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Oak may become Benicia’s first ‘Heritage Tree’

By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

The Benicia Herald

A decades-old coastal oak in City Park may become Benicia’s first “Heritage Tree,” Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission Chairman Nancy Cockerham said Thursday.

The Tree Committee, a commission subcommittee, will hear a report on the tree’s nomination Monday.

The city’s Tree Foundation nominated the tree for the honor, Cockerham said, and it met or exceeded seven guidelines for consideration, from its stately size to its esthetics.

“It’s an outstanding tree,” she said. “It really is a part of the downtown heritage.”

The tree’s age only can be estimated while it’s alive, she said. But its large canopy and 315-inch girth suggest it is well past 75 years.

“California oaks can live to be more than 100 years old,” Cockerham said.

Coastal California oaks also are drought-resistant, which makes this tree a reminder to residents to make sure they plant and landscape their yards in a water-conservative way, she said.

The commission will forward its recommendation to the City Council, and Cockerham said she hopes the item will come before that panel in March.

If the Council approves the selection, the tree will be identified by a plaque, similar to those identifying the city’s memorial trees, that will be installed near the base of the oak.

In other matters before the Tree Committee, staff members will give the committee a review of the Tree Program Valero Improvement Project-Good Neighbor Steering Committee Tree Fund.

Upon recommendation of the Tree Program Steering Group, the Tree Committee will oversee that fund, which is designated for developing the city’s tree program.

It also will give staff members comments and suggestions for 2011 tree program goals.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m. Monday in Conference Room 1 of City Hall, 250 East L St.