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The Climbing Tree
updated: Oct 09, 2012, 3:49 PM
By Ania Hunter
Why is it so appealing to a child to climb a tree? I asked my eight year old daughter this question and
the answer was simple. She can get very high and still feel safe surrounded by limbs and that she just
likes being inside the tree surrounded by leaves, it just feels good. The key terms in her statement were
surrounded and safe. She experienced this in "the magic" tree growing and thriving on the Wilcox
property. The tree was a beautiful old ficus. Its limbs hung low, often touching the ground, its leaves
were high and formed a dome spanning about 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall, its bark was smooth and
clean. It even had a small opening in the foliage around the base of the dome, an "invitation" for the
children to come inside and experience the magic of trees. Playing in this tree will now have to be
distant memory for my daughters and the neighborhood children because a few days go the tree was
grossly mutilated, most of the limbs were removed the canopy is gone and all the parts were shredding
on site. It will never again be the "magic tree" for my children or any future generations.
I discovered the destroyed tree a few days ago just after the tree "trimmers" shredded it. I was taking
my dog for a quick ride around the property and decided to swing by the tree. I was having a perfectly
good day, enjoying where I live, enjoying the proximity to nature and a off leash dog space where we
can all run and ride freely. My day took a sad and unexpected turn for the worst. I had to go pick up my
children from school knowing one of the things they will request to do is go climb the "magic tree." I
had to tell them upon returning home that the tree had basically be destroyed. We were all lost in tears.
After discovering the mutilated tree I immediately rode home and called the city parks department for
an explanation. The explanation I received is that they are having a problem with homeless people and
graffity artists hanging out in the Wilcox at night and they do not have enough park rangers to regulate
the problem. So the decision was made to clear any spaces that appear to be preferred "hang out"
locations. I was also informed that this was not the end of the destructive process, the "clearing" of the
hide out locations will be continued throughout the property. As a local veterinarian I deal with
"parasites" on a regular basis. Fleas are the most common parasite we attempt to eradicate. The fleas
tend to like to congregate on the tail, I have never proposed cutting off the animals tail to control the
problem, I have also never proposed having the entire body shave to make the space less desirable to
the fleas. As we all know they are fleas and will just go somewhere else to hide or find a way to make
the space work!
Destroying the magic tree has not only been grossly upsetting but it was a headless waste of time,
money and man power. I am desperately hoping that the continuation of such poorly thought out
actions will stop or that, at the very least, the neighborhood residents are consulted before any more
destruction is completed.
Anja W Hunter, DVM
Santa Barbara, CA
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