Stodick tree removal expected today |

Stodick tree removal expected today

by Susie Vasquez

Chainsaws buzzed as branches fell from a 100-year-old cottonwood tree on Toler Lane on Thursday morning, a prelude to the final removal of the tree from the old Stodick Ranch.

“It’s very sad,” said Stonegate resident Ana Amicarella. “The tree is beautiful. It’s not like we have a lot of trees in this valley. We must save the ones we’ve got.”

Amicarella said a group of residents and neighbors have worked with the planning commission to try to stop the removal to no avail.

“I’m very disillusioned,” she said.

The fight isn’t over. Amicarella said neighbors are taking legal steps to save the tree through Attorney Scott Brooke.

Barbara Havens said the tree is registered as historic with the Nevada Division of Forestry.

Havens presented a petition objecting to the removal of the trees at the Sept. 2 meeting of the Douglas County commissioners, saying the hawks and owls living in the trees are still nurturing their young.

These birds are migratory and removing the trees is a violation of protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“We’re going to the commissioner’s meeting with representatives from the Audobon Society today,” she said.

The old Gardnerville ranch site, which includes several outbuildings and a grove of cottonwoods, is scheduled for removal to make way for Stodick Estates, a new housing development.

H&S Construction is developing the site and Estabrook Tree Works has been hired to remove the trees.

A certified arborist, Jim Estabrook said one of the tree’s center trunks is dead and will soon rot out. When that happens, the outside trunks – one leaning south and the other two leaning north over Toler Road – will eventually fall.

Round trunks are the strongest configuration nature produces, but when that roundness is broken, the stability of the tree is gone, he said.

Ranchers and others have tied metal cables to the trunks. Those cables have grown into the tree, compromising the cambium, or growing layer just under the bark. It could take anywhere from one to 10 years for the tree to fall but it is dying, Estabrook said.

“I do consulting and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to save trees,” he said. “I’ve looked at this one hard and long.”

The tree is just part of a grove of stately cottonwoods and despite the objections of many Douglas County residents, Estabrook said the rest of the trees should also be removed for safety.

“Many of the trees aren’t as old, but any change, like a change in land use will kill them,” he said. “Roots adapt to certain circumstances. If they’re if used to getting water from a ditch, that’s what their root system is tied.

“Once the houses built and the fields no longer irrigated, it will radically alter the trees’ water source,” he said.

Removal of the grove is expected to take one to two weeks, depending on the difficulties incurred, Estabrook said.

— Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 213.