Capitol Alert: Drought hits California's Capitol Park

jortiz@sacbee.comMay 9, 2014 

The lush grass that normally carpets downtown Sacramento's Capitol Park is turning into a blotchy green-and-brown rug this spring because state officials have decided not to water the lawn.

"What we're trying to do is set an example in our front yard for people to follow in their front yards," said Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the Department of General Services. The department handles grounds maintenance for the park and other state-owned properties.

Parts of the lawn will continue to grow because crews will still water nearly 1,000 trees on the grounds via a complex underground irrigation system that hydrates roots and minimizes runoff.

Many of the trees date back to the earliest days of California's statehood and carry historical significance, said Les Strike, a General Service manager who oversees maintenance of the 40-acre park.

"We can replace the grass," he said. "The trees can't be replaced,"

The drought prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to order conservation measures throughout state government, but he doesn't solely control park maintenance. The Legislature also must sign off on the policy.

Parts of the lawn will continue to grow because crews will still water nearly 1,000 trees on the grounds via a complex underground irrigation system that hydrates roots and minimizes wasteful runoff.

Many of the trees date back to the earliest days of California's statehood and carry historical significance, said Les Strike, a General Service manager who oversees maintenance of the 40-acre park.

"We can replace the grass," he said. "The trees can't be replaced,"

The drought prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to order conservation measures throughout state government earlier this year, but he doesn't solely control Capitol Park maintenance. The Legislature, which also has a say in Capitol grounds rules, must sign off on the policy.

PHOTO: Jose Reyes, with Department of General Services cleans some of the dead leaves that he said have been falling from the trees at Capitol Park due to the lack of water to irrigate trees and other plants at the Capitol on Thusrday, Feb. 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

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