Commentary: Cash needed for Felton Covered Bridge tree work
by Bill Burton
Oct 06, 2011 | 4308 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Barrie Coate, a horticulturalist hired by Santa Cruz County Parks 19 years ago, came back Aug. 19 to inspect and report on 15 trees critical to the safety of people in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

He has now completed and submitted his written 14-page report to me, including colored pictures of each tree he inspected and a rating of each tree’s health and what is needed to improve safety for people in the park. The report is very detailed and well done but too complex to report here. Copies can be made for anyone who will contact me.

The bottom line is that only three trees, which are not native and extremely invasive, are to be removed. Generally, all the rest of the trees need various types of pruning to reduce their top weights, to both improve their strength and health and reduce any danger to people in the park. None of the native trees need to be removed. This is good news!

Except, we still need to get the pruning done. And we will need to raise the money to do it.

Coate strongly points out, however, that we should not delay in reducing the top weights. If left on, some heavy branches are likely to break off at ay time. They are getting too heavy.

The federal grant money that was approved in August is only for rebuilding the corner of the Felton Historical Covered Bridge that was broken off by a tree falling on it about three years ago, plus the total replacement of the hand-split roofing shakes for the bridge. None of this money can be used for any tree work adjacent to the bridge. For the safety of the public, we do need to get this tree work done!

As you may know, the county of Santa Cruz Public Works Department is very short of money to get other very urgent work accomplished because of last winter’s flooding, landslides and road closures to many homes. The parks department is being merged into Public Works to save some money. So there aren’t any extra funds there for tree work.

With the help of the Felton business community, we have applied to the Boulder Creek Historical Society and have received permission to use their IRS 501(c)3 to receive federal tax-deductible donations for work done adjacent to the historical covered bridge. Great!

Now we will need to raise the money it will take to prune these trees. If done totally commercially, the costs might reach $24,000. There are other ways to get some or all the work done by using combinations of contractors, volunteers and public works crews, and other ideas acceptable to the county. But the fact is we need to raise some money. If you can help, please contact Judy Anderson of the Felton branch of Liberty Bank, 6230 Highway 9, Felton, CA 95018 or 335-1776.

Bill Burton is a retired civil engineer. He volunteered nearly three weeks of his time and services to research and help secure the above-mentioned grant. He continues to look for a way to trim the surrounding trees. He can be reached at 336-2733.

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