Saving the Big Tree

A Microcosm of the effort many are involved in to honor the sacred in Nature, and attempt to save what we can of the remaining natural treasures of our endangered Home Planet.
Big Tree Poster

We recently took part in a local effort to save one of our neighborhood’s living treasures. On October 13, 2002 a rally was held in Santa Monica, California, where we live, at the location of what is possibly the oldest and largest tree in Santa Monica. The purpose of the rally was to gain attention to the imminent threat by land developers to sacrifice the life of this historic tree for a potential development project. Also, to inspire the city’s Landmark Commission, which was to meet the following day to vote on the fate of the tree, and to possibly begin a Landmarking process that would ultimately qualify the tree as an Historic Landmark, thereby protecting it from being destroyed.


The tree, a Cedrus Deodara, or “God’s Own Cedar”, is approximately one hundred years old, with an expected lifespan of several hundred years more, and is one of the most remarkable natural treasures of the area. The owner of the land it is located on had passed away, and the land was put up for sale by the church that she had willed the land to, which she thought would honor her wishes and protect the tree from land developers. The church subsequently decided to sell the property, thus putting the tree’s fate in the hands of whatever the new landowners decided to do with the land it was on. Rampant development of the neighborhood, rising property values, and a recent history of disregard for the city’s remaining historic sites by city planners, meant that it was very likely a new owner could choose to remove the tree in favor of a more profitable use of the land, not recognizing the great value of the tree itself. The family that had lived there for many decades had always protected this tree and feared for its fate if it should fall into uncaring hands. The daughter of the original land owner, Greyling Gentry, organized the rally at this critical time, out of her love of the venerable tree, and gained the attention of local newspapers, television, and radio. We have long admired and been inspired by the great beauty of this tree, seeing it almost on a daily basis, and when we heard of the jeopardy it might be in we also joined in the effort to help save it; for the sake of the tree itself, and also for the living symbol of the endangered natural environment of Mother Earth that it embodies.

The rally in front of the tree. The Big Tree pic.

As a result of the publicity the rally generated, and the great response from many involved groups, including The Sierra Club; The Tree People; environmental activists from as far away as Seattle, Washington who answered the clarion cry; and the people of Santa Monica including the city’s Mayor, Kevin McKeown, the Landmark Commission voted on October 14, the day following the rally, to nominate the tree for consideration to qualify it as an Historic Landmark. A preliminary decision to look into the matter further was made in a following meeting on November 11, but a final decision to determine the future of the tree will be made on December 9. Hopefully then the efforts of all those who rallied to save this majestic tree will prevail, and it will be finally voted into the protected Landmark status it needs to survive. We will update this report with the outcome of that meeting.


The Rally to Save the Big Tree Update!!




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