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By Tom Ferrall
Staff Writer 

Fallbrook's Christmas tree comes down

Replacement tree to be in place by end of March


Last updated 3/5/2018 at 4:30pm

Shane Gibson photo

Roots are all that is left the day after county workers took down the 50-foot Monterey Pine that stood in front of the Fallbrook Community Center and served as Fallbrook's Christmas tree for the holiday tree lighting celebration. The dying tree was removed Feb. 20.

The Monterey Pine that stood in front of the Fallbrook Community Center for 36 years and served as Fallbrook's Christmas tree for the festive holiday tree lighting celebration was cut down by county workers Feb. 20 after it was deemed too sick to save.

"The tree was dying and was too sick to trim," said Jessica Geiszler, marketing manager for County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation. "We found from experts that any additional trauma to its branches or its trunk would have actually sped up its mortality."

Geiszler said the 50-foot tall tree – which was "four to six years old" when it was planted in 1981 – was weakened by tough weather conditions over the years and showed signs of a beetle infestation.

"We're always sorry to lose a tree, especially heritage trees that stand for decades in the face of things like drought, severe weather and invasive species," said Geiszler. "But prolonged exposure can weaken a tree to its core, causing stress and making it susceptible to infections. Sometimes they pull through and thrive; other times – despite our best efforts to water and treat them – they do not."

The Fallbrook Community Center attracts 150 to 200 visitors a day and the tree was becoming a safety concern, according to Geiszler.

"It's a really high-traffic location and the tree was just too sick to be predictable," said Geiszler. "Falling limbs posed a real risk to pedestrian safety and it was a hazard where it stood. As standard practice, when a tree dies and it's in or near a public thoroughfare, we have to trim it or remove it, and that is to protect the safety of park users as well as the tree's surrounding habitats."

Upon completing removal of the tree, Geiszler said workers prepped the area for the arrival of a new tree.

"We're going to plant a healthy, good-sized tree in the next month," said Geiszler Feb. 22. "By the end of March, you should see a new tree in that spot. It will probably be anywhere from 5- to 10-years old. The team right now is looking at trees at local nurseries and is going to pick a species that's going to thrive in that environment and will grow to be that community icon that its predecessor was."

The new tree will take over the responsibility of being Fallbrook's showcased holiday tree.

"The goal is to continue to keep this spot as the location of the Fallbrook tree lighting, and the new tree will continue that tradition for Fallbrook residents and visitors," said Geiszler. "That tree will be well-planted and thriving by the time December comes."

Shane Gibson photo

Fallbrook's Christmas tree shines bright at the 2016 holiday tree lighting ceremony.

Last year's holiday tree lighting ceremony (held Dec. 1) attracted a very large crowd and featured musical entertainment, singing and dancing by local performers, activities for kids, food and drink, and holiday shopping opportunities. Attendees could see the tree was struggling but it held up gamely while being covered with holiday lights.

"It looked beautiful and it was a great last hurrah for that wonderful tree," said Geiszler.

Geiszler said Parks and Recreation enjoyed putting on the 2017 tree lighting party and is looking forward to hosting the 2018 edition Nov. 30.

"It's a great way to show off the community center and it's a wonderful way to get neighbors together to kick off the holiday season," said Geiszler. "We're already planning the event for 2018. Our tree's going to be a little bit smaller but it will be much healthier."


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