to where we should be.”

West Coast Arborists estimated it will take four to six weeks to complete the inventory. They will return to the council in July with the results.

“Trees are very important to our city,” Councilmember Tony D’Errico said. “This is aggressive, and it is a good thing in my mind. I feel comfortable that the vendor selected is the right vendor.”

OCC Students Create Architectural Garden Using Recycled City Trees Donated by WCA, Inc.

 

04/14/13

STUDENTS CREATE ARCHITECTURAL GARDEN FOR SOUTH COAST PLAZA SHOW

Originally posted in Coast to Coast

*** All wood for this project came from recycled city trees and was donated by WCA, Inc. Find more photos by clicking here. *** 

OCC FIrst Place South Coast Plaza

Students from Orange Coast College’s Horticulture Club and Architectural Technology teamed up to create a unique entry for South Coast Plaza’s 24th Annual Southern California Spring Garden Show, April 25-28.

Following the show theme of “Garden as Art,” the OCC exhibit focuses on environmental art. The garden’s architectural forms mimic lines found in nature like a nautilus’s shell or a fern’s unfurling fronds.

Under the direction of horticulture instructor Rick Harlow, the club built the entire project on campus and transported it to South Coast Plaza’s Crystal Court, where they spent three nights re-assembling the garden in time for today’s opening. Students also selected the plant palette and installed plants and other materials donated by several local businesses.

OCC Horiculture and Architecture Club

OCC’s ambitious garden project focuses on environmental art and features an extraordinary contribution from environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy. Working from the Goldsworthy designs, students from Professor Rose Anne King’s Design Build 2 class began creating models for the garden structures that would be included in the garden show design. The models were then presented to the Horticulture Club’s executive Garden Show team – Debbie Coultas, Lynn Neal and Lorry Ann Lup.

“The variety of well thought out concepts was amazing” said Lup. “And it was exciting to see them take the model that was picked and enthusiastically begin refining the design to fit the garden show’s requirements. The beautiful bench structures created by these students from the Architectural Technology Departments are an integral part of the Orange Coast submission.”

OCC

The Orange Coast College 2013 Spring Garden Design creates an environmental art experience for a visitor to the garden using flowing space, natural elements and sculptural structure, according to Harlow. The garden offers more than passive viewing; it is experiential. A journey through the garden follows the natural curves of the benches as if flowing along a peaceful brook. The ribs of the structure envelope the visitor, like the petals of a closing flower. The design challenge was to create a private oasis, inviting the viewer to focus on the journey, not the destination.

Drawing on nearby natural resources, the bench structures are created with artistic enthusiasm from locally sourced, recycled city trees. The wood is planed, leaving intact the naturally beautiful bark. The structures are crafted without nails using only dowels and glue. The contrast between the planed and rough surfaces of the wood emphasize the naturalistic foundation of the soaring architectural forms. The structures stand on their own as works of art, and at the same time they are integral to the garden as a whole.

A conceptual tree balances the structures and waits for discovery at the end of the path. The concentric panels which form the tree allow for interior entry, to stand amongst the growth rings with a view upward, towards the cosmos. Plant materials hug and surround the garden in metallic planters. The path has been formed to mimic both flowing water and blowing sand.

By featuring an environmental art experience at the spring garden show, OCC provides an inspirational example of using artistic elements of nature in contemporary garden designs.

Harlow encourages his students to participate in the garden show project because “it gives the students an opportunity to see a project through from conception to display.”

This is OCC’s fourth year of participation in the SoCal Garden show. Last year students collaborated with the Braille Institute Orange County to create a Sensory Garden for the Blind. The garden was a tremendous success at the show and earned OCC first place recognition.

The garden continues to be alive and useful. After the completion of the show, the garden was then moved and reassembled at the Blind Children’s Learning Center in Santa Ana. The garden structure is the centerpiece of a sensory garden on campus and allows the children to experience year round the joy of nature and interaction with the outdoors. OCC students at Orange Coast College got an unexpected amount of positive feedback from both the blind community and the general public, an unforeseen and satisfying reward, Harlow said.

Creating this year’s submission has again been a rewarding experience for Orange Coast students. “It’s something that’s exclusively owned by the students,” Harlow said. “They built something that is much more complex to design in order for it to be portable. It was really great work this year.”

“Our goal was to create a garden that can be experienced both as a place of quiet meditation and as a striking piece of design,” said Debbie Coultas, president of the Horticulture Club.

“It was a great experience because Architecture has great ideas and really thinks out of the box,” said Kari Kerr, another student. “It is wonderful to see the two disciplines of horticulture and architecture come together so seamlessly.” Added student Lauren Hicks, “It was a labor of love.”

Luis Pedraza, who worked on last year’s display, praised the collaboration between the Horticulture Club and the architecture program. “Our design process has enhanced because we had a model on the computer to help us visualize our concept,” he explained.

This is OCC’s fourth year of participation in the SoCal Garden Show, which features more than 80 specialty garden vendors who offer exotic plants, creative ideas and unique garden accessories for sale. Horticulture experts will present free seminars over the four-day event. Children are invited to participate in garden projects, crafts and other interactive on Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28.

