Status of Coast Live Oak

You might have noticed that the Coast Live Oak tree on the west side of the CBWCD campus has died. This page provides detailed information regarding the history of the oak tree and CBWCD's efforts to save this treasured community heirloom.

The District is currently working on an RFP to remove the tree and preserve the wood. If you would like more information on this RFP, please contact Dave Schroeder at dschroeder@cbwcd.org.

Basic Information

  • Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  • Estimated age of 200-300 years
OAKWATERCOLOR

Timeline

A brief outline of the oak's history; read on for more detailed descriptions.

  • Before 1960s: The property where CBWCD currently stands was owned and operated by Hanawalt Company, which mined for rock, gravel and sand.
  • 1956-1960: San Antonio Creek, previously a free-flowing creek, was channelized with concrete. Before the concrete, the creek likely provided water for the oak tree.
  • Mid 1960s: CBWCD purchased the property and leased a portion of the property back to Hanawalt.
  • Early 1970s: Hanawalt ceased to lease a portion of CBWCD property.
  • Early or mid 1970s: It is estimated that the property was filled with 3-4 ft of crushed rock and gravel.
  • Ensuing years: The wildnerness park was created and planted with turf. The tree had a mulch area surrounding it with picnic tables.
  • Fall of 2002: CBWCD and Monte Vista Water District (MVWD) partnered to come up with a project to help conserve water: develop a Native Oak Grove centered around the magnificent Coast Live Oak. The goals of this project were to beautify the park, demonstrate California native flora, and save water by removing thirsty turf grass.
  • 2003-2005: The Native Oak Grove was conceived, planned and constructed with MVWD, City of Montclair and the CBWCD all providing time, staff and equipment to bring this vision to reality. Metropolitan Water District and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency provided grants to help complete this project. Additional contributions of volunteer help, consultation, equipment and materials came from Montclair High School, West Coast Arborists, Cal Poly Pomona, the Gabrielino/Tongva Tribe, Garrison Nursery, Mockingbird Nursery, Rancho Santa Ana Botanical garden, Intravaia Rock and Sand, and Dispatch Trucking.
  • Storm Seasons 2005-2009: Four years of ‘below normal’ rainfall totals, with a combined precipitation deficit of approximately 21 inches ("normal" = 15 inches/year).
  • Storm Season 2011-12: Deficit of 6.29 inches of precipitation.
  • November 2012: CBWCD staff observes that the tree has yellowing foliage and brings in professionals from the UC Extension, Cal Poly Pomona, San Bernardino County Agriculture, UCR and a private arborist-pest control firm to examine the tree. It was determined that the tree was under attack by opportunistic round headed boring beetles. These beetles are attracted to trees under stress-related conditions but are not the direct cause of leaf yellowing and branch die-back.
  • December 2012-January 2013: Experts suggest that the tree does not have a 'root flare' or taper near the bottom of the trunk and at the soil line, suggesting that the grade might have been changed at some point. There are no records that CBWCD changed the grade, thus the district speculates that this occurred with closing of the gravel and rock mining operation. The trunk is excavated around the circumference, and CBWCD staff discovers the original soil grade and the trunk root flare at about 3-4 ft down.
  • Storm Season 2012-13: Deficit of 13.06 inches of precipitation.
  • Spring and Summer of 2013: Oak tree is sprayed to protect against the beetles and the soil excavation around the trunk is expanded to approximately 9 ft in diameter. Supplemental irrigation is also given in the spring.
  • Storm Season 2013-14: Deficit of approximately 9 inches of precipitation.
  • April 2014: The perimeter of the oak tree is fenced off to protect public safety and to avoid compacting of the soil around any surface roots. The tree was reevaluated by professionals. Supplemental irrigation is being provided to keep the feeder roots viable. CBWCD is also harvested and potted seedlings that were growing under the canopy of the tree in order to preserve its genetic material.
  • October 2014: Large dead limbs on south and west side of tree are trimmed due to safety hazards.
  • November 2014: The flushes of growth that were evident during the summer are not thriving. The tree might not survive.
  • Spring 2015: The Board of Directors approves removal of the tree; staff gets to work on a proposal for removing and preserving the wood.
Actions Taken

  • The oak tree has been evaluated by numerous professionals to determine a healthy course of action.
  • The district excavated about 3-4 ft deep, 9 ft across of crushed rock and gravel around the tree so that the root flare is exposed and the tree is able to get more oxygen and nutrients.
  • The tree was treated for round headed boring beetles. These are not the type of beetles that carry the fatal fungal disease that has spread through the west.
  • The district pruned minor, smaller caliper limbs first, then removed major limbs that created a hazard for the public.
  • A fence was erected around the perimeter of the tree to (a) provide a more established barrier to protect the public, and (b) to protect the seedlings that have sprouted underneath the oak. The district will nurture these seedlings so that another tree can grow in the old one's place.
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Slideshow of Oak Grove's Evolution