Land Park In Sacramento Is Losing It’s Majestic Redwoods

Land Park is Losing its Redwoods

Land Park’s Majestic Redwoods Are Dying

I certainly have respect for those who work hard to care for Land Park. There may be a problem though, with policy directives, at the very least.

Visitors to Land Park may be curious of why the Redwoods are dying, or what a dying 100 year old Redwood looks like. The first plantings in Land Park were in the decade beginning 1920, and the golf course came along in 1924.

Sadly it’s pretty obvious, and the causes, fairly easy to understand.

Viewing The Great Loss
On Land Park Drive, directly across from the entrance to Sacramento Zoo, at the entrance to parking spaces at Fairytale Town, (further on is the WPA Rock Garden) are huge Redwoods rising from level ground between the sidewalk that parallels Land Park Drive, and the upslope that climbs to easy Fairytale Town parking.

Once there, simply look upward. Then bring the eyes downward and follow the stem (tree trunk) to the ground where the root zone is and look closely at the two tracks between the dying Redwoods. Anyone can see that on both sides of the two tracks (a two-track is a country road) that the Redwoods are dying.

View from Fairytale Town Parking facing Sacramento Zoo.

On the leaf, from the lowest branch to the pinnacle height at the crown, the needles, that once nourished the tree with fog water have become a tragedy of desiccation.

Desiccation on the leaf surface:
Fog has been replaced with dirt and dust, road film, dried petroleum residue, microscopic fragments of tire wear and disc brake wear debris – crushed, pulverized, and blown upward over the tops of understory trees, the oaks, elms, and sycamores, in swirling clouds – along with the pulverized litter fall from all species of plants, and the parched runoff of soil erosion in the gutters. Ever wonder where it lands? How far does it travel? What if there is no wind? The City of Trees, has become a landscape of airborne pollutants.

View a short video <5 minutes:

Land Park Air Pollutants, Dust Storms of October

Filmed on two different occasions 19 days apart in one month.

Below is a video filmed in December – William Land Park Redwood Herbicide

This one minute video, that perhaps adds perspective to the CONCERN:

Why Are Land Park’s Majestic Redwoods Dying?

Like a two-track country road…

The soil at the root zone is compacted on a daily basis with heavy trucks and trailers, making the rounds, while the drivers get out and walk around to pick up pieces of garbage with 5 gallon buckets or empty the few overflowing trash cans. The over mechanization of Land Park by Park maintenance staff, is in no small way responsible. There is no reason for a puddle to occur here except soil compaction by continuous truck travel – hence the tire ruts.

8:00 am March 20, 2022 (5 days after a light rain fell)

Dates of Late March Rains

Rain March 15 3am-8am and another light rain late night March 27-28

The resulting puddle stayed until April 5, 2022, as Land Park maintenance staff continued to drive through it, in both directions, further compacting the soil at the root zone of the Redwoods along Land Park Drive. Everyday 4,000-5,000 pound trucks drive in or out, towing trailers, using this route through the mud hole and ruts, compacting the soil root zone of the Redwoods.

Testing Soil Compaction – with a sharp edged new shovel.

By April 5, 2022 only 8 days after aforementioned second light rain, a common measured shovel depth of 2 inches was reached (with all my effort and weight).

Photo of mud hole, where maximum shovel depth of 3 inches was reached, (taken the morning of April 5).

All the circulating air pollutants mentioned earlier are blown into the air by scheduled vehicular or tractor size assault. (See three photos below)

Throughout the WPA Rock Garden, the paths, gutters, and around the parking pavement, back pack blowers, those noisy polluting machines, are in use and are another torment to wildlife and morning walkers, and people with their pets.

Dying Redwoods In A Green Park

Some of the Redwoods may be drought-stressed, this concern is exacerbated (upon further inspection) by soil compaction and airborne particulate matter <10 microns settling on the surface of the leaves (needles). (Photos 062321)

The Dying Redwoods at Land Park, are not planting strip trees. In terms of water needs, these Redwoods are more like lawn trees, with regularly scheduled waterings nearby.

Someone might say that people are trampling the root zone and compacting the soil, which can be true, and may be considered another added impact, but only in the case in 3-4 of the 27 dying Redwoods at Land Park.

(higher use areas, in terms of foot traffic numbers, picnic areas, even team sports, all show less soil compaction – with deeper shovel depths of 3”- 4” or greater, and are more easily penetrated during simple soil compaction tests)

National Park research suggests it would take many more people than visit the Redwoods at Land Park, to cause the apparent significant damage at the root zone, known as Soil Compaction. The effects of drought, are for the most part, mitigated at Land Park by the scheduled watering of the lawns. The shovel I used to test soil compaction depths throughout the Park, showed greater compaction only on the truck routes used by staff as they drive around and through the stands of redwoods.

Pictures show tire track pathways in daily use by trucks with trailers traveling through and around numerous stands of dying Redwoods at Land Park.

Economic shortcuts, and efficiency of labor costs, are not the only criteria.

Besides 1) soil compaction impacting trees at the root zone caused by short-cuts for two-track truck routes often towing trailers, there are three more areas of negligent actions wherein haste makes waste: 2) desiccation of the leaf surface by airborne pollutants and particulate matter that rise upward in turbulent clouds of dust; 3) the over use and overspray of Glyphosate for weed control around trees and pathways; 4) lack of consideration of habitat loss affecting seasonal survival of resident or migrating avian species due to an imposed over-mechanized maintenance schedule.

William Land Park in Sacramento is really a beautiful park.

WPA 1940 Rock Garden Arbor of Rosa banksiae (Lady banks rose) April 2020

William Land Park, in Sacramento, is a beautiful park, with almost 400 documented species of wildlife!

