Old growth vs. bamboo
I am writing to voice my displeasure with the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission that recently voted to kill two 130-foot tall Douglas fir trees — old growth.
Unfortunately, the commissioners were not willing to compromise and save the two trees, leaving 98 percent of their project intact.
I also have a concern that private funding is allowed to drive Parks and Recreation policies — as this project is funded by a private donation.
Instead of making an excuse as to why the trees should be cut down, the commission should be coming up with reasons to save them, such as climate change, shade, carbon sequestration, legacy, and the small changes that would be required in the project.
The plan already contemplates cutting other trees. Citizens are only asking that these two large old-growth fir trees be saved.
Three of the commissioners, Jim Lewis, Joel Heller, and Mike Gardiner, fists full of dollars, and with a plan approved by the donors, were clearly influenced by that money.
I am calling on the three commissioners and the donor to agree to a change in the plan, in order to save these two large, legacy trees. It’s the right thing to do and makes it a win/win.
“Americans will vote for the lowest common denominator until they get the government they deserve.” — H.L. Mencken
Ashland likes to call itself a “Tree City” — but it seems it’s more interested in removing trees than preserving them. Kinda like it’s a “Bee City” — while it’s busy removing any bee habitiat via the WAP(weed abatement program) — remember — 4 inches or die. The “harvesting” of these beautiful trees for a bamboo forest is an obscenity. The Doug firs(our state tree) are congruent with the ambience of Lithia Park and Southern Oregon in general.
This phony expanded Japanese Garden is not. It’s for tourists who can walk through it spouting haiku, discussing the influence of Seven Samurai on world cinema, and thinking how sophisticated Ashland must be. They want sophistication, they can sit thru a couple a more Shakespeare plays. I’d rather sit down against the bole of a Doug fir and indulge in a little omphaloskepsis — look it up — than spend a millesecond in a Japanese Garden. And these magnificent native trees are gonna be replaced with bamboo? Bamboo is a noxious spreading pest that’s extremely messy and very hard to control. I speak from experience.
But what’s easy to control are the members of the Parks Commission. Write down the names of the clowns who voted for “harvesting” and vote ’em the hell out next election.
Hold Black accountable
When I look at the current Japanese Garden situation in Lithia Park, I must question this process from the get-go. It seems that a private citizen with a fat checkbook and a wish list walked into Ashland Parks and Recreation and was given permission to do a makeover of our beloved Japanese Garden. This donor even found the Portland designer himself. Was there a public demand for such a makeover? No.
I daresay these two trees are just the beginning, as the grand plans for the “re-do” appear to involve extensive changes. The Japanese Garden has been lovely just the way it is for these many years, and most recognize that there is also beauty in maintaining continuity and historical context, especially in parks.
Disturbing statements are emerging of having to charge admittance for future upkeep of this new “authentic” garden. How is it that a wealthy citizen can write a check for over a million dollars, and re-design a section of our public city park to his personal liking, and the citizens will then be charged a fee to use it? I encourage you to question this process.
The person to hold accountable for this fiasco is Michael Black, director of Parks and Recreation. We watched him take a sledgehammer (figuratively) to the 43-year-old Senior Program in 2017. Now we are watching him, literally, take an ax to our beloved Japanese Garden in Lithia Park.