Monterey pine cleared in the canyon

By Murray Schneider

A portion of a Monterey Pine that toppled and fell onto Alms Road at the entrance to Glen Canyon on October 1, obstructing pedestrian traffic and disrupting electrical power to the Recreation Center, has been cleared and no longer poses a threat to canyon users.

PG&E worked to restore a downed electrical line and, as volunteers from Friends of Glen Canyon Park gathered for their scheduled work party on October 3, the only vestiges of the fallen tree, which had broken naturally with a thunderous clap that could be heard as far away as Sussex and Elk Streets, were Recreation and Parks chain-sawed logs and a matrix of pine needles lying benignly on the slope adjacent to the service road.

“No one saw segments of the tree fall,” said Elton Pon, Rec and Parks spokesperson. “It just sounded like two large ‘explosions’ according to a neighbor.” Pon went on to say the top of one Monterey Pine appeared to have broken off and hit another tree.

The blighted Monterey Pine, which had been posted for removal, had towered over Alms Road and along with an offending eucalyptus tree limb that had broken from its trunk on September 12 across from Glenridge nursery school serve notice that some trees that have graced Glen Canyon are not there for an eternity, but have life spans often of no more than 100 or 125 years.

Parents walk their children along Alms Road, dog owners trail behind their pets along the same service road, volunteers work above it pulling mustard and radish, and, until the tennis courts that lead to the children’s playground are pushed up the Elk Street hill, tennis players continue to volley on clay courts adjacent to the road.

So it was fortunate that the Monterey Pine shattered at a time when few if any people were about.

Two weeks before, on September 19, the unsettling moan of another tree, a weakened eucalyptus threatened to fall, prompting Friends of Glen Canyon volunteers to halt their activities only a football field length above Glenridge. The tree’s groan was a dead giveaway that something was amiss, and Recreation and Park Natural Area Program officials who are charged with safeguarding and maintaining canyon habitat took immediate notice.

Friends of Glen Canyon volunteers had stared at the anemic eucalyptus and had no doubt which was the correct course of action.

Collecting their tools, backpacks and their coats, they moved, their own safety trumping the work they performed pulling hillside Cape ivy tendrils.

In the parlance of naturalists and loggers, enfeebled trees, such as the top of the Monterey Pine that fell on October 1 and the branch of the eucalyptus that fell on September 12, are dubbed “widow makers.”

“Our urban forestry crew is constantly working to ensure our trees are safe and healthy,” said Elton Pon. “When a tree hazard is identified and deemed an emergency, our crew attends to the hazard immediately, regardless of the hour or time of day.”



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