William Land Park iNaturalist Catalog of Documented Species of Animalia


But… due to: 1) the pace of over-mechanization apparent in increased use of daily ‘maintenance truck’ routes, and 2) the neglectful disregard of the root zone complex and contiguous urban forest canopy, and the various habitats provided by the landscape at Land Park; many of the “Majestic Redwoods” as they are known, are dying due to soil compaction at the root zone and desiccation of the leaf by airborne dust and particulate matter.

Copious amounts of herbicide over-spraying and overuse, create dry, lifeless zones of dirt around the base of almost every species of tree at Land Park, and along miles of curbs and decomposed granite pathways.

How Much Herbicide Is Enough?

This 36 second video clip begs to ask, how much is enough? 

Effects Of Glyphosate Around The Root Zone, And Curbside; Mid-April 2022

Yes, the Redwoods could be considered drought stressed, but use your eyes, how many others show similar signs of drying? At Land Park, the months of June and October are documented as times of great dust storms generated by tractor mounted blowers; with enormous dust clouds visible and the machines audible blocks away. It’s hard to even see the trees, or the park.

This dust settles on the leaves, and needles of trees., leading to desiccated surfaces and clogged stomata (pores), and impacts to photosynthesis and chlorophyll production (along with possible toxins from glyphosate or AMPA residues). In the video at top of this post, the point is well illustrated having combined two different days of footage 19 days apart in October.

As if desiccated leaf surfaces weren’t enough, adding to that:

Soil Compaction Destroys Soil Structure

Most of the roots of a redwood tree are only three to ten feet below the soil surface. The shallow root systems can extend over one hundred feet radius from the base, intertwining with the roots of other redwoods. In groves, this increases their stability during strong winds and floods.

Trees suck water upward through microscopic pipes called xylem. As water molecules evaporate from the pores of leaves at the top of the tree, other molecules are pulled up from the roots to replace them, in a journey that takes a few weeks from root to treetop.

Compaction destroys soil structure, thus increasing density, carbon dioxide concentrations (plant roots need oxygen) and heat build-up. Additionally, it creates surface runoff rather than allowing water to penetrate to the roots. Compaction subsequently decreases the amount of large pore space available, as well as oxygen in the soil, water penetration, and nutrient influx.

Business As Usual, just another day…. (adjacent to Land Park Drive)

When compaction increases soil density, root elongation is inhibited, causing poor development of root systems essential for summer survival Plant roots need oxygen to survive, and as the density of a compacted soil increases, carbon dioxide and other toxic gasses do not readily move from the root zone. Compacted soils are hotter in the summer and colder in the winter.

This route should be closed to vehicles

Photo of Land Park staff maintenance truck and trailer leaving the mud hole ruts of soil compaction on March 31, just 3 days after a second light rain fell.

This truck route is shown below and the dying Redwoods on either side of the two-track. The leaves, (called needles on Redwoods), are dry and brown. The Latin word sempervirens means “always green,” or “evergreen.” Sequoia sempervirens… are the coast redwood, planted at Land Park as lawn trees.

Redwoods are coniferous trees. All genre included in this family (Pinales) are related by having seed cones in which each scale is fused with its bract, the ovules are erect, and the paired seed wings, if present, come from the seed coat, and needles for leaves. Sequoia is the genus of the coast redwood.

The combined impacts of soil compaction and desiccated leaf surface structures are of great detriment to the drought-stressed Redwoods.

Leaf wetness may increase plant hydration in two ways, either by providing a direct water subsidy accessible through foliar uptake that increases tissue water content, or by suppressing leaf water loss to the atmosphere, thereby facilitating more efficient foliar hydration along with stem xylem water from the root zone.

In spring and summer, at Land Park, watering of the lawns, causes formation fog at night, which rises to become fog drip, and along with stem flow, returns to the surrounding landscape, and the trees are able to nourish their own roots and other plants

While rainfall would provide the larger amount of water for use at the root zone, when fog water becomes available in the root zone during significant fog inundation, root uptake contributes again, to water acquisition for redwoods, and local understory plantings at Land Park, since plant roots are specialized for water absorption. Soil compaction negates this action as seen below where an unnecessary two-track has been causing pre-mature die-of of the Redwoods.

This two-track should be closed to all vehicular access.
The two-track by April 14, is becoming a two-way thoroughfare.
April 12, 2022 The Dying Redwoods

Shown below; a new depression of soil compaction is appearing 150 feet from the main mud hole with the three dying Redwoods, along Land Park Drive.

Fog, Leaf Wetness, Evapotranspiration, Fog Drip, Root Fog Water Uptake:

The Journey Of Water

Whether by light rain or fog, when water accrues on plant surfaces beyond a certain storage capacity, water will drip from the leaves onto soil or may make it to the soil via stemflow.

The needles have a thick cuticle, the stomata are recessed and each stomatal pore is capped by an epicuticular wax plug. The way Redwoods deal with dry conditions is they close their stomata, holes on the leaf surface, that allow water to escape and capture CO2.

Science investigations (field research) have revealed that numerous, brief fog events are accompanied by indications of sap flow reversal, the largest magnitude and therefore most definitive flow reversals were seen when fog events were heavy, and sap flow reversals were measured simultaneously throughout all parts of the tree which showed a whole-plant, leaf–soil flux is involved.

This positive impact is sufficient enough to be observed at the whole plant level and suggests that foliar uptake does contribute meaningfully to recharge of water stores within plants, the repair of cavitated conduits which drive cell expansion and even leads to increased carbon fixation.

Big trees capture a disproportionate amount of carbon dioxide, making this action a bonus in California’s Climate Credit.

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Tom DiFiore

Ah, there is a Mandolin in my life!

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