Burbank officials decide to save old trees

City officials have decided not to remove five mature trees on the west side of a new multi-million dollar rubberized track at John Burroughs High School that school district administrators warned could be several damaged by intruding underground roots.

The track is part of a $12-million joint-use project between the city and school district that also includes artificial turf and a new stadium.

The City Council’s decision comes after an arborist supported the recommendation from parks and recreation officials that the decades-old trees could co-exist with the new track with additional pruning and trimming.

Burbank Unified School District Supt. Stan Carrizosa had warned the City Council last month that roots from the trees on North Keystone Street could grow underneath the track and eventually lift and damage it. Another concern involved the berries that fall from Camphor trees because they would stain the track surface.

The school district was prepared to plant 50 new trees throughout the city in exchange for the removal of the Camphors, which officials say are at least 50 years old.

But city officials and the arborist said aggressive trimming will help minimize twigs and other debris from branches that stretch above the track.

Another recommendation involved cutting the tree roots periodically and installing a 24-foot deep root barrier to curtail horizontal growth.

“Because of the maturity of these trees, and because they already have a significant tap root system established, root trimming wouldn’t harm the tree,” said Chris Daste, the city’s parks and recreation director.

Tap roots travel directly down and run very deep, Daste said, to stabilize the trees which can grow to 48 feet.

And because the roots were pruned when the initial excavation began, Daste said it could be years before the roots would need to be pruned again.

Daste also said it’s not typical for Camphor tree roots to stretch underground and then up to the degree that they would reach the track.

“Can something be reasonably done to keep roots from going into the track and keep the tree healthy? The answer to that is a resounding ‘yes,’” Daste said. “[Arborists] and city staff are fairly confident the track can be installed and roots will not enter the track.”

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