As aging and drought-stricken trees continue to fall or be removed within the North Coast’s 3,200-acre Monterey pine forest, Cambria’s landmark, forested skyline continues to change.
But the recent removal for safety reasons of two unstable, diseased historic trees also has changed the look and feeling of the town’s East Village business district.
According to a plaque posted at the Bluebird Inn, at least one of the stately Monterey cypress trees was planted in 1905.
On the advice of a certified arborist in Morro Bay, Buddy Campo’s Big Trees began removing the two trees Dec. 7, a job estimated at press deadline to cost about $8,000.
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The removal is complicated by the proximity of various motel buildings, and by the somber emotions of the motel’s new owners, Kiran and Falguni “Fal” Patel.
The couple ordered an official tree-health investigation by Robert Schreiber after another massive cypress on the Bluebird’s property fell Nov. 2, crushing four vehicles owned or rented by the lodging’s guests.
The Patels had bought the motel Aug. 26 from longtime owners Ken and Gisela Cooper.
Schreiber’s Nov. 30 report indicated that the two side-by-side cypress trees immediately adjacent to the motel’s office were in poor health because of “substantial woodpecker infestation” and trunk or leader rot.
Manual sounding of the trunks indicated “hollow areas” and poor flaring of the trunks where the roots begin. Probing of the areas uncovered cavities and voids in those areas.
The arborist indicated that some of the trees’ unhealthiness could have been caused by one being located in a small, confined planter area adjacent to the parking lot/driveway, and the other “being encircled by concrete and being close to structures that restrict air flow and moisture evaporation for the root flair.”
The first tree also had a 15-degree lean toward a motel structure and parking spaces, Schreiber wrote.
Cal Fire inspector Jonathan Gee agreed on Dec. 7, authorizing the removal of the trees.
The Patels are mourning the loss of the landmark trees that have for decades been part of the motel’s setting.
“I’m not happy,” Fal Patel said. “But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. They’re definitely not healthy enough to be standing there … we have to consider public safety.”