By Deb Murphy

The Roosevelt Pine isn’t going to make it to the ripe old age of Sequoias in the mountains or to an impressive 250-foot height. But, steps can be taken to extend its life.

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That was the message delivered by Dustin Blakely, University of California Farm Advisor, at last Monday’s Big Pine Civic Club meeting—not the news members wanted to hear but enough motivation to take those steps.

Unlike humans whose vital organs can be brought back to full function, trees don’t heal damaged parts. And the 105-year old Sequoia that marks the north entrance to Big Pine has been stressed for a long time.

Sequoias reach grand heights and very old age in their natural setting—forests with roots sunk into soils rich in nutrients. That’s not exactly the scenario for the Roosevelt Pine.

Blakely ran through the steps necessary to extend the life of the pine.

Ed Morse has been in contact with tree preservation expert David Fulgham from Tupelo, Mississippi. Fulgham’s procedure would aerate the soil, reducing the near-concrete compaction and allowing roots to flourish and water to get to those roots. Since Big Pine can’t afford for Fulgham to tow his equipment cross-country, Blakely said “we’ll have to MacGyver it.”

Next, workers will start changing the grade, carefully lowering the ground at the base of the tree by eight inches and creating a big saucer around the circumference. Then comes three-inches of mulch, preferably pine straw and wood chips.

The final step sounds tricky. The pine should be occasionally irrigated but only when the zone around the tree is dry. Blakely stressed the irrigation should not be done with sprinklers, but with a hose from the adjacent campground.

The Civic Club and community have a few months to get the work done. Blakely said the aerating, mulching and grading should be done by this May.

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