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Ashland Fighting to Protect Lithia Park Trees

Residents are petitioning to protect trees more than 100-years-old.

Posted: Mar 25, 2019 11:26 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- Ashland residents are fighting to protect Douglas Fir trees in Lithia Park. People spoke to the Ashland Park Commissioners Monday night about adding the grove of twelve trees to a protected list of Ashland trees, known as the Ashland Heritage Trees. 

The petition to protect the Douglas Fir trees started after commissioners voted in January to remove two of the trees. The two trees were going to be removed in order to expand the Japanese Garden, which sits right next to the grove. 

However, residents are hoping they can prevent the trees from being touched. Some people even came together to form a new, informal group called the Friends of Lithia Park. The group goal is to protect and preserve local trees. 

"These trees were a part of the first phase of implementation of Lithia Park right after it was founded," Julie Norman, Friends of Lithia Park Outreach Coordinator, said. 

Local boy scouts planted the twelve Douglas Fir trees in the park in 1916. Since then, each tree has grown more than 100-feet-tall. 

Brian Holley lives in Ashland and says cutting down two trees might not seem like that big of a deal, but he says it could have an adverse effect on the remaining ten trees. 

"All trees are interconnected underground," Holley said. "They [researchers] call it the wood wide web."

Holley says that's why members of Friends of Lithia Park think it's so important to protect the grove as a collective unit. The group of trees needs to remain together to stay healthiest. 

A tree can only get on the Ashland Heritage Tree list if it's approved by the commissioners. To get approval, the tree must meet specific qualifications like distinctive form, size, age, location, species, unique qualities or historical significance that prove its' importance. 

Norman is ready to submit the application to protect the grove of Douglas Fir, but she says she wants to get the support of the community first.

On Monday, she launched a petition to gather signatures over the next couple of months in hopes of demonstrating that there is community-wide support to keep the trees.

The grove is located between Lithia Park's Japanese Garden and Sycamore Grove.

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