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Garden redesign a win

A redesigned Japanese garden in Lithia Park apparently will be a reality after all, thanks to the gracious actions of donor Jeff Mangin, who endured undeserved attacks from members of the community who objected to removing two Douglas fir trees to accommodate the new design.

Ashland has a history of vocal protests against cutting down any tree anywhere for any reason. Sometimes the protesters win, sometimes they lose.

A cottonwood tree was saved last year at the expense of some affordable housing units on Clay Street after residents objected to removing it.

An 88-year-old ginkgo tree was cut down in 2001 to make way for the expansion of the Ashland library, despite the efforts of many residents to move it — an expensive and potentially unsuccessful undertaking. Some wood from the tree was incorporated into the new library.

Wood from the two Douglas firs could have been incorporated into the new Japanese garden design as benches or a tea house, but instead the trees will remain in place.

The garden’s designer, Toru Tanaka, had proposed cutting two of 12 Douglas firs to make room for a bamboo garden.

The Parks and Recreation Commission voted 3-2 in January to proceed with the original plan and remove the trees, but Mangin suspend the project rather than move ahead in the face of public opposition. Now, he and Tanaka have agreed to a revised design that will preserve the trees.

Thanks to Mangin and his late wife’s family for their generous donation. Future generations will benefit.

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