Dead Pines Chopped Down at Rec Center

The five large stone pine trees on the island in front of the Palisades Recreation Center had to be cut down last week.

According to L.A. City Tree Surgeon Supervisor II Steve Dunlap, the trees were dead: a victim of bark beetles. Four additional dead pines in the lower picnic bowl were also cut down.

13-rec center trees chopped

Bark beetles, about the size of rice, can increase dramatically when sufficient food is available. Typically this food is in the form of drought-stressed trees. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, high numbers of these small beetles (outbreak populations) attack trees en mass.

When beetle populations are low, healthy trees often produce enough resinous pitch to drown the beetles that attempt to enter. When trees are stressed (in this case by drought) they may be unable to produce sufficient amounts of defensive pitch. In addition, many beetles carry fungi that further impair the tree’s defense system.

A Heard about Town item in the News’ May 4 issue sounded an alert: “Many of the pine trees at the Recreation Center are dead, dead, dead. Likely a result of the drought and bark beetle. I have had three dead trees removed from behind my house and was told that they were a danger as they get brittle and limbs can fall off. Don’t know whether that’s true or not, but the arborist had no reason to try to frighten me as he had his crew already removing my trees. If true, the trees at the park need to come down ASAP, but I don’t think the City of L.A. will share my concern.”

At a Park Advisory Board meeting that night, the trees were a topic, and Rec Center Supervisor Erich Haas said that he had requested they be inspected by a city arborist.

PAB member Madeline Hyman showed the News the trees after the meeting. They appeared to have a fungus on the bark. The next day, the News called a city official and requested that he send somebody to look at the trees.

On May 16, Dunlap emailed the News: “I need to get approval from our Public Information Director Rose Watson before I can speak in regards to the tree issue at Palisades Recreation Center. I have an Inspector assessing the trees this morning.”

Lee Trask, a member of the PAB’s master planning committee, said in a May 25 email: “We are reaching out to the L.A. City arborist to determine how many more trees may need to be cut down [in the park].” (The News counted 10 trees that had been cut down between the park tennis courts and neighboring homes, but it was unclear if the stumps were recent cuts.)

Spokesperson Watson confirmed on May 27 that the five trees in front of the old gym were victims to the bark beetle, and added: “We definitely will replace these trees.”

As part of the Potrero Park plan, parking spaces were going to be built between the (now-chopped) trees on the island. “The master planning committee will make recommendations to L.A. Rec and Parks regarding what do in that area,” Trask said. “We would like to ask the community for input.” Email:

Five pine trees had to be cut down at the Palisades Recreation Center.

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