Fort seeks public help to cut unsafe trees back

Doug Keeler (dkeeler@taftmidwaydriller.com)
Taft Midway Driller
Historic Fort's large olive trees  need to be trimmed back to prevent larger branches from falling.

The large olive trees in and around the Historic Fort have long been a symbol of the landmark.

They provide cooling shade in the two large courtyards inside the walls of the Sutter's Fort replica built more than 80 years ago and a canopy for the weddings and social activities held there.

The 12 large trees inside the two courtyards were planted in 1939 to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

But they haven't been trimmed back in at least eight years and now the large branches from the trees are breaking off in high winds.

Large branch broke off in recent windstorm. Other trees at the Fort have suffered similar damage.

"They're beautiful but they're dangerous," Fort Preservation Society Executive Director Edith Lauren said.

The problem for the Fort Preservation Society is that it can't afford the estimated $27,000 cost to have the 33 trees safely and aesthetically trimmed.

The Fort operates primarily on office rentals, weddings and fundraisers.

The pandemic has eliminated fundraisers for the past year and cut into the rentals for weddings and other activities, leaving the Fort with limited funds for ongoing expenses like power and water, and none for bigger costs, so it has started a Gofundme page (https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-olive-trees) to seek public donations.

Laurin said a recent windstorm damaged several trees in both courtyards and they will continue to be a danger unless they are trimmed.

"They crack in the wind and we are always afraid someone is going to get hurt," she said. "They've been falling on both sides."

The Fort has tried two other gofundme fundraisers recently for other costs.

If you want to help, use the gofundme link or simply send a check to the Taft Fort Preservation Society, 915 N. Tenth Street Taft Ca. 93268