New life comes from old: What happened to this tree and what happens next

Joseph Barkoff

Winds gusting at 45 miles-per-hour toppled an approximately 250-year-old oak tree at the Santa Rosa campus Nov. 1.

Faith Gates, Staff Writer

The 250-year-old, 15 ton oak tree that stood behind the main “Santa Rosa Junior College” sign in the open field at the front of campus fell Nov. 21 during a severe windstorm that hit Santa Rosa and most of Sonoma County.

Winds up to 45 mph were enough to push the old oak tree over.

“It was a heartache to see the old tree fall down,” said SRJC head arborist Robert Carretero.

Now that the tree is gone it leaves the question of what happens next. The land was acquired in 1930 from local botanist Luther Burbank, who said the front lawn should be kept open for trees and gardens. That is the reason nothing has been built there today.

Another question is what will happen to the tree.

“I think it would be really cool if you use the wood to make a bench or sculpture of something,” said SRJC student Isabella Moreno.

SRJC student Sean Brown agreed, saying the wood should be made into something usable on campus.

When asked what the plans are for the space, Carretero said, “We’re going to plant another Valley Oak, maybe next spring when it’s good for growth.”

It shouldn’t take long before the Valley Oak will be up and growing. “Valley Oaks grow fast. The first 10 to 15 years they grow straight up, then they grow horizontally.” Carretero said, “A 3-year-old sapling grows to about 10 feet.”