How Do We Measure What We’ve Lost?

Some losses are painfully easy to measure – getting laid off from one’s job, the death of a loved one, or the decline of mental and physical capacities as we grow older.

But how do we measure the incremental, bit-by-bit loss of the natural world? By the number of glasses of polluted water no longer fit to drink? By the number of acres of open space and prime farmland paved over for residential development and shopping malls? By the number of animal and plant species that have disappeared from the face of the Earth forever? Or do we measure the number of corporations that lied to us when they promised not to harm the environment? Or by some city council members who voted to sell off their cities’ natural resources? Or by the carbon released back into the atmosphere when a 4ft diameter tree is cut down?

And how do we measure the loss of 240 trees lining the streets of Oroville? As for me, I measure such loss by the lengths to which a small band of people will go to save even a single tree, and by the tears cried by an older gentlemen back home, in the kitchen, telling his wife about the 4 trees lining the Oroville Cemetery that he saw PG&E cut down.

[Below is the story, in photos, of the Oroville trees and their human protectors.]

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Jan. 6,  I travel to Oroville to check out the trees.

 

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Jan 26

 

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Jan. 6,  I measure the 4 foot diameter tree cut down by PG&E before people can organize.

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Jan 6

 

King Industries' 300 year old Valley Oak - in the path of PG&E too.

Jan 6   King Industries’ 300 year old Valley Oak – down the road from the cemetery trees, in the path of PG&E too.

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Jan. 6    King Industries Valley Oak, private property

Jan. 12th, Save Our Trees goes to court with their attorney, Richard Harriman.PG&E wins Temporary Restraining Order against the people.

Jan. 12th  Save Our Trees (SOT) people go to court with their attorney, Richard Harriman.  PG&E wins Temporary Restraining Order against the people. SOT will eventually go to court 2 more times.

5:00AM,

Jan.26th, 5:00A.M.   I get a call from the people. PG&E arrive to cut the trees down.

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Jan 26th

PG&E puts up fence around the trees and the people guarding the trees.

Jan. 26   PG&E puts up fence around the trees and the people guarding the trees.

The people and the trees appeared to be imprisoned.

Jan. 26    The people and the trees appeared to be imprisoned.

A mournful sound.

Jan. 26   A mournful sound.

In the early morning darkness the people gathered for pep talks.

 Jan 26   In the early morning cold and darkness the people gathered to encourage each other.

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Jan 26

 

Some of the Save Oroville Trees people try and stay warm.

Jan. 26  Save Oroville Trees people try to stay warm.

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Jan. 26

 

Dave goes up into the tree.

Jan. 26  Dave goes up into the tree.

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Jan 26

 

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Jan. 26

 

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Jan 26

 

The people discuss risking arrest with the police.

Jan 26  The people discuss risking arrest with the police.

Stand-off between PG&E and the people.

Jan 26  Stand-off between PG&E and the people.

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Jan. 26, late afternoon, when only a few people are still at the site, PG&E cut down 4 of the trees.

 

Al Cartwright jumps the fence. PG&E calls the police and Al is handcuffed, cited and released.

Jan 26, late afternoon.  Al Cartwright jumps the fence to try and save the rest of the trees. PG&E calls the police and Al is handcuffed, cited and released. Nine trees remain.

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Jan 27.   After PG&E cuts down 4 of the 13 heritage trees the day before the people set up camp all night to protect the remaining 9 trees.

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Jan 27

Allen Young and Bill Bynum, part of the core members of SOT.

Allen Young and Bill Bynum, part of the core members of SOT.

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Jan. 27

Epilog:  As of 1/30/15, the last 9 trees are still standing and the people are still standing in front of them. However, I got word PG&E will return on Monday, Feb. 2, 6:00a.m. to cut them down. Please show up if you can to stand in solidarity with the trees and the people.

Chico and Paradise people beware!  PG&E has plans to cut down trees in your towns too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felize Navidad!

Chico Foothills, winter 2011

Chico Foothills, winter 2011

Happy Holidays to friends, family and the World.  Here are the words to John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s song “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” for you:

“So, this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Lets hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

War is over
If you want it
War is over
Now”

 

To: Chico School Board, Re: Pin Oaks and the Science Building

Dear School Board members,

I know the Pin Oak trees on the Chico Jr. High campus (see photo below).  I ride my bike past them just about everyday.  They’re part of our neighborhood.  I’ve seen kids sitting on the benches between the trees eating their lunch or just hanging out.  Maybe, if you grew up in Chico like a friend of mine told me, you remember sitting on that bench yourself as a young student.  But it isn’t just sentiment that argues for the preservation of these trees.  We live in a world threatened with the disastrous consequences of rising temperatures where every living, green-house gas sequestering tree counts.  I’m sure we, as a community, can come up with an alternative site for the science building instead of where these old schoolyard tree-friends now stand. Perhaps the trees could be incorporated into the site plan.  For example, the building could be constructed with a courtyard landscape that includes the trees. 

If you haven’t seen the trees up-close please check them out (see photo below).  Their size makes them “heritage trees.” My husband and I measured them.  The tree with the umbrella beside it is about 37 inches in diameter.  The tree with multiple trunks, is about 48 inches in diameter.  They’re really nice big examples of the Pin Oak variety. 

I think a new science building is a wonderful idea for the students at Chico Jr. High. And the natural history of the oaks could be one of their first science projects.  Please build the building and spare the trees.

Thank you for considering my comments.

Sincerely,

Karen Laslo

Pin Oaks at Chico Jr. High

Pin Oaks at Chico Jr. High

 

You Know These Trees

You know these trees. You’ve probably driven by them many times, seen kids sitting on the bench between them eating their lunch or just hanging out. Or if you grew up in Chico perhaps you remember sitting on that bench yourself. Well, these heritage trees are scheduled to be cut down to make way for a new science building – right there, where our old tree-friends now stand. And it isn’t just sentiment that argues for the preservation of these trees. We live in a world threatened with the disastrous consequences of rising temperatures where every living tree counts. But the removal of the schoolyard trees is not a done deal yet. There are other options for the building site. The science building is on this week’s agenda for the Chico Unified School District’s meeting. If you have fond memories of these trees, or if your kids like them, if you think trees are essential for our survival, or, if like me, you just don’t want to lose more of our heritage trees, then please do one of the following:

1.  Attend the CUSD meeting on Wed., 12/17, 6:00pm at the City Council chambers, 4th and Main in Chico and speak up for the trees. It’s item 12.2.1 on the agenda. http://www.chicousd.org/documents/Board%20of%20Education/Agendas/2014/141217%20Agenda.pdf

 2. Call the School Superintendent and say you don’t want to loose those trees: 891-3000

 3. Call or e-mail the Facilities manager, Maria Campos, 891-3209, mcampos@chicousd.org

 4. E-mail the School Board members:

 kkaiser@chicousd.org

egriffin@chicousd.org

lhovey@chicousd.org

erobinson@chicousd.org

athompson@chicousd.org

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