Milton Love, fish whisperer - Off-Ramp for Dec. 10, 2011

At the LA Arboretum, windstorm cleanup begins

KPCC

The recent Santa Ana winds felled 300 trees and damaged many more. KPCC got a tour of the devastation.

Last week's windstorm his the Los Angeles Country Arboretum harder than anyone expected. Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson went to the Arboretum and talked with staff.

Most people stayed bundled up inside last week to avoid the record-breaking Santa Ana winds. But the Arboretum's Jim Henrich went to work.

"It was actually kind of freaky being on the road," said Henrich, the Arboretum's living collections curator. "Just to see all of the eucalyptus doing this twisting and torquing and massive whipping around…[it] was a little unnerving."

The greenhouses and outdoor plants he rushed to check on were still intact, but that was before 80 mph gusts ravaged the park. The winds destroyed and estimated 10 percent of the trees in its collection. Brush and debris littered the place; over 300 trees were lost.

Arboretum CEO Richard Schulhof said staff are cleaning up and planning the process of planting a new generation of trees, but the arboretum will never be the same. The arboretum's value comes from being able to “see a great diversity of trees in their mature form,” he said.

"We lost a Eucalyptus Globulus, which in itself of course, is a very, very common species here in California, but it was a plant that dated back to the 1870s or perhaps older," Schulhof went on to say. "That kind of specimen is irreplaceable."

The L.A. County Arboretum has set up a tree fund to raise donations for the new trees that will be planted. The arboretum will be closed until further notice.


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