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If A 400-Year-Old Oak Tree Falls In The Valley... Why The Ancient Wood Collapsed In Canoga Park

Photo by Aidras via Flickr
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Shaking awake the neighborhood, a huge, centuries-old oak tree toppled in Canoga Park "barely missing the home that sat under its canopy," according to the Daily News. Estimated to be between 300 and 400 years old, the massive wood crashed to earth at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday at Chase Place and Ponce Street covering both the front and side yard of the house.

Said homeowner Frances Arrieta, "It was always just there, a beautiful old tree." Arrieta called LAFD, LAFD called a city maintenance crew, and the city maintenance crew said you're on your own, in so many words. The tree grew on private property so it's the family's responsibility to remove it.

Speaking to the ancient oak's demise, James Dean (really that's his name), oak tree expert and founder of the James Dean Group in Thousand Oaks, said tree essentially became "water-logged."

"We're in that time of the year when it's pumping massive volumes of water," said Dean, who helped draft Los Angeles' oak tree preservation ordinance in the 1980s. "An old tree like that will have different stress points and (the water's weight) just causes a massive failure. "It's kind of a normal phenomenon that we are sad to see," he said.
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Los Angeles Urban Forestry Division assistant chief forester Ron Lorenzen could see an image of the "beautiful tree" on Google Earth taken before it fell. The city does not have a count of its oak trees and does not know how many of the "old giants" are left, he noted, saying "There has been a large decline, anecdotally." He remarked that there are "still a lot of Valley oaks out there that are very old," noting, however, that there are "not many places for young oak trees to take root and grow."