Kirk Leopard is the director out at the Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery. I had called him to see what was happening to the trees out there, as we had heard that some people were upset with what they were seeing – or not seeing – amongst the rows of white gravestones. There were complaints of trees gone, cut down, badly mangled, etc.
But Kirk is very much into talking about what they’ve done and what has occurred under his jurisdiction. He assured me that the only trees being cut or trimmed were diseased or damaged. Earlier this year in January and February, two big storms produced 80 a mile winds and they lost 67 trees to … nature.
They still have several hundred trees in the cemetery, Kirk told me. And they’ve only cut down a dozen or so already due to damage or disease. He described how they had this huge ficus, but it split down the middle, and it had to be dealt with.
Kirk said an arborist comes out and makes an evaluation before anything is cut.
They are planting new trees, he said, but only local, native species. I replied that when the Indians lived on the Peninsula there were hardly any trees, so he must be replacing the old ones with little scrub brush. He responded by saying maybe he shouldn’t have said “native” species.
There is a refurbishment project going on at the southern end of the cemetery and that’s where they’re putting in the new trees.
Kirk said he was raised locally and is into preserving as many trees as possible. He’s been director for three years, so he has definitely been on the job long enough to know those major winds don’t come every year.
Kirk Leopard invites people to contact him so he can personally explain what is going on. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org and can also be reached at 619-553-2084.