Pint-sized forest takes root in Elysian Park

Newly planted pine tree

Newly planted pine tree

ECHO PARK — Volunteers and city officials gathered in Elysian Park on Saturday morning to plant about 100 trees. It’s part of an effort to reforest the park, where hundreds of trees are dead and dying from drought and disease. However, it will be quite a while before the tiny trees – some only inches tall – will be big enough to cast some meaningful shade or even look like trees. But even big trees start out small.

Saturday’s planting near Scott Avenue and Elysian Park Road is the first of three that will take place across the park.  The saplings were planted in what are called Land Life Cocoons, which help support the tree and force the roots deeper into the ground to tap into ground water. The cocoon also includes a circular basin, covered by mulch, that stores and  supplies water to the young trees.  According to the manufacturer, the saplings won’t have to be irrigated during the first year after they have been planted.

“This major reforest project is a significant step toward strengthening the park’s biodiversity with the latest drought-resilient technology,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell in a statement.

The plantings, which are funded with grants from the National Arbor Foundation and Boise Paper, also involve several city agencies, including the Recreation and Parks Department and the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

In addition to the new trees, the city is installing new pipes in preparation to irrigate Elysian Park with reclaimed water. About $12.5 million has also been allocated for additional park improvements.

Related Link:

  • How L.A. is replenishing Elysian Park’s tree canopy. KPCC
Courtesy Council District 13

Courtesy Council District 13

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. I hope this time the park is replanted with California native plants.

    We have eradicated so many native plants , and the native wildlife is dependent on the plants for food and habitat

    This is a tremendous opportunity for us to make Elysian park a shining example for California natives as it all needs to be replanted

    No more non native plants in Elysian Park. Let’s go forward and make the right decision.

    • Only replanting Elysian Park with native trees is a terrible idea. There are only like 7 species of tree native to the area. If you were to plant that area with just 7 species you would be asking for a disease epidemic to wipe out large swathes of the park. While they should plant native trees, appropriate exotics should also be planted to increase biodiversity. Biodiversity is important to both the urban forest and wildlife alike.

      • Why would a disease epidemic occur if you just planted native trees ?

        Native Oaks , Sycamores , Black Walnuts, Toyons, Laurel Sumac, Sugarbush, Saltbrush, Bladderpod, White, Black and Purple Sage look to be the only plants left standing in Elysian park They probably were not even planted by Rec and parks

        You can see now how the exotic species Rec and parks planted in Elysian park ended up

        I think consulting with Theodore Payne or Nick at Hahamonga (Arroyo Seco Foundation) would be a good idea.

        Let’s make Elysian Park a bright shining example of what a California Native garden looks like and replentish food source and habitat for local wildlife and habitat

        Please Consider

        Plant native.

        • It’s a disease threat because whenever you have a large planting that contains only a few species, if disease or a pest hits one species it spreads rapidly through the entire planting. If that species makes up 20% of the pla ting then you lose 20%. If you instead increase biodiversiry and that one species makes up 3% of the planting then you only lose 3%. There are only a few species of tree that are native to the area.

          Not all exotics are the same. The past plantings used tree species that required a moderate amount of water. There are plenty of exotics that could grow here even with drought. Using them would make the urban forest in Elysian Park more resilient.
          Now I’m not saying use only exotics. That would be ridiculous obviously natives have a place. But so do exotics. A strictly native position is foolishly dogmatic and not supported by the science that recognizes that biodiversity is king.

    • Becky with the good hair

      I live near the park and the majority of trees planted were non native. Forget about diseases, let’s see if they’re actually as drought resistant as they think.

      • I broke my ankle and can’t walk across the street to see but my 7 year old already asked me ” Why did they plant non native plants in the park”. He did say there were a few oaks though which is great.

        I read about those Land Life Cocoons that don’t need any water once planted with a 5 gallon basin you fill once. They are made in Germany for a climate that has summer rain. We have no summer rain here. Unless someone goes out and waters these plants once a week they will be dead by early summer.

        I know Garcetti (especially his wife) know a lot about California native plants. I am sure Ofarrell is keen to learn too as he is a bright guy as well

        We can do much better than this

        • They planted non-native trees along with native trees because biodiversity is more important than rigidly adhereing to the dogmatic position that only natives should be planted. By planting non-natives they made the urban forest more resilient.

  2. Thank you, Mitch O’Farrel and all the volunteers!!!!
    We. An always use more trees in this city.

  3. This is a promising effort but readers should be aware that Mitch O’Farrell’s office has been repeatedly asked by nearly fifty households on Park Drive to help restore the irrigation to the mature trees in Elysian park which run parallel to this street – water was cut off abruptly by the parks department last year at the height of the ongoing drought.

    Trees are valuable commodities whether they be seedlings or well established and on Park Drive there are numerous large, already existing mature trees that are dying. An independent, licensed arborist examined many of them stating that they were not diseased and that the only reason they were seriously stressed and dying is due to the withdrawal of water. As residents of Park Drive we understand that it is not feasible to provide irrigation to all the park’s water-starved trees. But it is feasible to take much needed action on behalf of trees that line the various residential streets that abut Elysian Park. These trees should be given priority, not given up on because new seedlings are being planted elsewhere.

    O’Farrell and those in his office have repeatedly dragged their feet – refusing to respond to numerous letters and requests from this large group of residents. If he is serious about helping restore the park then attention needs to also be paid to these older trees as well. Seedlings are not going to replace the existing large trees anytime soon. Park Drive residents continue to wait
    for a response from our councilman’s office and continue to hope that more trees don’t die while O’Farrell declines to give us notice of whether or not he will provide support.

    Meanwhile, the lawns and trees and shrubs in Grace Simon’s Lodge grounds continue to get massive infusions of water. Clearly if Parks and Rec and O’Farrell wanted to share the water, they could do it. We are baffled and disheartened that they seem so cavalier about these majestic older trees and instead focus their energy on projects like the planting of seedlings which for decades to come will have little ability to provide the many benefits of existing maturetrees such as helping to cool urban climates through shading and evapo-transpiration (the absorption and release of water), reduce evaporative emissions of VOC’s, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, storm water management, soil retention and ground water absorption. Large trees provide a wind break that reduces dust pollution.

    Trees and vegetation provide a variety of quality of life benefits ranging from being habitats for birds and other living things to reducing urban noise, enhancing psychological well-being and reducing stress. Instead of taking into consideration all that mature trees can provide to park goers, what do Parks and Rec and O’Farrell do? They let the trees die then come along and cut them down leaving large stumps that make our park look like a ravaged clear cut forest.

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