Eye on Environment: Recycling trees and preventing waste helps environment


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

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