Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 22, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page A:5



Mountain Views-News Saturday, June 22, 2013 

GARY KNOWLTON: Man of the Trees

[Nyerges is the author of “Enter the Forest,” “Self-Sufficient Home,” and other 
books. He teaches regular self-reliance classes and does a weekly podcast on 
Preparedness Radio Network. He can be reached at School of Self-Reliance, 
Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or]

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt


 Everyone in Duarte and Bradbury knows what a fine library they have. 
All the years I taught at Annunciation I used not only my great Live Oak 
Library, but also the Duarte Library for materials to supplement the classroom 
curriculum. It was great to read selections from Phantom Tollbooth and 
Watership Down; then see the movie, which was borrowed from the library as 
a special treat! 

 For fulfilling the persuasive genre of writing, I showed my Language Arts 
classes, a short video-Caesar Chavez’ No Grapes. They had to be reporters and 
their assignment was to convince their readers to boycott grapes!

marches on 
and great 
happen. Now 
everyone MUST 
have a computer/I 
pad/tablet. I 
know grades 4 
and up had to 
type reports, and 
last I heard- 7th 
graders had to 
do power point 
A few families 
actually do NOT 
have computers 
in their homes, so 
the public library 
is their life saver!

 This is one 
of the ways the Duarte Library and its wonderful Friends come to the rescue. Their mission for 2013 
is to purchase more computers and/or pads for the library. This coming week please support the 
Friends of the Duarte Library and Ranchero Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, 1501 Huntington 
Drive, Duarte, Sunday, June 23- Saturday, June 29th for Lunch and Dinner. Just mention Friends 
of the Duarte Library or FDL to your waiter and part of the proceeds will be donated to the Friends.

The Friends of the Duarte Library mission is to promote community support for the library by 
providing funds to supplement the purchase of books. Each year over $6000 of new books and 
publications are purchased! The Friends also provide free books to children at Duarte community 
events. The Friends donate funding for the Summer Reading Programs for children and teens. And 
there are also some great adult summer reading programs. First there’s the great Adult Summer 
Reading Program. Not only do you win a reward and a choice of free book for completing your first 
review, but a choice of free book for every review submitted! Earn a chance to win other incentives in 
a drawing that will take place August 20, 2013. And adults, it is going to be a “delicious” summer. On 
Saturday June 22, 2013, 2:00-3:00pm Bo Law teaches how to make his delicious Pineapple Bun. 
Saturday, June 29, 2013, 2-3pm, Mexican cooking with Chef Marco Zapien.

How does Duarte Library provide these great classes/programs and their unmatchable Fall Festival 
of Authors? How many other libraries can boast that they brought the late great Ray Bradbury to 
town in addition to showcasing dozens of authors and book signings?

I am eternally grateful to the Duarte Library for bringing a group of exceptional artists from Ranchos 
Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center to display their art and demonstrate their techniques. My late 
mom marveled at Kenneth Younger’s marbling technique, and these past twenty years, I’ve kept 
contact with a few of the artists. 

Lastly, I would be remiss not mentioning the Friends award a scholarship each year to a graduating 
student from Duarte High School and Mount Olive High School. 

Please consider being a member of the Friends of the Duarte Library or contributing to some of their 
many great projects. Visit 

 Gary Knowlton 
is standing next to 
a young redwood 
tree on his hillside 
property. He says, 
“Treat everything as 
if it were sacred, and 
lo and behold, you’ll 
find that it is. We need to completely re-evaluate 
the way we interact with nature.” He looks at the 
redwood tree and adds, “If trees are treated in a non-
sacred way, it offends and disrespects our very source 
of the breath of life. We should never vandalize 
and mutilate trees due to some perceived hazard, or 
because of our perceptions of order and neatness. 
The new paradigm that we need is a deeper respect 
for the tree. If we respect the trees and treat them 
properly, they will give us their bounty of oxygen, 
and fruit, and leaf. But if we ignore their health and 
safety, it is always counterproductive.”

