400 Trees Will be Cut Down to Move Space Shuttle Endeavour

endeavour© NASA

We often get to write about the ways that technology is helping to protect nature, but occasionally those two things are at odds. When the space shuttle Endeavour makes its way to its final home at the California Science Center from Los Angeles International Airport, the move will be a huge celebratory event, including a big parade. But in order for the shuttle to make its way through city streets on October 12, obstacles will have to be removed, including 400 trees.

Residents of the neighborhoods along the path haven't been very happy with that news. Many of the trees are large magnolias, firs and pines that have been there for decades. The California Science Center has promised to replant twice as many trees along the route, but that has been little comfort for the area's residents.

"They are cutting down these really big, majestic trees," said Lark Galloway-Gilliam, a longtime Leimert Park resident and neighborhood council director to the LA Times. "It will be beyond my lifetime before they will be tall like this again."

Below you can view a tree-lined stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard, one of the streets the Endeavour will be traveling and where trees will likely have to be cut down or pruned to make room.

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Alternative, non-tree-hacking options were considered, but would jeopardize the shuttle that went on 25 missions spanning nearly two decades, circled the Earth more than 4,600 times and spent 299 days in space. Taking it apart to move it would permanently damage parts of the shuttle, airlifting something that heavy (170,000 pounds) would have been impossible and the shuttle couldn't fit under overpasses on the freeway. So, a route of wide streets free of major obstacles like bridges and buildings was chosen.

The LA Times reports, "To make way for the shuttle, some trees will be pruned, power lines will be raised and traffic signals will be removed. Inglewood will lose 128 trees, and communities in South Los Angeles about 265 trees, though the exact number has not yet been determined. Meanwhile, officials have been working to allay fears by sharing replantation plans, seeking community input at neighborhood council meetings and finding compromises where they can."

An initial route was scrapped because it would see the removal of trees that were planted in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The replanting will start just a few weeks after the shuttle arrives the science center.

400 Trees Will be Cut Down to Move Space Shuttle Endeavour
Residents of the LA neighborhoods affected by the Endeavour's route have protested the removal.

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