Redwoods and Ravens :100-Year Redding Residents Saved by Citizens

On March 29, 2011, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., almost 100 local passersby signed a petition stating they wanted to save the six 100- year-old redwood and sequoia trees located at the corner of Oregon and Yuba streets in downtown Redding.

This action, by admitted Tree Huggers, began a six-year effort to make sure that the proposed Shasta County Court House architectural plans would retain these majestic trees that are home to countless species. This urban forest has been present since the early part of the 20th Century when the Dobrowsky family, local jewelers, lived in the Craftsman-styled house.

This family, who came to Redding and subsequently set up a successful business on Market Street, likely had no idea that the trees they planted would be in jeopardy 100 years hence. I, too, never thought I would be in the middle of a Save The Trees campaign, although I suspect my interest stems from my late Uncle Theodore's article in the Napa Register in which he spoke of setting out to plant redwood trees throughout the Napa area in the early 1900s. Also, family photos show we are related to John Muir, who married into the family in the 1800s. So maybe it's in my DNA to cherish trees.

Jumping forward to the 21st Century, and thanks to some sleuth work, I was able to see the architectural plans for the proposed new courthouse from the firm in Seattle. I noticed that the trees were not sketched into the architectural plan rendering.

Thus began my phone calls and emails to long=time local friends and key players who I knew would be ready to go as far as chain themselves to these 60-foot-tall living monuments that help make Redding a Tree City USA. On a daily basis, many people drive or walk by the trees on their way to the post office and area businesses and cannot help but be blindsided by these stately trees. Most of us simply don't look up on our hurried way around town. We assume these trees are part of the landscape, and have always been there, and will always be there.

But, when it became known that these particular trees were in jeopardy, along with the Dobrowsky house, the rallying cry of tree-loving citizens began.

After Shasta County and the city of Redding sold the land to the State of California, a representative from the California Division of Judicial Council came to Redding to outline the new court house plans and receive public input. The meeting was held at Redding City Council chambers, attended by approximately 100 persons who came to hear the courthouse project manager explain how the plans would effect the house and the trees. There was much discussion and interest in saving the Dobrowsky house and its trees, and incorporating them into the court house plans.

After the presentation the representative was presented with petitions that contained several hundred names that asked that the trees be saved. The representative was, at that time, non-committal on this request. However, over the next several years, the project manager changed hands, and many phone calls and emails were exchanged between the next court house project manager, Ms. Peggy Symons of the Judicial Council in Sacramento.

Sometimes it seemed progress was being made, and then the conversation would get nowhere. Then, on one particular call, Ms. Symons said she agreed that five of the six trees would be saved.

I said, "Thank you, but all six have to be saved. They are an Urban Forest family, they produce a great amount of oxygen, they are the home of many birds, insects and small animals. And most uniquely, in the fall, the Ravens of Redding return and sit on the very top branches and peer throughout the city. This grove of trees are part of Redding's heritage."

As you drive by that corner of Oregon and Yuba streets today, you'll see that Dobrowsky house was unfortunately unable to be saved, but the construction crew, under the orders of Ms. Symon, have left the trees intact. Crews will replace the earth around them so the root system will absorb moisture. And hopefully, the architect has included a park-like setting for court house employees and all of us who like a shady respite now and then, under a 100-year-old canopy.

It should bode well when Redding applies for Tree City USA in following years, that its 100-year=old trees will continue for many years to come for the citizens of Redding.

Frank Treadway has been a resident of Redding and Anderson since 1945. Involved in many community activities for the last 55 years, he holds an AA from Shasta College, a BA from the California State University, Chico, and an MS from the University of La Verne.

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29 Responses

  1. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Thank you.

  2. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    Yesterday’s reception at wonderfully preserved and restored Frisbee Mansion revealed once again how rare is respect for cultural and natural history in our village. Because we retain so little of what was cherished from the past, we are obliged to protect what remains. At least the trees will remind us of what was there. Thanks Frank.

