The longest residents of the Motherhouse property are not the Sisters, but the trees. They are our old and dear friends, and co-dwellers on our land. Our Monterey Cypress, although not indigenous to this area, is estimated to be more than 300 years old and was probably planted by the Franciscan Missionaries.
The trees help form the character of our land. Our trees are good for the environment. They help reduce carbon monoxide and bring us clean air and shade. According to the U.S. Forest Service research, through photosynthesis the average tree in a residential neighborhood will annually clean about 330 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air, as well as provide enough oxygen for a family of four. We have more than 470 trees providing oxygen for 1,880 individuals!
Our trees are also home to an amazing array of tenants: birds, insects, squirrels, and even wild turkeys, to name just a few. Trees reduce flooding by helping to reduce runoff. Did you know that studies have shown that five minutes of looking at a tree reduces your blood pressure and muscle tension? They bring peace, nourishment and safety. Trees improve the quality of life for our Sisters, families and friends, and our guests and neighbors, by creating a peaceful and relaxing healthy space reducing traffic noises.
Consistent with all of nature, our trees do not have an infinite lifespan. They, too, age, get sick and die. Because of safety concerns we periodically prune and maintain our trees. After a winter when some trees fell, the Sisters consulted an arborist to help determine the number of dead trees in our forest. We were astonished to learn that 41 of our 470 trees were dead, and in need of removal.
Two grand old dames, the Bay Laurel and the California Sycamore, were at the top of this list. Our beautiful and ancient Bay Laurel fought a long, hard life because it was planted in a poor place for its nature (a wet area for a dry-loving tree) and was completely rotten and decayed on the inside and could have failed at any time. A California Sycamore looks like a thriving tree and has a full lush canopy; yet inside is a cavity which extends over 10 feet diagonally through the trunk of the tree and below ground. The Bay Laurel has been removed and the California Sycamore is scheduled to be removed. All the trees scheduled for removal are in a similar condition and must be done to keep our Sisters, their families and friends and all our guests safe.
Consistent with the City of Fremont’s regulations, we filed our arborist’s tree removal recommendations, and received a permit to remove 41 dead trees in two phases over the next two calendar years. The City also advised that we replace 20 trees of significant stature; e.g., 24” box size or larger, over the same course of time.
In keeping with our dedication to the earth and our recognition that we are connected to the web of life, we will be replacing the trees. We will seek locations where they will not be competing for the same canopy, we will consider the water resources of the property, and choose trees that will also be appropriate for the space available. Considerations will be made for proximity to our historic buildings and aesthetics.
We are beginning to contract for the removal, purchasing, and planting and the total estimated costs are $65,000. We are asking our friends, families and benefactors to help us defray some of this cost. If you can make a donation of $400, this would help with the expense of replacing one tree. If you can donate $40 it will help with the cost for the removal of the trees.
In addition to preserving the historical beauty of our property, we are motivated to maintain our park-like setting as we become aware of the climate change problem. While its effects are still unknown, potentially many life forms and species on our planet are threatened. The importance of planting trees is high priority.
Few of us will be remembered, beyond our families and communities, years after we are gone. We invite you to join us to maintain something that future generations can cherish. By planting a tree, anyone can make an enduring mark. We ask for your support in sustaining the integrity of our land for our tree restoration project by making a donation within your budget. We would be very grateful.