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Clovis transplants new Christmas tree to replace drought-weakened one

New Christmas tree for Clovis

A new Christmas tree for the city, a large deodar cedar, was planted Thursday in front of the Clovis Civic Center, where a redwood once stood before it got fungal disease and was removed.
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A new Christmas tree for the city, a large deodar cedar, was planted Thursday in front of the Clovis Civic Center, where a redwood once stood before it got fungal disease and was removed.

After delays caused by equipment problems, Clovis officials managed to get their new Christmas tree transplanted Thursday outside Clovis Civic Center.

Under the watchful eye of a large, white-bearded elf, a deodar cedar was moved from a median on Temperance Avenue south of Gettysburg Avenue to City Hall.

The tree was transplanted in the 5-foot-deep hole left by its predecessor, a coast redwood that was dying from canker fungus brought on by the drought.

“We were not able to keep enough water on it because of the drought and watering requirements, and the tree died,” said Eric Aller, city parks manager.

The disease spread quickly – within a week, the tree went from green foliage to brown, city officials said. The redwood’s crown had browned completely, and there was browning along the sides edging toward lower parts of the tree.

We were not able to keep enough water on it because of the drought and watering requirements, and the tree died.

Eric Aller, Clovis parks manager

City officials decided to cut it down and replace it. The old tree’s root ball was pulled from the ground early Thursday.

The redwood had been the city’s Christmas tree for about 20 years, each year the focus of the tree-lighting ceremony in December.

“When redwoods are stressed they become more susceptible to redwood canker, a disease that kills tops and branches, usually one by one until the trees finally succumb,” said Bruce Hagen, an arborist and forester from Sebastopol in Sonoma County, where redwoods are plentiful. “The bottom line is that redwoods are a poor choice for California’s hotter, drier inland areas.”

At noon, the new Christmas tree, about 15 to 20 feet shorter but wider and more conical than its predecessor, was in its place and kept straight by ropes attached to surrounding steel poles.

The deodar cedar is a more hearty tree and is found in large numbers in Clovis. The cedar shows few effects from the drought.

This year’s tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 7.

Marc Benjamin: 559-441-6166, @beebenjamin

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