Guerilla Art May Help Save Trees

Trees in Idyllwild need our protection against motorists

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Guerilla art is unexpected, usually anonymous and sometimes illegal in its application. For instance, every year before St. Patrick’s Day, a gigantic green shamrock appears on the street in front of an Irish pub in Omaha. Coincidence or guerilla art?

It’s not legal to paint the streets with shamrocks on March 17th or any other day.

“But it’s fun and gets people celebrating,” said the owner, who swears she doesn’t know where the shamrock came from.

However, those guerilla artists had to spray paint the shamrock on a busy street late at night (when there was no traffic around), and hope that the cops didn’t show up. They also had to make sure that the green paint dried in time. Because if it smeared, it would be a mess, and not a shamrock.

Idyllwild Arts student Jacob G. remembers guerilla art appearing on a tree in his hometown in Alaska.

“One morning, in the middle of our town park, a wire was wrapped all the way up and around a large tree,” Jacob said. “Attached to the wire were hundreds of paper clips that glistened in the sun. And, at the bottom of the tree, there was a single poem attached to one clip.”

Soon, hundreds of poems appeared on that old tree, and it was a moving and beautiful sight, he said.

He thought the tree poem originator was a teenage girl at school.

“We all said that we were going over to the tree and add our poems,” Jacob said. “And she refused to go with us. I think hers was already up there.”

Guerilla red reflector appears on tree

That got me thinking about certain trees in Idyllwild, namely one large one on Tollgate Road. It appears close to the road, and at the base of the trunk, there’s a large section of bark that has been stripped away.

More than likely, cars have been hitting that tree. Either people can’t see very well because they’re old, inexperienced in mountain driving, or have imbibed in too much alcohol. Either way, the tree is getting the worst of it.

Yesterday, a blue dot was spray painted on the trunk at the base. Guerilla art? Nope. It’s likely Cal Trans has marked this tree for chopping. How is this possible? It’s a tall, healthy tree that could be 100 years old. It doesn’t deserve to die because of poor drivers.

It might be too little too late, but I put a red reflector on the tree next to the blue dot. I should have added the red reflector months ago. It costs about $2.50 at Forest Lumber, and the nails were already in my toolbox. So I put my mark on that tree too. Now, we can only hope those who drive too close to that tree will see the reflector and veer off.

Edison marks their poles well

Notice that Edison and other municipals mark their poles well—with red, blue and yellow dots, and even reflecting bands. They certainly don’t want anyone driving into their poles. And many of them are close to the road.

As homeowners and conservationists, we can learn from Edison and their reflector caution. No one should be running into our trees in Idyllwild– if there are red reflectors on them.

On another tree on Tollgate Road, someone had put three red reflectors. They were not put in a straight line, but are there to lovingly to save that tree. However, two more trees down the road are not as lucky. They have bark stripped away because cars couldn’t make the turn. Red reflectors are desperately needed there.

Three red reflectors protect this tree

Ralph Hoetcher on South Circle Drive has a large tree on his property that is also close to the road. He put a sign with three yellow reflectors in front of it, and no bark has been stripped away.

All around town are trees that have been damaged by cars bumping or running into them. Their bark has been stripped away, leaving the tree exposed to parasites and inclimate weather. These trees need our help. If Cal Trans deems them a nuisance for most drivers, then there will be one less tree in Idyllwild to give us shade and shelter.

Guerilla or not, I challenge you to buy some red reflectors and place them on these trees in jeopardy, especially if they’re on your property. After all, a tree stump is a sorry sight to behold.

the attachments to this post:

Full red reflector

Tree Trunk

Tree 3 Reflectors

Trees 2 Tollgate

Edison Reflector 2

Red Reflector Tree

tree with sunspot

One Comment to “Guerilla Art May Help Save Trees”

  1. If there are no other signs of disease, it is probably just shedding its bark as part of the natural growing process, especially if it is a very large tree. Our very old sugar maple sheds its bark. However, young maple should not shed their bark. If your tree is younger, it may have a problem with a fungus. Keep an eye on it for a year and see how it does. If the leaves are okay and it is still producing seed, its probably fine.