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City to Take Down Massive, Dying Tree on North Hill Avenue

The removal process of the infested tree will lead to closures and redirected traffic all next week.

A massive tree at 781 N. Hill Ave. has been around for perhaps hundreds of years, even surviving last year's winter windstorm. But while harsh winds couldn't defeat it, an infestation of tree-preying beetles has proven to be the killing blow, leading to the city decision to take it down. The removal process starts on Monday and will last throughout next week. 

"I went outside (during the windstorm) to see how bad things were out there … that tree wasn't moving an inch," said Ed Carney, who lives at 781 N. Hill Ave. and gets to see the tree up close every day. "Everything else is going crazy, but that's tree's not moving. I told my wife, 'Don't worry, go back to sleep. We're safe.'"

The tree, which is one of the largest in the city, is dying and poses a public health and safety risk, according to information from the city. The process will shut down the southbound lane of North Hill Avenue between Orange Grove Boulevard and Mountain Street daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The city also notes that closures of the northbound lane of North Hill Avenue also will be necessary. During the closures, traffic will be diverted onto North Lake Avenue and North Allen Avenue. The city has posted notifications about the removal on the tree and around the area.

Carney said someone stopped by his house a couple of months ago and mentioned the tree's deteriorating condition. He had already notified an arborist, who came out to examine the tree several times and identified the beetle issue. A independent specialist then confirmed that "this tree's had it. It's dying," Carney said.

That was months ago, and large patches of dead, withering brown branches can be seen with just a glance. Small remnants of the tree litter Carney's driveway. He was told the city's take-down process will involve a crane, with cutting starting from the top.

Carney said he plans to film the tree being taken down, and it will be sad for many people who came around to check it out or talk to he and his family about it.

"I think that tree has more friends than we do," he said, chuckling. 

Sabrina Drill December 05, 2012 at 08:32 PM
If you'd like to learn more about tree pests and diseases, especially new threats like the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer which has been killing trees throughout the area, please join us January 12th at the Huntington. Pre-registration is required, You can register and find more information at http://ucanr.edu/sites/socaloakpests/ - Dr. Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension
navigio December 05, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I love this tree. I often choose to drive down hill (instead of down other streets) explicitly so I can pass this tree. The sheer size of the trunk is awe-inspiring. It will change that portion of the road for years to come. Sorry to hear it cannot be saved. One of its 'cousins' went down just around the corner on mountain during the windstorm.
Dan Abendschein December 05, 2012 at 11:06 PM
I drive by this tree all the time - for months I've been wondering when it would be taken down... it just got browner and browner and every time I drove by I would picture it toppling over onto a nearby house and wince. It is so huge and was really beautiful when it was still healthy. Dang those beetles!

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