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Letters to the Editor: Cutting down Arboretum trees for a water project? That’s so L.A.

A person walks in the Australia section at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.
A person walks in the Australia section at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, where a proposed stormwater project would result in the removal of trees and shrubs.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: When I began my 30-year career as a public park employee, I naively believed that parks were forever-protected open spaces that would nurture and inspire future generations. (“Consortium wants to cut down L.A. County Arboretum trees to make room for storm water treatment,” Jan. 17)

I was soon disabused of that notion as I witnessed public and private entities pressuring to take over portions of parks for nonpark purposes: a new cross-mountain road, a fire station, a helipad, an electrical substation, power lines, a swimming pool, a house of worship, a nursery school and more.

For me, the most unfathomable term used in describing the desired park properties was “underutilized,” as though every acre of land must be encumbered by facilities or crowded with people in order to justify its existence.

Fortunately, none of these attempts was successful, but many would have succeeded if not for a passionate and engaged citizenry who had fought for these lands, valued these lands, and would not stand for their loss. Liberty is not the only thing that requires eternal vigilance, or as the late great Peter Douglas of the California Coastal Commission said regarding preservation of the coast: “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”

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Suzanne Goode, Calabasas

The writer is a retired senior environmental scientist for the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

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To the editor: I have an idea of how to save the 425 mature trees at the L.A. County Arboretum in Arcadia threatened by a county water project.

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There is a distressed 320-acre property across the street from the arboretum where more than 50 thoroughbred horses have been killed for sport over the last few years. Let’s get rid of this barbaric sport, and use Santa Anita Park for the water project and for badly needed parkland.

Everyone wins.

John Collinson, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I am 100% opposed to taking any acreage from the Arboretum for the spreading of stormwater. The Arboretum belongs to all the people of Los Angeles County, not just to the five foothill communities behind this project.

There are many other options available that include permeable surfaces in parking lots. There is a huge parking lot across the street at the Santa Anita Mall that could accommodate subterranean percolation basins without adversely impacting the limited open space and garden resources.

This is not a matter to be negotiated with the Arboretum — just take this project elsewhere and show the garden some deserved respect.

Kathleen Kunysz, Altadena

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To the editor: In her song “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell wrote, “They took all the trees put ‘em in a tree museum.”

Are we now really going to cut down trees in the Arboretum? There must be a better plan.

Katie Shiban, Pasadena


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