Four Indian Rock Park eucalyptuses are being cut down by the city. Credit: Citizen reporter

Berkeley is felling four of Indian Rock Park’s blue gum eucalyptuses due to safety concerns.

After an unusually high number of limbs fell in the park last fall, city arborists analyzed the park’s seven eucalyptuses, parks director Scott Ferris said. Two were rotting from the inside, they found, and one was infected by a parasitical sulfur fungus. A fourth tree was healthy, but leaned over the road and touched power lines. If it were to fall during an emergency, Ferris said, it could block emergency vehicle access and prevent neighbors from evacuating. All four were over 50 years old.

The rotting inside of a eucalyptus in Indian Rock Park. Courtesy: Berkeley parks department

A few readers noticed removal work start last week and wrote into Berkeleyside. “They are large and appear healthy,” one reader lamented. “They define the park and skyline.”

Ferris said the city had no other option.

“Trees are like a human body,” he said. “You can look at somebody and think they’re healthy, but they may have some illness inside them. Unfortunately, unlike humans, we don’t have the ability to go in and remove things from trees, and we often don’t see it until it’s too late.”

Three eucalyptus trees, which are currently undergoing crown cleaning and reduction, will remain in the park once removals are finished next week. The city will plant 10 native trees — California Buckeye, Western Redbud, California flannelbush trees — at 8 a.m. on Feb. 28.

Read a Jan. 27 memo from the city manager about Berkeley’s tree planting efforts

While the timing of the removal is not related to the Great Eucalyptus Debate, Ferris said the flammability of the invasive species is the reason eucalyptus are not being replanted on the site.

The winter’s storms were not a factor in the removal, Ferris said. Berkeley lost 21 trees of different species on city land during the storms.

Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. A former music journalist, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, San Francisco Examiner...