“OCC’s Ornamental Horticulture Department prides itself on having a very fine program for students planning on entering the field of horticulture and for people already working in the industry who wish to expand and update their horticultural knowledge,” Harlow said. Students may take one or more courses from the program to gain personal enrichment about horticulture, or they may take the courses required for a Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Science degree. Visit the department’s website at www.tinyurl.com/occhort.

For more information about the garden show, visit www.springgardenshow.com.

A Journey Through the City’s Treasured Trees

04/29/13

Originally posted here in the OC Register By DOLORES R. TAFOYA / GUEST COLUMNIST

Spring arrives and I can clearly see “the forest for the streets.” Not far from where I live, Eisenhower Park’s palms, ficus and pepper trees wave to drivers on Lincoln Avenue. And as I leave my neighborhood and head south toward the city plaza, I pass towering pines on the street’s south side and turn left toward town on Glassell Street.

The business complexes on both sides of Glassell harbor some budding trees as well as ficus and pines at this point. After crossing the intersection at Taft Street, I continue on Glassell and come across the evergreens. It is not the only street adorned by the domed-top, clean-looking trees in the city; Katella Avenue, west of Tustin Street, has them along both sides, as well as Chapman Avenue. I have often admired them when heading toward the center of town from Tustin Street, where they flank the street.

And it is on this journey from North Glassell that I finally recall where I have seen this familiar canvas. I have heard people call them “lollipops.” Their rounded tops, however, remind me of Georges-Pierre Seurat’s pointillism masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” I can almost see the umbrella tops, men’s caps and even the bustle on the women’s dresses. What an adventure this ride is becoming!

I cross Katella Avenue and as I continue on, I see a line of dark, smokestack-looking palms reach out to the sky and burst with feathering palm leaves at the top. The palms are so tall, it’s easier to appreciate them from a distance. A variety of sycamores, liquid ambers, palms and pines follow, infusing the scenery with the homey, welcoming, picturesque quality of this city.

Closer to the end of my drive are the majestic heights of the “queen palms” in front of the law building at the Chapman academia. So prestigious looking are they. They appear to represent the attainable knowledge and pride offered in their environment.

After passing the university, I see the green island – Plaza Park. As I encircle it, heading east on Chapman toward the library, my destination, I take in the collection of trees therein. There stands a magnolia, Italian cypress, ficus, pine and other trees. Among them also is the once-ubiquitous orange tree, our city namesake.

My family has lived in two neighborhoods in Orange, one by a large orchard, which is now a recreational park, and the other with the adorning jacarandas on our street’s green belts. After more than 40 years, it is with pride and admiration that I take in the city’s lovely trees amid brick and stucco structures, black asphalt and concrete pavements. Trees are to be treasured, indeed.

– Dolores R. Tafoya has lived in Orange for 44 years; she and her husband have three children and four grandchildren. Tafoya worked for the school district for 22 years and retired as library media technician in 2006. She now volunteers at the Orange Public Library.

Arborists to Provide Free Tree Care at Rustic Canyon Camp

03/15/13

Arborists to Provide Free Tree Care at Rustic Canyon Camp

Originally Posted here in the Pacific Palisades Patch

Camp Josepho to receive tree care from arborists in exchange for $15,000 donation from West L.A. Boy Scouts toward arboriculture research nonprofit.

     

Fifty volunteer certified arborists and their families will volunteer their tree expertise this weekend at Camp Josepho, a Boy Scout camp in the hills of Santa Monica. In exchange for their donated tree care, the West L.A. Boy Scouts will donate $15,000 to The Britton Fund, a tree research and education charitable nonprofit.

This marks the eighth annual volunteer work weekend, rotating between different campsites around California.

“This is an event certified arborists bring their families back to year after year,” said event organizer Mary Pendleton. “They get to show their children what it is they do all week and enjoy the free time on Sunday utilizing the camp’s activities. I love seeing middle aged guys showing their daughters how to climb trees like the professionals do, or explaining why a certain tree needs to be pruned a specific way.”

In addition to the tree work being done, scout leaders also hold a forestry merit badge program during the weekend. Lead by retired city arborist from the city of Orange, Al Remyn, this program utilizes the hands‐on nature of the weekend as a learning tool.

“This weekend represents two of my greatest passions, trees and scouting!” he said with his signature chuckle.

Over the past 10 years, the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture has organized annual volunteer work days to improve the treescape at a park or campsite, annually valued at $100,000.

Each year seems to bring something new to the table – the 2009 Volunteer Work Day brought the dawn of Arbor Camp lead by Climbing Champion Chad Brey, where arborists can hone their climbing skills and share energy saving techniques. In 2010 in Oakland, several public education aspects were set up – a woodworking demonstration, a bluebird house building station (using lumber from the day’s tree removal naturally), a kid’s recreational tree climbing area, and more. This year’s event will be used as an educational venue for new tree workers wanting to earn their certification.

