100-year-old oak done in by disease

Oscar Delgado Jr. trims one of the limbs from the diseased valley oak Friday. (photo by Tim Dewar)

Tim Dewar,  Ojai Valley News publisher

Regular pruning over the last 20 years and being surrounded by irrigated grass likely did in a conspicuous valley oak tree in downtown Ojai.

Friday afternoon, tree trimmers from Call Oscar Tree Service began cutting down the tree, which overhung part of the Ojai Unified School District’s (OUSD) offices as well as the sidewalk and several parking spaces on North Montgomery Street.

OUSD officials asked Ojai arborist Thomas Bostrom, from Bostrom & Associates, to perform a risk assessment on the tree in June. He issued his report to the school district July 12.

In his report, Bostrom estimated the tree to be approximately 65 feet tall with a trunk circumference of approximately 16 feet. He noted the presence of a shelf fungus on the west trunk approximately 18 feet from the ground, which he indicated was cause for serious concern.

The fungus, he explained, likely started in the tree’s roots and grew upward, destroying the structural integrity of the tree. He said water used to maintain the grass around the base of the tree likely supplied the fungus the moisture it needed to spread. Once infected, Bostrom added, there is no known cure.

Because of the high potential for the tree, or a number of its limbs, to fall either on the building or on the nearby street, Bostrom recommended its removal. He estimated that if it were not taken out, it would fall on its own within three years.

Later, Bostrom estimated the tree to be approximately 100 years old.

Oscar Delgado, owner of Call Oscar Tree Service, said the tree contains approximately 25 tons of wood.

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