Update: a suspect has been arrested. – Ed.
Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – In March, Arcata got 115 trees greener with the appearance of new western red cedar, vine, Bowhall and big leaf maple and red flowering currant trees on Arcata’s streets. This thanks to a PG&E grant, the basic idea being to sequester carbon and further beautify the town.
By May though, Arcata was 16 trees poorer thanks to an unknown vandal who has made a mission out of tearing apart the baby trees. On April 24, three cherry trees on the Plaza were stripped of branches. More trees on H Street and at the Intermodal transit Facility have also fallen. One tree was uprooted entirely, and replanted by city staff.
“It’s pretty demoralizing for us,” said Arcata Environmental Services Deputy Director Julie Neander. “We’ve done so much to beautify the Plaza and the planters.”
For now, the denuded cherry trees remain on the Plaza as pathetic, branchless spires. Some may recover, but others will have to be removed and replaced once the city catches up on its lawn mowing, which incessant rains had delayed.
According to figures compiled by the city, five trees will be completely replaced at a cost of $1,375. Ten trees had limbs damaged, with city staff pruning them in hopes of recovery. Staff time for the tree work will come to about $525; additional costs for fuel and equipment amount to $400 with an economic impact for the vandalism at over $2,300.
The transit center tree kill was caught on camera, and while the video is somewhat indistinct, an APD officer familiar with downtown denizens said a person of interest has been identified in connection with the vandalism.
It's not the first time Arcata trees have come under systematic attack. In the early 2000s, trees installed along Samoa Boulevard as part of that street's redesign had branches repeatedly broken.
For more information, contact the Arcata Environmental Services Department at (707) 822-8184.