The Space Shuttle Endeavour is coming to South Los Angeles for a 12-mile, two-day parade before arriving at its final home at the California Science Center. That’s the good news. Everyone loves a parade. How often do you see a 78-foot-wide, five-story-tall spacecraft being towed down the street? The bad news is that 400 trees have to be cut down to accommodate the width of the space shuttle.
But for some residents in South L.A., the excitement of the shuttle rumbling through their neighborhoods quickly faded when they learned that 400 trees will be chopped down to make room for the behemoth.
Many worry that the replacements — young, wiry trees that will provide little shade — will pale in comparison to the mature magnolias that line the Crenshaw corridor. Others are concerned that the bare streets will further depreciate property values.
Didn’t NASA do an environmental impact study on transporting the space shuttle to its final home before selecting Los Angeles?
Cutting down mature trees reduces the amount of shade that keep buildings and sidewalks cool during the summer. Replacing mature trees with double the number of young trees won’t replace that missing shade for a generation. Which is why most communities have made it difficult for homeowners and developers to cut down mature trees. Cutting down even a single mature tree can be a substantial loss to a neighborhood. Multiply that by 400, the loss becomes an environmental tragedy.
This reminds me of the classic episode from “The Andy Griffith Show,” where the fine citizens of Mayberry spruce up the place for a Hollywood movie and the movie producer stops them from cutting down of a historic oak tree because they were ruining the small town atmosphere he was looking for (begins at the 20:00 mark).
Like a very young Ron Howard, I went through a Hollywood movie making phase during the late 1970’s. (Except my father refused to get me a Super 8 movie camera as developing the film was expensive for a wannabe George Lucas without an allowance.) That an old oak tree could be sacrifice for a Hollywood movie—or “progress” under different circumstances—was a disturbing idea to me then. Sacrificing 400 mature trees for a spacecraft relic is a disturbing idea now.