Five years of drought followed by a historic wet and stormy winter has wreaked havoc on rivers, roads and forests throughout the region and state, but in Turlock no place has been hit harder than Pedretti Park.
The westside park, with its four softball fields and one baseball diamond, has suffered a number of damages to its urban forest. Approximately 110 redwood trees were lost due to impacts of the drought, and recent storms brought down 10 mature eucalyptus trees.
“We begged and prayed for rain — and we got it,” said City of Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager Allison VanGuilder. “We should have been more specific: not all at once and not with the wind.”
Three of the eucalyptus trees fell during the storm on Jan. 20 and the other seven fell during the storm on Feb. 17, which brought winds between 25 to 35 mph and gusts up to 55 mph.
The recent loss of eucalyptus trees wasn’t only a hit to the aesthetics of the park, but also to the sports tournaments scheduled to play at Pedretti Park in February.
The trees were significant to the landscape at Pedretti as a safety barrier. The bulk of the fallen trees located East of Field 3, provided a barrier from freeway traffic and kept balls from entering the freeway. In addition, approximately 90 feet of cyclone fencing and gates were damaged by the fallen trees.
The damage caused the City of Turlock to cancel four adult softball tournaments scheduled to play at Pedretti in the month of February, affecting approximately 64 teams. The City was unable to reschedule the tournaments as the park is booked every weekend throughout the baseball and softball season.
City crews are working to remove the fallen trees, rebuild the missing fence and installing additional safety netting along the fields.
According to Parks, Rec and Public Facilities Supervisor Mark Crivelli, the field should be ready for league play on Tuesday and tournaments by Friday.
VanGuilder said a comprehensive report on what the storm damage will cost the City, including loss of tourism dollars due to the cancelled tournaments, is being put together and will be presented to the City Council in coming weeks.
The City already has a plan in place to replace the redwood trees lost by drought.
Turlock received a grant from Pacific Gas & Electric to replace the trees with 60 drought-tolerant trees of varied species. The types of replacement trees include Sycamore, Chinese Pastiche, October Glory (Red Oak) and Crape Myrtles.
The City’s plan is to get 24-inch box trees to start out with a larger tree to help speed up the growth of the trees. This will help provide shade and improve the overall look of the complex. The goal is to have dead trees removed and new trees planted by the beginning of May.