About 60 people gathered beneath the Grandfather Tree in Azalea Park Saturday afternoon for a Native American blessing of 35 trees slated to be felled around the bandshell.
Charlene Storr of the Tolowa Nation and Marvin Richards of the Howonquet tribe sang blessings to honor the fir trees — and nature in general — reminding people that change must be accepted, as well.
The city decided to fell the trees after it cut down numerous along Lundeen Lane at the east end of the park and realized the extent to which they were infected with conk, a fairly common Douglas fir tree disease. That prompted them to conduct a survey of all the trees in the park to evaluate them for health, any danger they might present to the public, aesthetics and shading on the native azaleas there.
Most of those in attendance Sunday also protested at numerous city workshops and council meetings last year, expressing their disapproval of the city’s decision to fell the trees. They cited an arborist’s report that said only eight presented a safety concern or were unhealthy. A date has yet to be slated for the cutting.
“Trees contribute so much for us,” Storr said, holding a small fir twig in her hands. “We need to know the direction to take care of this land, to take care of this world. It’s hard to live the way we were taught in the beginning. Give us guidance to know and move us in the right direction.”
“This is a great way to end what has been a journey for lots of us and save as many trees as we could,” said Teresa Lawson, president of the Azalea Park Foundation that sponsored the event. “I think it’s changed the way we think about trees in Brookings.”
Storr welcomed everyone to her land, an area her tribe has lived on for thousands of years, she said.
“The trees will tell you when they’re ready to go,” Storr said. “And (the city) is looking to keep the community happy. There will always be change. A lot of things in the world happen are out of our control.”
Dennis Triglia, the only city councilor who voted against the tree-felling proposal, reminded everyone of the interconnectedness of everything in nature, including mankind.
We must rededicate ourselves to the trees,” said Calla Felicity of Brookings. “They are the fiber of the park. Let them all know we are stronger now for looking out for them. Every ending is a beginning.”
Reach Jane Stebbins at firstname.lastname@example.org .