More trees to replace cut downs for Endeavour

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The president of the California Science Center said today the organization has agreed to increase the number of trees it will plant to replace ones being removed to make way for the space shuttle Endeavour’s journey from Los Angeles International Airport to Exposition Park.

But some residents continued to decry the tree-removals, insisting there must be a less-destructive option.

Calling the shuttle “a national treasure,” CSC President Jeffrey Rudolph told the city Board of Public Works center officials worked with the city and tree specialists to develop a route to move the shuttle that would cause the least impact. But moving the 78-foot-wide, 58-foot-high and 122-foot- long craft through city streets necessitates some disruption.

He insisted, however, that the route was developed to affect “the fewest trees we could possibly remove.”

Within the city of Los Angeles, 268 trees will be removed to clear the path for Endeavour to be transported, although three of those trees are large palms that will be re-planted.

To replace them, Rudolph said 768 trees would be planted, including some large box trees — countering claims that mature shade trees would be replaced with saplings.

He also said, “None of the trees to be removed is a heritage tree or a native tree.”

He said the new trees would be planted within 120 days of the city approving the re-planting permits. He also noted that in addition to replanting the trees, the Science Center has also committed to doing extensive sidewalk repair work to improve walkways that are damaged by existing trees.

In addition to the trees being removed in Los Angeles, nearly 130 trees are being removed in Inglewood.

Some residents told the board they were still upset by the plans to remove the trees. One resident, Kevin Brown, told the board that if a rover can be successfully landed on Mars, there has to be a way to move a space shuttle 12 miles without ripping out hundreds of trees.

“Leimert Park is a national treasure too,” Brown said. “… I’m all for the science, but there has to be a better way.”

Pamela Austin, who described herself as a “longtime resident of Crenshaw Boulevard,” said she appreciated the re-plantings and community improvements the Science Center planned to undertake, but she disagreed with Rudolph’s characterization of the trees.

“They are heritage trees, some of them,” she said. “They’re our heritage.”

She said she was disappointed that an agreement on tree removals seemed to have been reached between the Science Center and the city long before residents had a chance to weigh in. She said the process should be improved so “we don’t come in on the tail end and have to make a deal after it’s a done deal.”

Gideon Kracow, an attorney working with some South Los Angeles neighborhood groups, said the Science Center’s commitment to increase the number of trees and make other improvements “will help make South Los Angeles a greener and healthier place to live.”

The presentation to the Board of Public Works was strictly informational, with no action required by the panel. Tree-removal permits are issued administratively by city staff.

The shuttle was scheduled to depart Kennedy Space Center today en route to its retirement home at the California Science Center. But bad weather forced a one-day delay. Officials said the shuttle will still arrive in Los Angeles — carried by a modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft — on Thursday as scheduled.

Once it arrives at Los Angeles International Airport, after making some low-level flyovers of the Southland, it will spend several weeks at a hangar to prepare for its transport to the center. That trip is expected to take place on Oct. 12-13, a journey that will be highlighted by community celebrations and parties.

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