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Cotati may move rare redwood from tracks

  • Prue Draper, left, of the Cotati Historical Society and Louise Santero, a longtime Cotati resident, stand next to an extremely rare albino redwood tree near the railroad track at East Cotati Ave on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 in Cotati, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

The rare chimera coast redwood tree standing in the way of SMART's train plans may have found a new home.

The Cotati City Council on Tuesday night will vote on a resolution to accept the tree from Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, select a replanting site from two potential spots and commit to watering and protecting the tree while it reestablishes itself.

SMART, however, hasn't yet decided whether it will allow the relocation of the 52-foot-tall tree that has lived for nearly seven decades about 15 feet from the existing railroad tracks at East Cotati Avenue.

Cotati's Chimeric Coast Redwood Tree

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The Sonoma-Marin rail agency's representatives said they are still gathering additional information on options for the tree.

Tom Stapleton, a former Sonoma County arborist who has led efforts to save the tree, said he submitted three bids to SMART for relocation. He declined to reveal the cost ranges or the names of the companies that offered bids.

SMART spokeswoman Carolyn Glendening said the bids are still being evaluated. She didn't say whether SMART would agree to pay for the move.

Cotati officials have been open to taking custody of the tree and have chosen two possible sites it could be replanted: Helen Putnam Park or the Veronda-Falletti Ranch, which is across the street from City Hall at East School Street and West Sierra Avenue.

City staff members recommended the Veronda-Falletti property, which is already fenced and may require only minor additional temporary fencing to protect the tree from livestock that graze in the open space. That location would require extension of irrigation lines, though, which Putnam Park would not.

After the tree becomes established, the city plans to install an interpretive sign explaining the tree and its history. Cotati said its costs amount to less than $10,000 and would come from developers' park fees.

SMART hasn't set a timeframe for a decision on relocating the tree.


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