It was in the 1940s, at the end of World War II, when U.S. Navy pilot Jim Gardiner returned to the fertile San Joaquin Valley and began carving a working farm out of sagebrush and virgin land northwest of Bakersfield.
At the gate to the property were more than 250 palm trees, which were planted in double rows in the shape of a cross. The trees now known as the palm cross are believed to have been there since the 1880s.
“They are majestic, but PG&E is killing them one at a time,” said Jim Gardiner’s son Keith Gardiner. 13 trees have been felled on the property in the past six months, confirmed Katie Allen, a PG&E spokeswoman.
Stephen Montgomery, vice chairman of the City of Bakersfield Historic Preservation Commission, said the palm stand deserves protection for its historical value.
A state official says the trees are on the California Register of Historic Places “and are considered historic property for review under the California Environmental Quality Act.”
PG&E claimed that “this work did not require regulatory approval and therefore CEQA would not apply”.
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