Volunteers from the Our City Forest program discovered this morning that 23 trees, recently planted on Meridian Avenue, were sawed off by a vandal.
The trees were planted just south of Dry Creek Road in San Jose. “Trees were severed from their roots, the canopies left dangling by their support straps,” Our City Forest posted on their Facebook page. “We are very saddened by this act of vandalism.” The 23 10-foot trees were planted just last year by volunteers and members of the community.
Our City Forest, which has served the city of San Jose for the past 20 years, aims to plant trees in needed areas in order to build community and improve the overall quality of life in the area. But what made these trees particularly special was the amount of engagement the project got from the neighborhood, particularly from Pierluigi Oliverio, the San Jose city councilmember that represents the area.
Rhonda Berry, CEO of Our City Forest said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the councilman’s commitment. “We don’t have funding for tree care, it requires someone stepping up,” Berry said. “Oliverio stepped up and paid for the maintenance for these trees out of his office budget. It was a big deal.”
“I don’t know what mean or unkind person would chop down 23 trees,” Oliverio said. “It’s very sad.”
The 23 trees, which were a mix of Chinese Fringe and Yew, cost about $100 each. However, Berry said that the effort put into planting and maintaining the trees was worth much more than the monetary cost.
“It took immense effort,” Berry said. “We engaged a lot of the community, and had volunteers from a lot of high schools and local colleges.
Officials are reaching out to neighbors who might have had security cameras rolling when the vandals struck. Berry said that Our City Forest will have to wait until the area seems safe enough to plant the trees again, which she predicts will not be until after October.
Despite the felling of the trees, however, Berry knows it won’t stop the team from continuing to plant trees every day.
“Trees have countless benefits for the community, including clearing the air, lowering temperature and improving health,” Berry said. “We’re going to keep planting and doing what we do.”