CMC Trees to Find New Ground

By all accounts, it would have been simpler and cheaper to just chop down and cart away the 10 crape-myrtles standing in the way of CMC’s planned Kravis Center, which will serve as the new entrance to campus in 2010. Instead, the college opted to donate the colorful treesin this case the common Lagerstroemia Indica speciesto Senna Tree Company in La Crescenta, which specializes in the relocation, preservation, and sale of large specimen trees.

In two and a half weeks, Senna crew members dug gaping trenches around each of the mature crape-myrtles, crated their root systems, then hoisted each 12,000-pound tree box by crane above existing walls in the vacant Pitzer Hall courtyard before loading them onto flatbedsat a cost to Senna of $1,500 per tree.

CMC Director of Construction Frank Perri says rescuing as many of the displaced trees as possible in the construction zone was a priority. “It’s a shame to see such beautiful specimens wasted,” Perri said. “We are grateful to Senna for finding them a home.”

The alternative to harvesting the crape myrtles was cutting them down. Attempts to find hosts for several mature olives trees were made as well, although they, unfortunately, were not part of the rescue. Perri says extraction and transportation from campus made their relocation cost prohibitive.

The tree relocation came at a point in the construction process when they would have fallen victim to large earthwork equipment, such as front-end loaders and excavators used during demolition, grading, and mass excavation, Perri says.

Although none of the CMC trees have been repatriated thus far, Senna Tree Company President John Mote, a certified arborist, says rescued trees are a boon to landscape architects and contractors, especially with the growth in environmental and sustainable practices.

“Trees provide shadereducing energy consumption and the cost of cooling,” Mote says. “They produce oxygen. And preserving trees also reduces landfill import. It was well worth the initial cost to rescue the trees.”