  3. Michelle says:

    Thank you for advocating. I am not a tree hugger in any sense, but I dislike it when but only for the sake of convenience contractors say it is too difficult to work around a tree or, more commonly, “It will just die anyway.” So what if it will die anyway, everything does. When it dies, deal with it. Trees enhance the aesthetics and value, but more importantly provide shade and bring life to a sterile ground. It is funny those same contractors who want simplicity and ease while working, are the first to park their work truck under the tree.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Not that these trees will live long in an urban landscape, but old growth coastal redwoods are 500-1,000 years old, and can live as long as 2,000 years. These 100-year-olds are young ‘uns.

      • Michelle says:

        True, but they still may last decades. At a school I worked at they were going to cut down the valley oaks in the parking area but a few of us complained. That was 14 years ago and said trees still remain alive. Look at present day Uprep parking lot. Back when I was a student at Nova they had paved trees around the trees in front of the gyms. That was about 40 years ago and the trees are still there. Shading the parking area!

  4. Cathy says:

    Thank you for your efforts, which seem to have paid off to everyone’s benefit.

  5. Beverly Stafford says:

    The words to a song came to mind: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Nice save.

  6. DougM says:

    This reminds me of the effort to save the Melaleuca trees during the Lithia Expansion. They were saved
    (due to the kind people at Lithia). As an aside, be sure to search out and enjoy the many cork oaks in Redding, Oh! and the bald cypress near Janya restaurant, AND check out the topped giant behind Heavenly Donuts.
    We have some great trees!

  7. KATH SURBAUGH says:

    Thank you!

  8. Gary Tull says:

    Thank you so much, Frank. Your concern and effort are widely appreciated.

  9. AJ says:


  10. Kathryn McDonald says:

    Thank you, Frank.

  11. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I used to eat lunch beneath those trees back when there was a nice little deli in one of the houses, now gone. Good save.

  12. Tim says:

    How much did the redesign and 6-year delay cost tax payers?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      About $250,000.

      Oh wait……that’s the projected cost of the recall election. My bad.

      • Tim says:

        Current construction costs are estimated at ~$1,000/square foot, which is 4-5x what a sane person would pay – could have bought 3 new jails with the difference…

        • K. Beck says:

          Thanks for all your years of work on this. Saving trees is not an occupation for the timid, and/or weak! Especially in Redding!

        • K. Beck says:

          This goes to Tim:

          Take your complaint to:

          455 Golden Gate Avenue, 8th Floor
          San Francisco, CA 94102-3688

          They are the people responsible for building new court houses.

          The trees did not cost that much to save!

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          So that the $250,000 recall election could have built more than 25 new 6-ft x 8-ft jail cells at $200 per square foot? Damn that stupid recall election!

  13. Barbara Stone says:

    Fantastic work, Frank…I, too, wondered what would happen to those trees sitting in the now empty lot.

  14. Frank, you’re my hero. Thank you.

  15. Tom says:

    Thank you Frank

  16. Karen says:

    Yea, You!

  17. kay ekwall says:

    thank you!…..I lived in anderson and redding years ago, and truthfully I miss so many things that were lovely and so much more welcoming and creative, then now. I miss the old Kutras park where we used to go and sit on the beach and swim and watch the boat shows. After moving here in southern oregon, it chagrines me as I see huge swathes of trees being taken out for this and that and sometimes their plans don’t even come to fruition so it was a sad waste to take out the trees anyway. They have said our area used to be almost tropical with all the trees and the moisture they put into the air and cooled it down and now it is getting drier and more dangerous as we are seeing this year with the fires. We have many activists here to have tried so hard to save the old growth. It is so hard to fight the status quo and those who make money off it all so thank you so much for being one of the ‘tree huggers’…..kay

  18. Joanne Gifford says:

    Thanks Frank ! Love all you tree huger’s

  19. Barbara B says:

    Thank you, Frank, et al for saving the Redwoods. Now hopefully they will water and take care of them. We lost some of the Redwoods down by the County Public Works yard. They were victims of the drought and were cut down.

  20. Richard Christoph says:

    Thanks for the great effort and excellent result, Frank. Well done.

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