By Clarisa Morales Roberts
Benicia is poised to have its first Heritage Tree if City Council
approves a Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission recommendation made
at their meeting, Wednesday night, February 9 at City Hall.
The Benicia Tree Foundation recommended that a Coastal Live Oak in
Jenson Park be designated as a Heritage Tree. A nominated tree must meet
one of seven criteria to be considered a heritage tree, including
historical significance and aesthetic value. In this case the city-owned
Tree, located near the intersection of W. 2nd and W. K Street, meets
all seven criteria.
The tree is estimated to be between 70 and
100 years old. “That’s our best estimate,” said Wolfram Alderson from
the Benicia Tree Foundation. “Unfortunately though, to really verify
that, we would have to cut the tree down and count the rings.” Oak
trees are known to live as long as 200 years.
“It’s an exemplary tree” Alderson said. “This tree has a lot of
positive characteristics in terms of maintenance and water use.” Part
of the motivation to give the Tree this designation is to promote a
tenet of the Master Tree Plan
Right Tree, Right Place. “It’s a great opportunity to educate the
public about not only the historical value but the fact that this is a
good tree choice (for this location).”
The recommendation to
grant heritage status to the big oak tree will go before the City
Council for a public hearing. Public Hearings for Heritage Trees are
necessary to give neighbors an opportunity to protest the prolonged life
of a tree that might impact their residence. In this case, since the
tree is on City property and not near the property line of any
residential homes, protests are not likely. If approved by City Council
the Coastal Live Oak will be Benicia’s first Heritage Tree and will
receive a designating plaque. Funds for the $250 plaque would come from
the Tree Fund.