The man who loved trees

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

The Dry Garden: North East Trees

Unless you are active in the field of urban greening, you probably haven’t heard of North East Trees. Unlike the better known TreePeople, North East Trees has not seen its founder land on “The Tonight Show.” Rather, the nonprofit that Scott Wilson started in 1989 by planting 700 oaks at Occidental College in Los Angeles’ community of Eagle Rock has quietly been planting many more trees (50,000 at last count), working with low-income communities to create parks, and partnering with city and county agencies on water-harvesting projects. North East Trees has been at the cutting edge of L.A.’s ecological makeover.

Click here to keep reading about North East Trees in this week’s Dry Garden column in the Los Angeles Times.