Tree maintenance work at Stow Grove Park is scheduled to begin next month.
The project will include removing a number of dead trees in the redwood grove, which will then be reused for park amenities such as picnic tables and benches.
“The Stow Grove Park redwoods are a unique and important part of Goleta’s urban forest and the upcoming maintenance work will ensure the grove will be enjoyed by future generations of park users,” said Mr. Thomson.
In an effort to improve public safety and allow for new trees to be planted, approximately 40 dead redwoods, one dead coral tree and numerous dead pittosporum trees will be removed. Additional maintenance in the redwood grove will include updating the irrigation system and spreading mulch to improve water availability for the hundreds of mature redwoods originally planted in the 1930s, officials said.
As part of the long-term maintenance plan for the grove, the city will also be planting approximately 75 young coastal redwoods and 25 incense cedars. In addition to the work planned for the redwood grove, approximately 40 trees along the eastern and southern perimeter of Stow Grove Park will be trimmed to remove dead branches and ivy. A consulting biologist will be performing wildlife surveys to ensure no impacts to wildlife occur during the work.
In late November, the city’s Public Tree Advisory Commission reviewed the proposed work.
According to the staff report, the Stow Grove redwoods were originally planted in the 1930s under the direction of Edgar Stow, heir to Rancho La Patera, state senator and a seminal figure in the agriculture development of the Goleta Valley.
Currently, there are 279 redwoods, in addition to younger trees that were installed more recently.
“The redwoods contribute to the charming character of Stow Grove, providing a shady destination and a beautiful backdrop for quiet walks, group picnics, and birdwatching for generations of Goletans,” the staff report reads. “Unfortunately, due to an historic drought from 2011-2019, individual redwood trees died, and the overall aesthetics of the redwood grove declined significantly during this time.”
In 2014, the city hired professional arborist Bill Spiewalk to inventory the trees, assess their health and provide management recommendations to improve long-term tree care at the park. The tree health assessment rated the trees based on the percentage of live, green foliage compared to brown, dead foliage.
The assessment determined 32 trees, roughly 11.5% of the total, were in poor condition and 10 were dead.
A more recent assessment conducted by Rincon Consultants in March 2019 found that 48 trees are in poor condition and 34 are dead. In addition, 44 dead trees have been removed since 2014.
“The further decline of the grove can be linked to the prolonged drought, water rationing, and a lack of focused tree care during the past several years,” the staff report reads. “The grove now requires significant maintenance to remove dead trees, plant new saplings, install irrigation system upgrades, and make other improvements to soil moisture and fertility.”
The staff report states that the city planted Incense cedars in the grove within the past six years to add diversity while still maintaining the aesthetics of a tall evergreen tree. The incense cedar is considered more tolerant of drier soil conditions and allows the grove to thrive as water becomes scarce.
“This is a long-term strategy to slowly diversify the grove while retaining the look and feel of the original redwood grove planted by Edgar Stow in the 1930s,” the staff report reads.
Last year, the defunct irrigation system in the Stow Grove redwoods was overhauled to improve both coverage and reliability.
“New irrigation controllers were also installed to allow maintenance staff to inspect, audit, and program the irrigation system using Bluetooth technology,” the staff report reads. “These recent improvements are anticipated to improve tree health and increase reliability of the system. With the new technology, the irrigation system can be easily checked from a smartphone and any issues quickly addressed. Additional improvements to the irrigation system, including the addition of drip irrigation for new saplings and misters for established trees, is planned after the majority of dead tree removals are complete.”
During the tree removal, particular care will be taken to ensure no nesting birds or other sensitive resources are impacted. A contract biologist will be onsite regularly during work to conduct tailgate training, observe the methods of work, and advise on any potential wildlife issues that may arise. New saplings and irrigation improvements will be installed during February and April.
Goleta’s Parks and Open Space Manager George Thomson has recorded a tour of the grove, which can be viewed at https://youtu.be/WW0eO5POzCM.
For more information or concerns, contact Mr. Thomson at 805-961-7578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.