News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 02/08/2013
Subject :

Decaying Large Coast Live Oak in Rinconada Park Scheduled for Removal
Contact : Walter Passmore, Urban Forester, Public Works Department    650-496-5986
Palo Alto, CA – As a result of a large oak tree that uprooted in Rinconada Park and fell into Embarcadero Road and onto Walter Hays School grounds last month, the City conducted root inspections of similar oaks in the park and one Coast Live Oak needs to be removed. City crews are scheduled to remove this tree on, or after February 22, 2013, and replacement trees will be planted in March.

Over the last month, City crews have inspected trees in Rinconada park by excavating and temporarily removing soil at the root collar to allow an assessment of below-ground root conditions. The majority of the root systems of the large Coast Live Oaks are determined to be in fair to good condition. The Rinconada Oak, a designated heritage tree, has a healthy root system and is likely to live for many more years. Although the majority of the trees inspected remain viable, one oak is in poor condition, poses a safety hazard and must be removed. This tree has severe root decay that has rotted 40% of the exterior of the base of the trunk and compromised large anchor roots. Incidentally, this tree is the nearest neighbor to the tree that fell on January 4, 2013.

"Trees are living organisms with a finite life span and after careful consideration of the inspection results, we recommend that this tree be removed due to advanced decay in the root system," said the City's Urban Forester Walter Passmore. "This tree has a high risk of failure due its condition and no treatment is available that will allow new growth to outpace the decay."

City crews will remove this tree and recycle it. The wood will be used as mulch to sustain other trees. A planting plan has been developed to replace both the fallen tree and the tree proposed for removal. The goal is to plant more than ten large growing oak trees with compatible/companion shade-tolerant smaller trees in the next two months.New trees can be established this planting season prior to mid-March. Many of the established trees in the Park will receive maintenance pruning and/or mulching to improve their health and safety.

Tree decline is often caused by an accumulation of stressors. Old age reduces a tree's tolerance to changing conditions as well as reducing resilience to insects and disease. The root rot on this tree outpaced the tree's ability to grow new roots, which has reduced the ability of the roots to anchor the tree to the soil.