Though they have held their volunteer day at other venues, such as Fairyland in Oakland, the WCISA’s volunteer arborists have a special place in their hearts for the Boy Scouts of America, according to Pendleton.

Throughout the weekend scouts learn about the benefits of trees, how to plant them, and what being an arborist means. The partnership between WCISA and the Boy Scouts of America is an ideal example of nonprofits working together for a common cause. Each group brings its strengths to the table and the bounty is enjoyed by all.

For more information, contact Pendleton, WCISA at mary@wcisa.net or 415‐571‐8616. Also visit The Britton Fund’s website.

Eye on Environment: Recycling trees and preventing waste helps environment

2/03/13

 
by David Goldstein. Originally posted here at www.vcstar.com

At the entrance to the Moorpark City Hall Council Chambers is a beautiful, large, rustic wooden chair, with a sign indicating it was made from city trees.

West Coast Arborists, which has contracts with seven of the 11 Ventura County jurisdictions for street tree maintenance and removal, culls select pieces of street trees and sends them to its wood shop in Anaheim, where the company makes a variety of furniture.

Most trees removed by the company, and most wood waste throughout the county, is turned into mulch, either by mobile chippers operated by tree service companies or at facilities such as at Ojai Valley Organics in Meiners Oaks, Santa Clara Organics near Fillmore, Peach Hill Soils in Somis or Agromin in Ormond Beach, Simi Valley, and Santa Paula. These companies sell the mulch to farmers, gardeners, landscapers and city grounds maintenance crews, who use it to suppress weeds, retain soil moisture, prevent erosion, and moderate soil temperature.

However, making discarded trees into furniture is not just a novelty, it communicates an environmental message. One local artist, Akym Rinkovsky, even makes furniture and decorative items from discarded palms, which cannot be turned into mulch because their fibers wrap around shredding equipment.

Environmentally, there is a solution even better than making furniture or mulch out of discarded trees. As with most matters of waste management, the best solution is to prevent material from becoming waste in the first place.

The best way to do that, according to Henry Brouwer, the General Services Agency grounds supervisor for the county of Ventura, is to plant the right tree, the right way, in the right location and keep it healthy.

Selecting the right tree includes consideration of which ones are optimal for the amount of sunlight in the space to be planted and ensuring the selected tree variety has enough space to grow to its projected size. Planting it in the right way involves digging a hole about twice the required size and amending the surrounding soil before refilling the hole, loosening the root ball, and placing it at or slightly above the grade so it settles into place. Properly maintaining the tree includes correct watering, pruning, and, in some cases, fertilization.

The GSA manages thousands of trees at county facilities. There are over 1,100 trees at the Ventura County Government Center alone. Each of them is numbered, tagged and tracked in a database with a profile on each tree’s health and condition, according to Sean Payne, GSA manager of housekeeping and grounds. The inventory system facilitates scheduled watering, pruning, pest control, and fertilization. Keeping trees healthy reduces the risk of damage by insects, which are usually fought off by the protective mechanisms, like bark and sap, of healthy trees.

Facilities such as the Ventura County Government Center face a special challenge with trees planted in small tree wells surrounded by parking spaces. On sunny days, many people want to park in the shade, but no one wants to be under a tree that drops debris or leaks sap. Many types of trees develop root systems capable of breaking the surrounding asphalt. Brouwer recommends Brisbane Box trees, Carrotwood, and other varieties compatible with parking lots.

Sometimes mature trees do need to be removed. For example, the Ventura County Government Center had 28 beautiful, tall Japanese privets in its parking lot. Even with root barriers, they caused problems for the surrounding asphalt. Worse, they dropped little black berries on cars. Fortunately, county staff came across a rare opportunity for whole tree reuse. The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas wanted the trees and paid all the costs of removal, relocation and replacement with more suitable alternatives.

If you need trees removed, you may not be so lucky to find someone willing to relocate them, and you probably will not be able to make furniture or even mulch by yourself. However, you can prevent tree waste in the first place.

David Goldstein is an environmental resource analyst for the county of Ventura. Representatives of government or nonprofit agencies who want to submit articles on environmental topics for this column should contact Goldstein at 658-4312 or david. goldstein @ventura.org.

Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/feb/03/recycling-trees-and-preventing-waste-helps/#ixzz2K3Taig1m
– vcstar.com

City of Torrance Removes Decayed Eucalyptus Trees

1/23/13

Originally posted here by www.thedailybreeze.com

The City of Torrance has completed the removal of eight large eucalyptus trees – some so massive workers used a crane to cut off some big branches – on El Prado Avenue. The trees, at least 60 years old, were so decayed in some cases that when a limb hit the ground “it was just like sawdust,” said Streetscape Manager Judy Emerson. New lemon-scented gum eucalyptus will replace the removed trees.

 

Work crew from West Coast Arborists cut down giant eucalyptus trees in Old Torrance along El Prado. Eight trees in all were removed. Photo by Brad Graverson 1-21-13

 

Benito Canales from West Coast Arborists cuts down giant eucalyptus trees in Old Torrance along El Prado. Eight trees in all were removed. Photo by Brad Graverson 1-21-13