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Rio Vista development plan puts 13,000 year old Jurupa Oak tree in danger, conservationists say

Friends of the Jurupa Oak

California’s oldest living tree is at least 13,000 years old and is nestled in the Jurupa Valley hills. But conservationists and native tribes say a proposed 900-acre development could put the tree in danger.

Dr. Tim Krantz, a retired environmental professor and land use expert, says the Jurupa Oak tree has stood over the valley since ground sloths and mastodons roamed the earth.

Krantz says the Oak shouldn’t be considered your run-of-the-mill tree.

"This is an oak tree that's 90 feet wide… with the roots that penetrate deeply down into these rocks, more than 100 feet down to groundwater," he said in a phone interview.

The plan’s developer Richland Communities wants to build a new school, hundreds of homes and industrial space 250 feet away from the tree. They’ve also tentatively agreed to hand over the Oak tree’s conservation duties to the Kizh Nation - Band of Gabrielino Indians.

Krantz says building so much concrete near the roots of the tree and its bedrock could kill the Jurupa Oak. He says this will create an urban heat island effect that will make everything around the tree up to three times hotter.

"If you took a thermometer out there today…I guarantee you, it's gonna read more than 150 degrees, maybe 160," he said. "You could crack an egg and fry it on that. You times 2.7 million square feet of that. And that's going to literally cook everything around it."

Planning commissioners decided last month to continue the public hearing until Wednesday (July 10). They’re expected to postpone their decision on the project until July 24th.

Richland Communities and the City of Jurupa Valley did not respond to requests for comment in time for air.