Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Trees and Spire --- Day 12/34

Walk:West Portal

Distance: 3.5 miles

Old Monterey Cypress Trees along a Presidio Path to Andy Goldworthy's Spire

So, with all the felled ones around the city from the unrelenting and torrential winds and rain a few weeks ago, Ciwt is thinking about trees.  Their long lives and what they endure during them.  

The ones above are in the San Francisco Presidio, now a National Park. They were once part of a stand of Monterey cypress planted near the San Francisco National Cemetery by the U.S. Army in the 1880's. When they went in the grounds of the Presidio were scrub and sand, there was no other trees in sight.  When planted, Ciwt is guessing the branches began about 8 feet off the ground, and the trees probably stood approximately 20 feet at most. Because they are a rare tree only found around Monterey at the time, they would have been brought up the coast by horse drawn wagon.  And they they would have been selected because they are resistant to wind and salt and can form natural barriers against strong sea winds. 

It's likely there would have been protesters to greet them at their arrival at the Army base because this was the beginning of Major William Jone's plan to create a forest within the Presidio, and, as with most changes there were many vocal detractors.  Luckily for the millions who have enjoyed the Presidio treees since then, the dissenters didn't prevail.

But, unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge about the root system of Monterey cypress, the trees were overplanted, have weakened and reached the end of their natural live spans.  In response the Presidio Trust has been raising young Monterey cypresses from seed and begun an ongoing thinning and replanting program to restore the forest. Since 2003 more than 40 acres have been restored and 5,000 young trees have been replanted, much to the pleasure it seems to many bird species, coyotes and other wildlife and vegetation.

Also several of the trees that have been thinned or fallen during powerful winter storms have actually found second lives as benches, fences and, most prominently, Andy Goldworthy's Spire, the first of the internationally acclaimed artist's four wood artworks in the Presidio.

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