 Knowlton is not an evangelist nor a shaman. He’s 
a La Crescenta man who’s been concerned about the 
proper care of trees his entire life. By profession, he 
does restorative work on valuable old native trees, such 
as oaks and sycamores, and is considered to be one of 
the best among fellow arborists. 

 He’s concerned that most of us underrate the tree, 
regarding it as a commodity, or worse, as a nuisance. 
But Knowlton sees it differently. Trees are valuable 
because their root systems hold the soil together, they 
create windbreaks, they produce massive amounts 
of oxygen, and they give us fruit, leaf, and wood for 
countless purposes. Trees provide homes for myriad 
forms of wildlife, making them an integral part of what 
Knowlton calls “the circle of nature.” When the circle is 
broken, he points out, nature sometimes rebels.

 As part of his work, he regularly prunes trees, seeking 
to discover the tree’s natural shape and needs before 
making any cuts. “We often have to convince our 
customers to allow us to do what is best for the tree,” 
he says. “Often a homeowner will want a tree pruned in 
a way that is not beneficial to the tree. The homeowner 
may be concerned about neatness, order, lines, and 
appearances, but not about the needs of the tree. If we 
did what some customers asked, it would damage the 
tree and set into motion a series of unwanted responses, 
such as branches falling, or even the tree falling over. 
But a healthy tree, properly pruned to its natural shape, 
is actually very reliable and will be better able to survive 
high winds, heavy rains, frost, and drought.”

 Knowlton explains that the tree fits into the intricate 
cycle of nature, and that most of the actions of typical 
“gardeners” are in ignorance of the ecology of the tree.

 Knowlton prefers minimum interference, accepting 
the fact that nature knows what is best. “I prefer 
the benign neglect management style. No rake, no 
weedwacker, no blower. It is better to feed the fallen 
leaves back to the tree than to rake it up and throw the 
leaves away. Afer all, the leaves are the tree’s food. If 
you all allow all the leaves to remain around the base 
of the tree, they create a thermal barrier, and moisture 
stabilizer and they gradually decompose and feed the 
tree. This is what happens in the forest.”

 He regards the use of blowers to “clean up” yards 
as almost entirely unnecessary since it completely 
ignores the cycle of nature for the questionable goal of 
order lines and cleanliness. “Those guys with blowers 
are strip-mining the soil. They are hauling away the 
productivity of the tree and merely discarding it as if 
those leaves were trash. The influence of leaf blowers 
on the quality of life is so great with noise and dust and 
the unnecessary remove of leaves that it isn’t worth 
having them. Leaf is not litter. It is the life of the soil. 
When you simply throw that away, you are taking away 
nutrients that should be allowed to feed the tree.”

 “Too many people assume that gardeners know about 
trees,” says Knowlton. “Some do, but most do not. Your 
yard can receive a tremendous amount of damage and 
even dollar depreciation from such individuals. The 
trees’ value is based on species, location, health, and 

 Knowlton explains that the number one cause of 
death of urban trees is root damage, caused by a 
number of ways. For example, painters will clean their 
brushes and pans and dump the water near the base of a 
tree. Sometimes trenches are dug for water or gas lines 
and these damage the roots. Another big culprit in the 
death of trees is the weedwacker. “Many gardeners trim 
unwanted plants from around the base of trees, and 
typically cut the tender trucks of the trees. This is one 
of the easiest ways 
of killing trees. I’ve seen it happen frequently,” he says 
with dismay.

 “The leaf blower and weed-wacker are two gas tools 
that we can do without,” says Knowlton.

 “I try to integrate everything I do with the idea that 
every thought and action has an outcome. We need to 
take responsibility for what we set into motion. That 
is the way to know whether or not to take an action,” 
shares Knowlton. “What is the outcome if I plant this 
tree? What is the outcome if I cut down this tree? Am I 
looking forward seven generations to the consequences 
of my actions? This is all part of being aware of the 
circle of life, and being able to act with a sacred mood. 
We cultivate this sacred mood not simply by thinking 
about it, but by the way we take action,” he says. By 
now, he’s sounding more and more like an evangelist 
or a shaman.

