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Parks, Rec and Cemetery Commission Says Tree Should Receive Special Status

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.