Donated ‘Sutter Trees’ Shade Former Burn Zone
SANTA ROSA, Calif. –When Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital broke ground in late September on its new, major expansion, Brad Sherwood attended the ceremony in his official role as a local school board member. He’s also vice president of the Larkfield Resilience Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to helping support neighbors in the hard-hit Larkfield Community near the hospital.
The devastating Tubbs fire that swept through Santa Rosa on Oct. 9, 2017 destroyed 1,700 Larkfield homes, including Sherwood’s. Today, the neighborhood is only 15% reconstructed.
Typically, residents find that to rebuild their houses and return to their neighborhood, they’ve already stretched their insurance dollars. They couldn’t afford to put in nice yards, too. So they come home to a neighborhood with no landscaping, no trees. No shade. No gardens.
“The fire took out everything,” says Sherwood, who works for the Sonoma County Water Agency. “Before, we had a neighborhood filled with trees that been here for more than 50 years. The fire made the whole community look like a moonscape.
“At the groundbreaking for Sutter Santa Rosa’s new three-story hospital tower, I noticed quite a few mature live oaks and Japanese maples that were going to be dug up and displaced by the new expansion. I thought, ‘Let’s transplant those trees.’”
Leaders from Sutter Health immediately agreed to help by donating several dozen trees and shrubs: mature coastal live oaks and Japanese maple trees, as well as camellia bushes and other shrubbery.
“We call them the Sutter Trees,” says Sherwood.
The donation of the trees is only one way that Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital gives back to neighbors who are still recovering from the wildfires of two years ago—and one way that Sutter Health gives back to the communities it serves.
Working with Sutter Santa Rosa’s chief engineer, Jeffery Miller, as well as Aaction Rents equipment rental company and Image Tree Services, community volunteers moved and transplanted the trees within 24 hours of the hospital’s groundbreaking ceremony.
A young Larkfield couple who just moved back into their newly rebuilt home received one of the Sutter Trees. Down the street, an 84-year-old widow received a tree and shrubbery. So did a young family who just returned.
“We are rebuilding our community in a resilient way,” says Sherwood. “And Sutter Health is playing a key role.”