Grounds crews clean up tons of storm debris

The campus tree crew clears overhanging limbs along Heller Drive in December in anticipation of winter storms. The workers and other grounds crews worked throughout the weekend after the January 4 storm to clear tons of trees and limbs brought down by high winds. Photo by Guy Lasnier.

Campus grounds crews had their hands and trucks full in the aftermath of the 60- to 80-mile-an-hour winds that buffeted the region January 4.

Crews worked throughout the emergency campus closure and over the weekend, sweeping, scooping, and cutting up approximately 80 cubic yards of accumulated material shaken loose by the storm, said Dean Raven, senior superintendent of grounds services.

Raven said at least a dozen trees and tons of limbs and foliage fell. A redwood that stands next to the appropriately named Redwood Building at Quarry Plaza lost 60 feet of its top. The foliage fell across a corner of the roof and across the deck. Another redwood lost a 50-foot crown, which dropped onto the Cowell Provost's house. A large oak fell over near the East Remote parking lot, and three redwoods fell by Family Student Housing. A huge Douglas fir dropped near the Moore Creek drainage by Graduate Student Housing, and a cypress was lost on Cardiff Lane. Several trees fell across fire roads in the upper campus, Raven said.

In December, before the storm, the campus tree crew had trimmed dozen of trees along roads and pathways. Raven said a regular preventive maintenance program managed by campus arborist Roger Edberg kept tree damage to a minimum, but this was a very strong storm.

During and after the storm, crews cleared roads, culverts, trails, and paths. Raven said crews even asked to work Sunday, a request he readily agreed to. By Monday, when students began returning, most of the fallen material was cleared. "I was very impressed," he said.

Ilse Kolbus, director of physical plant, said she was amazed both by the amount of fallen trees and limbs and at how quickly it was cleared.

At one point, the campus street sweeper could progress only 100 feet before its bin was full, said Raven. Driver Ron Diethrick would dump the bin in the middle of the road to be picked up by a skip loader driven by Frank Locatelli and trucked away. The sweeper could then continue on for another 100 feet before filling again.

Raven said the debris would be "green cycled," with trees and limbs chipped and other materials such as redwood duff used in landscaping either on campus or through the city of Santa Cruz green cycling program.