The man who loved trees

Posted on | November 7, 2011 | 5 Comments

Scott Wilson in the courtyard of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works headquarters, where he had gone in June 2011 to protest the felling of an Arcadia oak grove by the county Flood Control District. Photo: Emily Green

Scott Wilson, founder of North East Trees, died this morning after collapsing in his Eagle Rock garden over the weekend. He was 89.

The man whose urban greening career started with a massive oak planting at Occidental College in 1989 went on to build a non-profit that combined urban forestry with storm water management, river restoration and town planning. In the last 22 years, his team of landscape architects and horticulturists have been responsible for 35 public gardens and the planting of some 50,000 trees. As he fought to revive the Los Angeles River, former staffer landscape architect Jessica Hall remembers his clarion call being “We’ve just got to outlive the opposition!”

According to a statement issued by North East Trees, Wilson was pruning a tree to take clippings to his church when he lost consciousness and fell. “I believe this was how Scott might have chosen his final act to be: in service to his community – and in a tree,” wrote executive director Mark Kenyon.

There is no word yet on what kind of tree it was. “We’ve been asking each other that all day,” said North East Trees landscape architect Kathleen McKernin. 



5 Responses to “The man who loved trees”

  1. Jessica Hall
    November 7th, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

    thank you Emily, for remembering Scott.

    It’s up to us now!

  2. John Lyons
    November 7th, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

    Beautiful. A life well lived and a legion of trees all over the city to sing his praises.

  3. Charlie
    November 8th, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

    i hope I die up in a tree… or in a river…

  4. lewis macadams
    November 8th, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

    My favorite Scott Wilson story happened years ago. I was walking upstream toward Los Feliz Blvd one afternoon when I noticed some people hanging dangerously from the Sunnynook footbridge. When I got closer I realized it was Scott and a crew from Northeast Trees leaning over side, tacking pipe underneath the bridge from one bank to another. There was only running water on the Atwater side, Scott explained to me; so to water their newly planted trees on the opposite bank, this is what had to be done. Had he asked anybody’s permission? Applied to anybody for a permit? “Hell no,” he boomed with a triumphant grin, his baseball cap slightly askew. “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission.”

  5. Jessica Hall
    November 16th, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

    A classic Scott line. One of many good ones.

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