First 'heritage tree' to stand tall in Benicia

March 13, 2011

By Tony Burchyns/Times-Herald

BENICIA -- Elected officials are set to name the city's first "heritage tree" -- a venerable coastal live oak with a leafy canopy stretching about 100 feet from end to end.

If approved, the tree would get a plaque and it would be protected from being chopped down without going through a public process.

The aged, wooded giant in the southwest section of downtown's City Park exhibits "elegant and flowing" branches and a mostly full canopy, says city arborist Theron S. Jones.

The only small open area is on the canopy's northwest side, Jones said, where the tree is competing for light and space with the adjacent Canary Island date palm.

"The age and location of this tree create historical significance," Jones reported. "The sheer size and graceful elegance make this a beautiful specimen tree and an ideal candidate for a Heritage Tree."

The nonprofit Benicia Tree Foundation submitted the nomination -- the city's first under its 2008 tree protection law -- in January.

The Benicia Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission backs the proposal. The City Council could approve it in a public hearing Tuesday.

"The oak must be one of the largest and oldest oak trees in Benicia," said applicant Wolfram Alderson, the foundation's executive director. "The tree has likely been a silent witness to much of Benicia's history."

Under the ordinance, removal or alteration of any heritage tree on any property is prohibited without prior city permission.

Read the entire article in the Times-Vallejo Herald by clicking here.