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Still Waters

One man's fight to save a California tree

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Still Waters

After a huge wildfire killed a forest in San Diego, California, in 2002, Cody Petterson set his heart on replanting the trees.

As a child, he had happily played and hiked among these statuesque conifers, which provide shelter to black bears and black-tailed deer. By the age of 37, he wanted to do his bit to conserve and repair the land.

But in the six years since he began, California has experienced severe drought, which scientists link to global warming, and 650 of Cody's 750 seedlings died. Cody's emotional account of surveying his dying trees struck a chord with thousands of people on social media when it was posted on Earth Day, in April.


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It is a nice gesture but seems doomed to failure.  Even very good intentions cannot match the power of environmental change.  The fires were a symptom, the change in soil and atmospheric moisture is longer term.  In my area, it is Western Red Cedar.  From my back deck I can see three large cedar trees dying.  Conditions were favorable when they grew to 70' tall a and a yard in diameter at the base.    Now they are browning and losing needles and limbs from the top.  Planting red cedar seedlings will not save the species in this little area.  

One person can make a difference, but you have to pick your fights and keep nature as an ally. 

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