Historic trees at BHS will likely fall

Plenty of people offered to help.

But in the end, there just wasn't enough time to save several historic trees at Bainbridge High School.

"The trees have a very low chance of survival," said a Wednesday email announcement from Jerry Elfendahl and Olaf Ribeiro, who led efforts to save cherry and other trees at the west end of campus. "Had this been six months to a year ago, it might be worth the try."

The cherry trees were donated to the school district more than 70 years ago by the Bainbridge Japanese American community, but are scheduled to be removed when construction begins on the school's new 200 building this summer.

Elfendahl and Ribeiro expressed their dismay over the plans at a school board meeting earlier this month. School officials said the doomed trees would be replaced by new cherry trees, but encouraged the pair to try and save the old ones.

The men had planned to ask City Council on Wednesday for $2,000 to move the trees before scrapping the plan.

The announcement said they were "overwhelmed" by support for their cause, but the necessary equipment won't be available in time to save the trees before demolition of the building, which will likely occur next month.

There is a small possibility that construction equipment for the building could be used to save the trees at that time.

If not, Elfendahl and Ribeiro said they hope the wood will be incorporated into local art projects.

"We regret and join the school directors and many others in agonizing over the loss of the Japanese cherries," they said. "The value of the trees lost is substantial monetarily and historically."

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