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July 2, 2022

Heritage Trees dwindling

SANTA CRUZ — Thousands of heritage trees have been cut down in the county since 2000, according to the Sierra Club of Santa Cruz County. 

In Santa Cruz County, a tree is considered “heritage,” or “significant,” if it has a trunk circumference of 44 inches or larger. Heritage trees are recognized all around the world, and are classified as such based on their size, age, unique value and ecology.

“The oldest heritage tree in Santa Cruz is the Cliff Street Cypress on top of Beach Hill at around 150 years old,” said Leslie Keedy, urban forester for the City of Santa Cruz.

All Santa Cruz Cypress and Oregon White Oak trees, along with many others, are considered heritage trees, and a permit must be obtained to trim, destroy or remove one.

“As arborists, we become the voices of the trees,” said Sean Davis, a certified arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts. “There are so many people out for a quick dollar who are focused on tree removals that it is necessary we must view trees as valuable resources. We are stewards of nature and our job is protect large mature trees for future generations to come.” 

Davis continued, “Professional arboriculture must be centered on preservation, which uses a combination of science and technology to provide care and promote the health and safety of our ever-shrinking urban forests. We speak for the trees because they cannot for themselves.”

According to the National Wildlife Federation, monarch butterflies along with other wildlife inhabit woodlands in central and southern California where forests are imperative in order for them to survive.

The Sierra Club’s conservation committee, which meets multiple times a year to discuss conservation issues across the county, including heritage trees, met Aug. 30 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Louden Nelson Community Center, Room 2, at 301 Center St. in Santa Cruz. For information, visit


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