Saturday, October 5, 2019

Caltrans: Arborist to Check out Health of Eucalyptus on 101

Posted By on Sat, Oct 5, 2019 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge The eucalyptus stand on the Safety Corridor is get a check-up. - COURTESY OF THE CALTRANS
  • Courtesy of the Caltrans
  • The eucalyptus stand on the Safety Corridor is get a check-up.
If you notice some activity next week around the row of eucalyptus trees that has stood sentry along the banks of Humboldt Bay for nearly a century, that's because they're getting another “overall health and safety” assessment, according to Caltrans.

In a Facebook post, the agency says the southbound shoulder of U.S. Highway 101 by the stand will be closed beginning “as early” as Oct. 7 — 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. — to allow a third-party arborist to examine the trees.

“The most important aspect of this is safety. We understand the trees were planted in the 1920s,” the post states. “We just want to make sure they’re holding up and reduce the chances of falling limbs hurting someone or worse. We’re hopeful a scientific look at the situation will help us optimize safety.”

Caltrans states that the closure “closure isn’t expected to have a significant impact on cyclists, pedestrians or motorists.”

Concerns about the health of the stand were raised last year.

A professional arborist hired by the county of Humboldt in connection with the expansion of the Humboldt Bay Trail found that “the trees as a whole are in an advanced state of physiological decline.”

“In my opinion, there is no reasonable method for mitigating these risks through pruning, cabling and bracing or the moving of targets,” arborist Torrey Young wrote in a 17-page letter to the board of supervisors. “If allowed to remain, the risk of failures will increase over time. The health of these trees will continue to decline. … I recommend removing the entire stand to grade. The physiological and structural conditions that render these trees a risk will worsen over time and cannot be effectively mitigated except via removal.”

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted last November to look at moving forward with removing the northern portion of the stand.

Facebook post from Caltrans:


Soon we’ll be getting an in-depth look at the overall health and safety of the eucalyptus trees along the U.S. Highway 101 safety corridor between Eureka and Arcata. A contractor has been hired to oversee traffic control and bring in a third-party arborist to make the assessment.

The most important aspect of this is safety. We understand the trees were planted in the 1920s. We just want to make sure they’re holding up and reduce the chances of falling limbs hurting someone or worse. We’re hopeful a scientific look at the situation will help us optimize safety.

Beginning as early as Monday, October 7, a southbound shoulder closure will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The shoulder closure isn’t expected to have a significant impact on cyclists, pedestrians, or motorists.

Unrelated to this assessment, PG&E will soon be trimming limbs in the area for power line safety.

Stay tuned here for updates regarding the assessment and any determinations that are made.
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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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