City plants oak at Lanterman House

During a Thursday morning ceremony that marked the La Cañada Flintridge’s observance of Arbor Day, local officials planted an oak tree at the Lanterman House to replace one that fell there during a heavy weekend storm last month

Though just over 10 feet tall, the new tree is of the same California live oak species as the 60-foot heritage oak that came crashing down onto the property’s parking lot on March 19. The fallen oak had predated the Lanterman House, built in 1915, by decades, said Executive Director Melissa Patton.

City Councilman Donald Voss, who led the ceremony, said it was important to maintain the type of oaks that are native to the property and the city as a whole.

“The Lanterman House is the very definition of historical preservation in La Cañada Flintridge. That implies tradition, and in this case it implies planting an oak tree,” he said.

The event also served a dual purpose of renewing for a 23rd year La Cañada’s recognition by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA.

Cities of that distinction must maintain detailed tree management and protection programs, said Los Angeles County Deputy Forester Tamara Hanna, who presented Voss with a new Tree City USA banner.

“It’s a great honor because not every city is recognized for this,” she said.

Though national Arbor Day takes place the last Friday in April, Mayor Dave Spence had declared local observance of the occasion this week to coincide with the Lanterman House tree planting.

La Cañada Valley Beautiful, which helps maintain some public landscapes and gives annual awards for the beautification of local homes, co-hosted the tree planting.

“We’re known for our lush landscapes and the beauty of our town, and trees are a big part of that,” said Susie Goddard, organizer with La Cañada Valley Beautiful.

Though it might take a century for the new oak — already five years old — to grow to the size of its historic predecessor, it would have been risky to try to plant a larger oak. Transplanting larger California native oak trees requires use of a crane and risks the root systems tangling and choking each other out, said Gonzalo Venegas, facilities and maintenance supervisor for the city.

“I’m extremely grateful to have another oak here. This area was an oak forest in many ways, and it’s good to maintain that,” said Patton. Still, she said, “it’s kind of sad thinking about the one that came down. Looking at this little guy gives you an idea of just how old the other one was.”

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