Woman climbs Torrey pine to keep it from being cut down

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SAN DIEGO -- A woman joined a group of peaceful protesters in Ocean Beach who were gathered around a Torrey pine Thursday in an effort to keep it from being chopped down.

The 68-foot-tall tree was scheduled to be cut down from the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue Thursday morning. The City of San Diego has deemed the Torrey Pine unsafe and is removing it in advance of the upcoming storm season.

A 19-year-old woman, Crystal Rose Speros, climbed the tree in an effort to stop workers from cutting it down. Her action and the presence of the protesters proved to be successful after Atlas Tree Service left Thursday around noon without cutting the tree.

“It’s older than I am, so it’s part of this community," Speros said. "It’s an old soul that can’t defend itself."

"These trees are family to us. They are old,” said Ocean Beach resident Kevyn Lettau.

A spokesperson for the city said the city's arborist and urban forester, along with the arborist with the city’s tree maintenance contractor have all investigated the tree and monitored it closely over the past few months. The experts agree that even after eliminating the risk of the decayed portions, the balance of the tree and signs of root upheaval indicate the risk that the tree could come crashing down.

But John Ambert, chairman of the Ocean Beach Planning Board said he believe the city should look for ways to save the Torrey pine.

“There’s 2,000 of these trees left in the wild and the fact that they are systematically removing the trees off this block is really just inappropriate. These trees, I believe, are protected at the state level so we haven’t seen any type of permit in terms of the California Fish and Wildlife service to demonstrate that there is an absolute need to remove the tree,” Ambert told FOX 5.

After several hours at a stand still, Atlas Tree Service backed out for the day. leaving the community feeling some sort of victory -- for now.

“It’s great and it’s really a victory for this tree,” said another resident.

The city told FOX 5 they are working with its contractor to select another date for removing the tree, but it will likely be sometime next week.

For a full report from the city’s contractor, click here.

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