Environmental and community activists with Treesavers held a public “one year anniversary memorial march” on May 15th to mourn the removal last year of what they say were 23 mature, healthy ficus trees along Second and Fourth Streets, between Colorado Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Santa Monica.

During the march, Treesavers, an environmental organization opposed to the tree removal, carried candles and before-and-after pictures of the 23 ficus trees. At a brief memorial service at Arizona Avenue and the Third Street Promenade lead by Susan Hartley, Linda Piera-Avila read a portion of Julia Butterfly Hill’s Legacy of Luna and Bob Wolff read his poem 23 Ficus Trees.

The tree removal, which occurred on May 16th last year, was part of Santa Monica’s approximately $8.2 million streetscape improvement plan on Second and Fourth Streets. Many of the city’s neighborhood organizations, together with over 11,000 signatures from the public, supported saving these trees. Treesavers’ efforts included attempts to convince Santa Monica city officials to listen to its residents and make tree protection and preservation, not tree destruction, a top priority.

Santa Monica is now creating an Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force to advise on the development of a long-range urban forest master plan, review specific urban forest issues related to the master plan, and serve in an advisory capacity to City Council on urban forestry issues. The deadline to apply to the task force is June 1st.

Applications are available on the city’s Web site at www.smgov.net/.