And what about the trees that made way for Endeavour?

Endeavour is landing as I’m typing, but I should have been writing this earlier....way earlier.

Two weeks ago, The Times published an editorial about the 400-plus trees that are being cut down to make way for the space shuttle’s journey from LAX. The editorial backed the move, in part because the California Science Center where the Endeavour will have its new home has pledged to replant with many more trees, as well as provide an arborist to give them a good start for the first couple of years, in part because the museum’s officials said that only about 50 trees were any taller than 15 feet--which is a pretty small tree.

But after the editorial was written, after it was too late to change it, the museum emailed an “Updated Fact Sheet” that, among its bits of information, described the situation somewhat differently:


“The vast majority of trees being removed in Los Angeles are small trees less than 15 feet tall or have a trunk diameter at breast height (DBH) less than 12 inches. Fifty-four of the trees to be removed are large trees, five of which will be transplanted.”

FULL COVERAGE: Endeavour’s final journey to L.A.

In other words, trees were classified as small not only based on their height but on the diameter of their trunks. They could be taller than 15 feet and still not be classified as “large.” Though I don’t know about the trees involved in this removal, there are plenty of tall, substantial trees with slender trunks.

I asked museum officials for an explanation and for a real number of trees taller than 15 feet. I asked a few times. They kept promising information. Sorry to cast shadows--not leafy ones, I’m afraid--on the landing, but two weeks later, although the Endeavour has arrived, the real information about the trees hasn’t.

It’s unlikely that this would have changed the editorial in any way. In the long term, the cities of Inglewood and Los Angeles benefit by having many more trees, and all of them from species that shouldn’t be dangerously buckling sidewalks.

PHOTOS: Space shuttle Endeavour 1991-2012

But the public was entitled to accurate information. That will be something to keep in mind over the next two years, when the museum should be living up to its word about planting and maintaining the trees that neighborhoods lost. Meanwhile, when I get the right numbers, they will be published.


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