Trees in the news

Abandon everything you thought you knew about the eucalyptus. Like most things in life, there are many layers to the onion and it takes a while to gain a holistic view. There's a good article on eucalyptus management in the San Luis Obispo New Times.

The Press-Enterprise talks about our native fan palm and inland tree management strategies.

some excerpts from the P-E article:

Cornett has devoted his life to the trees since he first saw them decades ago as a schoolteacher, but he believes the palms do not belong outside of their desert home. That goes double for imported exotic palms, which he says are pretty but are not the best choice for the environment.

Cornett agrees with the Los Angeles City Council, which voted in November to avoid planting new fan palms on city property on the grounds that certain plants, many of them native, would provide more shade, drainage and oxygen.
In San Bernardino, the city has banned new palm trees along windswept foothills in its fire-hazard area. The Los Angeles City Council voted to replace many of its palms with leafy native oaks and sycamores, which they say will provide more shade and oxygen.

Some extended excerpts from the New Times article:

If you believe everything you've read about eucalyptus recently, you might think you could spot a grove a mile away either by the flocks of healthy raptors circling above its canopy or the toxic groundwater flowing from its roots and the wafting stench of corpses crushed by fallen tree limbs.
Eucalyptus remained a mere garden oddity in the state until Ellwood Cooper a Santa Barbara educator noted its rapid growth in the 1870s and began stumping for proliferation as a solution to waning forests. Decades later, as industrialists eyed a hungry timber market, Cooper prote ge and State Forester George Lull predicted that the eucalyptus would soon eclipse the orange in agricultural value. So overreaching was Lull's statement that the industry never came remotely close to cashing in on the hype.
In recent years, fear of litigation has prompted several communities to prune, spot remove, and even clear eucalyptus. The paranoia climaxed with the Bay Area bedroom community of Los Altos drafting a citywide ban in 2006. The move came after falling branches killed a cyclist during a winter storm that downed power lines.

Some experts challenge one keynote argument used in the implementation of this [removal] mandate: that eucalyptus groves exhibit starkly inferior plant diversity than does surrounding habitat.

The point is irrefutable, countered Cal Poly ecologist Ritter, but the assertion is something like comparing apples to orange day lilies.

"Would you expect to find diversity in a cornfield?" Ritter asked, going on to explain that most of the euc planting in California occurred in a structured agricultural manner after the land was already purged of native vegetation.

...Concerns over potentially homeless raptors and dispossessed invertebrates also make a strong case for throttled-back restoration programs, especially considering the extremely incomplete picture of native life before European meddling.

"It would be hard to go to any euc-dominated monarch roosting area and safely do any wholesale species removal," butterfly specialist Frey said.

Ritter suggested thinning existing groves just enough to allow an understory of native scrub. This alternative model compromises State Parks' stated vision of recreating verbatim the native coastal ecosystem, but it also provides something revolutionary: options for an exit strategy.

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