McCone Seismic Work Means Moves for Redwoods

by Fran Marsh

Seismic upgrading of McCone Hall will necessitate moving and replanting two dawn redwoods growing near the west entrance, says campus landscape architect Jim Horner. A third tree, southwest of McCone entrance, could not be saved and has been removed.

Excavation connected with the upgrading imperiled the trees, and the campus has brought in a company specializing in moving large trees, said Horner.

"Where at all possible, the campus wants to retain specimen trees for educational and historic resources," he said. A decision was made to focus resources on the two trees most likely to survive boxing, removal and replanting. The third tree was judged an inappropriate candidate for moving because of its size and extensive surface roots.

The two remaining trees are now in 9- and 16-foot square boxes and stabilized with cables.

They remain in place in the ground pending removal to a site south of the construction area, where the larger tree will be permanently planted and the smaller tree held in its box.

After construction is complete, the smaller tree will be replanted near the new entrance.

Both trees will require special irrigation systems geared to their specific water needs for several years. And, in the end, said Horner, there is no guarantee either tree will survive. " But we are doing our best to assure they do," he said.

Wood from the tree that was removed will be saved for possible use in the rehabilitated McCone Hall, Horner said. This tree has disproved a legend that had grown up around the redwoods flanking the McCone entrance. (See Berkeleyan Oct. 25, 1995, page 3 -- on-line version of this edition unavailable.)

The story goes that they were planted in 1941 from seeds brought back from China by Professor Ralph Chaney, who discovered the species -- thought to be extinct -- in a remote region. Chaney may have planted the trees, either from seeds or from cuttings, but he did not do so in the '40s.

Rings from the log of the tree removed number no more than 33, putting the tree's planting in the '60s.

In addition to those at the McCone site, several other dawn redwoods are growing at locations across campus.


Copyright 1997, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
Comments? E-mail