Patt Morrison for January 13, 2011

Can you hear the willows weeping? L.A. county clear-cuts a grove of trees in Arcadia

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Nick Ut/AP

Protesters, left to right, Jennifer MacDonald, Kim Kelley, Laurie Gould and David Czamanske demonstrate on Jan. 12, 2011 in Arcadia to save 11 acres of old oaks and sycamore trees that Los Angeles County officials say must be cleared away so that sediment dredged from behind a dam can be dumped there.

In the movie trilogy Lord of the Rings, the Ents (J.R.R. Tolkien's imagined tree-like creatures) rise up from their roots to take part in a great battle against evil, after many of their brethren are chopped down. Unfortunately for a grove of trees in Arcadia, none of them showed the ability to stand up and walk away, so more than 200 oak and sycamore trees were cut down yesterday amid protests and controversy. The grove was cleared by L.A. County Public Works as part of a flood control project—where the trees once stood will go 500,000 cubic yards of silt, rocks, and vegetation scooped out of the Santa Anita reservoir. The County Board of Supervisors stopped earlier plans to chop down the grove with hope for finding a solution that would spare the trees, but no compromise was reached, and the chainsaws fired up yesterday, while protesters did all they could to stop the chopping. When conservationism clashes with public planning, in this case maintenance of a vital reservoir, who should win?

Guests:

Shirley Jahad, KPCC reporter covering the story; currently touring the limited access site in Arcadia this afternoon and joins us from there

Camron Stone, resident of Arcadia who led the effort to preserve the trees

Mark Pestrella, Assistant Director of the L.A. County Department of Public Works


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