The City of Chico Public Works directed an inmate crew to cut and remove a group of damaged Catalpa trees in Bidwell Park last week. Due to a “series of miscommunications” the crew cut down nearly 30 healthy oak trees in the park, sparking outrage in the community.
The operation near the Chico Creek Nature Center was flawed from the get-go. Not only were supervisors not present during the cut, the trees intended to be cut weren’t marked, instead marking the trees intending to be kept in the park. The miscommunication would have significant environmental impacts on the immediate area.
Robin McCollum, an arborist and retired county tree crew supervisor, indicated to North State Public Radio that the count of trees cut was more like 35, and that the botched job could take 50 years to heal. She also accused the crew of downing an owl’s nest during the operation and severely pruning elderberry trees, which is the home to endangered Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetles.
There are some positive takeaways from the incident, as Public Works are taking a new vigor to their rework their protocols and avoid another similar situation. They will also be conducting an aggressive replanting program as soon as possible.