Los Angeles residents are upset over the loss of 400 trees through 12 miles of urban landscape as the final segment of the Space Shuttle Endeavor travels its way to the California Science Center, where it will be put on display.
On October 12th, the concluding journey will be celebrated with a two-day parade, from Los Angeles International Airport to the Science Center, but raises concern in the community.
This voyage must be completed through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood since freeways lack the adequate width to serve the shuttle’s 78-foot wingspan. An airlift was unmanageable because of the shuttle’s weight.
|Ficus Trees Line the Streets of Inglewood, CaPhoto Credit: waltarrrrr/Flickr|
Work crews have been clearing the path in South Los Angeles for weeks, removing trees and dismantling utility poles.
Angry Los Angeles occupants believe that cutting down so many trees not only impacts their local environment, but also eliminates shade since the trees were full-grown and mature. There are millions of trees in Los Angeles County, but this voyage is an entire 12-mile path that is now stripped.
“We just wake up to our tree being cut down,” said Tina Field, a resident who grew up in the neighborhood, “our childhood was taken away, it’s really heartbreaking.”
Fields, among many offended tenants, feels robbed of her landscape and curious why a more practical alternative was not utilized.
“It just doesn’t seem all that right,” Field said.
The California Science Center Museum defends its decision to transport the shuttle through the streets of Los Angeles as the best possible means for preserving the aircraft.
The Science Center released a statement through their official website:
“We picked routes through the cities that would have the least impact on surroundings. We’ll be using a state-of-the art Endeavour Transportation System that will allow us to maneuver precisely around trees, light poles and utility poles wherever possible. Pruning is also another tool being utilized in this effort.”
The California Science Center promises to replant two trees for every one tree removed. This serves minimal short-term purpose to the people who live off these streets. It is inconvenient to cut down perfectly healthy trees for a temporary purpose. By replacing the loss with two adolescent trees, it will take numerous years to get back what the Los Angeles occupants had.
The demolition plan to cut down the trees was approved during a public hearing at the Board of Public Works meeting. Community members packed the Board of Public Works meeting at City Hall to voice their concerns. Final approval was granted to the California Science Center.
The concern with such an impactful approval is the lack of following standards through an Environmental Impact Report, or EIR. The California Environmental Quality Act requires this report for any project that “may have significant effect on the environment.”
Bulldozing hundreds of trees in an urban Los Angeles area falls under this category. Yet, the Science Center placed more focus on acquiring their new NASA exhibit instead of following appropriate procedures. Some LA residents take pride that the shuttle will be placed at the California Science Center, others are not convinced that it’s meant to be there.
“We need those trees and not for furniture or houses but to sit where they are helping keep the air clean,” said Candice Armstrong, a resident of Inglewood, “They give animals a place to live. Let the Endeavour find another way to its final resting place; or change the final resting place.”
Placing the Endeavour at the California Science Center puts a primary focus on monetary benefits for the State of California versus its environmental impact on the plant and animal life in the area, a city highly polluted as is.
“The shuttle is a non-living piece of equipment,” said Armstrong, “It is not more important than a living tree. Why don’t people listen to what is going on with our earth?”
The California Science Center states that $500,000 will be spent in cutting down the trees and planting new ones in the area. The anticipated boost in tourism is a main driving force behind the final journey from LAX to the museum.
The Endeavour is a monumental part of United States history. Built after the loss of the shuttle Challenger in 1986, the Endeavour became NASA’s fifth space shuttle orbiter. It made its first flight in 1992 and in its 25 missions; it orbited the Earth over 4,600 times and completed 299 days in space.
“Being able to visit the Science Center and view American history from space right here in Southern California is unbelievable,” said Armstrong, “but if they can put a man on moon then they can deliver to it the Center without cutting our trees down. Seems like a shortcut.”
- Kellie Reince