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Project to trim historic Lompoc stone pine trees now underway

The buzz of chain saws are filling South H Street in Lompoc, along with the crunching of a wood chipper and blast of leaf blowers.

They’re all coming from a work project the city kicked off on Monday to help preserve a grove of historic Italian Stone Pine trees.

It’s something many who live in the picturesque three-block neighborhood located between Locust Avenue and Olive Avenue have have long waited for.

“So happy. We’re overjoyed. Overjoyed to have it done,” said resident Denise Caballero. “The dripping sap. The mess. It doesn’t even matter. The noise. The fact that these trees are going to be protected for that much longer is 100 percent worth it.”

The trees are iconic to the City of Lompoc. Caballero said she’s seen people from around the world stop by and admire the decades-old trees.

“They stand in groups on the corners here and take pictures or in the middle of the street and get pictures of each other with these trees,” said Caballero.

While the pines may give the street an idyllic and charming appearance, they’ve also become increasingly dangerous.

“As the trees age, they become less stable and while it’s lovely to have the canopy over the street, some of the tree limbs have become over-extended, some of the trees have become unstable,” said consulting arborist Ken Knight.

Knight said about 17 trees have fallen over the past few years.

The normal width of these trees is about 40 feet,” said Knight. “Some of these trees have extended to 70 foot wide, so it’s simply not sustainable, so we’re going to pull some of them back and make them more stable.”

Crews will trim about three to four trees per day over the next few weeks.

“These trees are probably about 80 to 90 years old and their life span is about 150 (years), so we expect them to be here for a generation or more,” Knight said.

Caballero said she has waited for this project for years. With crew sawing right in front of her house, she’s excited to see it finally begin.

“It’s a blessing to still have the trees,” Caballero said. “I’m glad they didn’t have to be taken down yet. The time is going to come, but it will be later than sooner.”

As the trimming continues, portions of South H Street will be closed to traffic while while work is being done.

Parking will not be permitted on the street where work is taking place and residents and visitors are warned that sap will drip for several days following trimming.

Anyone with questions can call the Urban Forestry Division at‭ (805) ‬875-8034.

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