WOODLAND, Calif. (CN) – Crews in West Sacramento chopped down an 125-year-old butternut tree to make room for a “high-density” business, shopping and residential development, despite a resident’s bid to save the tree in Yolo County Superior Court.
In her July petition seeking to block the tree’s removal, Lana Paulhamus said the city “is responsible for assuring that our natural resources are not destroyed willy-nilly.”
Arborists told the Sacramento Bee that the tree, with its 22-foot trunk, was “one of the largest in the region and perhaps the biggest butternut tree in the United States.” They reportedly said the tree was “in fair to good condition and would live 20 to 40 years more with moderate care.”
Palhamus, a member of the West Sacramento Conservancy, sued the city and developer Fulcrum Property Corp. for breach of public trust. She asked for a temporary restraining order to save the tree, but ultimately lost the battle when the tree was axed on July 22.
Palhamus said the city never considered proposals to install the pump 50 feet from the tree, or to use a nearby pump operating at low capacity.
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon allegedly admitted at a city council meeting that “other alternatives were not studied,” but that “it was too late to study them now.”
The tree was felled after the city agreed to plant 45 large trees in a heritage grove, create a plaque in the tree’s honor and use its wood for furniture and artwork in public buildings, according to the Sacramento Bee.
City officials said nuts had been collected from the huge tree to develop saplings, the Bee reported.
The city feared it was in danger of losing up to $23 million in grant money if it didn’t meet its deadline to finish developing the Bridge District along the Sacramento River in a year, according to the newspaper.
West Sacramento has been working on the development since 1993.