Chip Bell changed himself to the tree to protest their cutting down by city. Photos by Patricia Schallert
On San Clemente St., there are beautiful Ficus Macrocarpa trees that line the street and provide nesting for great horned owls, hawks and various small birds. These trees are also known as Malayan Banyan and are at least 100 years old. They have been part of the community since it was developed in the 1920’s and 30’s. These beautiful trees provide a canopy of shade in the summer months when it’s hot and are a refuge for the wild birds as they migrate north or south. The residents of this community believe these trees are interconnected with a co-depending root system.
Chip Bell, a resident in the community, together with many of his neighbors, felt it was important to save the trees not only in his community but to develop awareness of how important trees are to the entire Ventura community. He chained himself to one of these trees that the city had slated to cut down. As the city was cutting down one tree at the end of the block due to some wind damage, they decided not to cut Chip’s beloved tree. It was saved for the time being.
Former City Council Member Christy Weir stated “Now would be a good time to revisit the city’s tree removal policy. Our residents value mature trees, and want to save as many as possible. Ventura’s Urban Forestry staff care about trees, and their expertise combined with our community’s passion for a healthy environment can help us to examine potential ways to retain our tree canopy.”
Barbara Brown said “The safety of our community in wind storms and rain events is critical, but if we cut down these heritage trees, we take away so much from the intrinsic beauty of these neighborhoods. We also lose important habitat for the native birds and insects. There has to be a way for these heritage trees to be saved.”
Editor’s note: We have tried to obtain a statement from the city but have not been able to. Sorry.