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Drought uproots 80-year-old tree at Santa Barbara Courthouse

An 80-year-old cedar tree was uprooted and chipped at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

The tree is among several others in the garden that have aged and suffered through the 6 year drought. Many of them are dead and rotten. Landscaping screws spent the afternoon chopping down the tree.

“It’s especially unnerving when we lose specimen trees that have been here longer than you and I combined,” said Robert Ooley.

Robert Ooley is an architect for Santa Barbara County. He has an office that overlooks the courthouse’s sunken garden. He’s seen the big cedar tree outside his office for years.

“We have such an affinity for landscape and our growing environment around us and to watch… it’s like a good friend and he’s gone now. He’s chipped,” said Ooley.

Crews made a startling discovery after they chopped the tree down and inspected the stump. It was hollow and rotten inside. It’s similar to other trees they’ve seen since the water crisis.

Olley calls it the cycle of life and he’s afraid it’s come full circle for other trees in the garden. He says several other trees will be chopped and taken down before the the year ends.

“We as humans move around every 3, 4 or 5 years. This tree has been in the same spot for 80 years. If it can only talk and tell us about what it saw, and what went by in the last 80 years. It wold tell an amazing story,” said Ooley.

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