 Knowlton chooses to be a living part of the solution. 
He doesn’t regard any tree prunings or chips as “trash.” 
He uses it all.

 On his backyard hillside with its 60 degree angle, 
he created a pathway entirely from mulch from his 
tree work. “There was no hardscape, no bricks, no 
foundation,” explains Knowlton, pointing to the 
hillside covered in fine wood chips. “And there was no 
erosion. This is how we put the mulch to work. The 
mulch not only completely absorbs the water from the 
heaviest rains, but it becomes food for earthworms as it 

 Knowlton wants everyone to see themselves as part 
of the intricate web of life.

 “We should not break the circle of life,” he says. “We 
need to learn to see the circle of nature. We can interact 
with nature in a productive way, but we should not do 
so in an interfering way.”

 He points out that he has used many truckloads of 
mulch to create his hillside pathway, and that there 
is also less of a fire hazard because of the mulch. In 
general, Knowlton advocates at least 3 to 4 inches of 
mulch for hillsides.

 Besides chipping up wood for mulch, Knowlton 
tries to utilize as much of the prunings as possible. He 
saves hollow log sections for drums, and he has a pile of 
straight branches which he uses for fence staves.

 Knowlton, who has some Iroquois ancestry, also has 
a small sweat lodge in his yard which he and his wife 
Angie occasionally use. The sweat lodge is a dome-
shaped structure made from thin branches. They first 
cover it with tarps and then bring in hot rocks. When 
you enter the sweat lodge, it is dark, hot, and said to be 
very therapeutic.

 “The sweat synthesizes the ancient worship and 
healing practices that have existed globally in the past,” 
says Knowlton. “Going into the sweat lodge is like a 
return to the dark womb, or a rebirthing of awareness of 
higher consciousness. We seek and find our spirituality 
through myriad paths. The sweat lodge is one such 

 Knowlton and his wife experiment with solar devices 
and other technologies as ways to “live lightly on the 
earth.” They also use a wood stove which is fueled with 
tree prunings, and then the ashes are returned back into 
their soil.

 Knowlton pauses and looks at his redwood tree 
where we began. He takes a deep breath. He puts his 
hand on the tree. “The tree is a great transducer of 
energy, of prana,” he declares. “Our salvation lies in our 
recognizing the value of trees, and not ruthlessly killing 
them,” he tells me.

 You can learn more about Knowlton by going to


 The Southern California Mormon Choir is proud to be 
hosting their 28th annual Patriotic Concert, Saturday, June 29th 
at 7pm. The evening will include American folk music classics 
and American spirituals as well as featured remarks by Supervisor 
Mike Antonovich.

 “This concert has always been a unique treat for me to 
attend each year. I really feel a patriotic spirit from the music and 
a sense of camaraderie in my community”, said Cynthia Clary, a 
resident of Arcadia and annual concert attendee.

 The Southern California Mormon Choir is a 100-voice 
choral ensemble organized under the auspices of the Church of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since its formation in 1953, 
the choir has been performing concerts of classical, sacred, folk, 
patriotic and popular choral music throughout the Southern 
California area.

 Supervisor Antonovich has served the County of Los 
Angeles for over 30 years. He is well known in the San Gabriel 
community for his commitment to public safety, effective and 
responsible representation and support for small business, foster 
children, seniors and veterans. The Supervisor also serves on 
the Board of Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metrolink 
(Southern California Rail Authority), Southern California 
Association of Governments, San Fernando Valley Council of 

 The concert will be held at the Church at 614 West 
Foothill Boulevard. (Cross street, Baldwin Avenue.) Admission 
and parking are free; the convert is open to the public. 

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