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If a Tree Falls

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
April 9, 1998


Recently I have been following the trials and tribulations of the Del Martians who are wrestling with the concept of gravity, in particular, the on going battle of trees versus view. One faction says that the trees will fall down in a storm, and that should be reason enough to remove them. Another faction is more interested in keeping their view of the Pacific Ocean clutter free. A third group just like trees. The question is, "Where does Bob stand on the issue."

First of all I think we should address the most obvious of considerations, are the trees indigenous. If the tree is a native to the area, such as a Torrey Pine or Sycamore, the tree should be allowed to stand. If the tree is a non-native like the weed commonly known as Eucalyptus, then yes, rip that puppy from the ground faster than your neighbor can say "Fairdinkum Holiday" The part about non-natives falling are well documented. I remember when a little girl was killed at the San Diego Zoo when a huge eucalyptus branch crushed her while she sat next to her parents. If I had my way everyone of these Australian giants would be removed.

The second consideration is, who was there first. This goes for both human neighbors and the trees. If Mr. and Mrs. John Q Public buy a house next to a piece of property that is home to well developed trees, then I would say the trees, like their human neighbors, were in residence prior to their arrival and therefore take precedence over the newcomers. Now if someone new to the neighborhood wants to plant large trees, that should be acceptable only if they are native species. And as far as I am concerned Torrey Pines add to the view, not detract from it.

Now some folks are whining about how a blocked view decreases their property value. To that I say, "tough." It is high time we as a culture reevaluated  what we consider valuable. I find it very ironic that the people complaining about their view being encroached on, have no problem living stacked on top of each other like Legos. It seems these folks have completely given up the idea of terrestrial open space, now they fight to preserve an open view. Is this tragic or what?

The truth, remember that, that is completely being overlooked is the inescapable fact that we live in a desert. Only certain species have evolved to thrive in this usually dry soil, these same trees are also capable of surviving winter storms. It is the introduced species that constantly pose a threat to life and property. Let's face it boys and girls we have too many trees that must be supported by imported water. In our misguided attempts to landscape our artificial environments we erase native species to make room for what we consider esthetically pleasing.

I do realize my words will not motivate people to remove the non-natives from their yards. Currently environmentalists and local governments are trying to find ways to protect native flora and fauna, when the easiest way to accomplish this important task would be to revegetate every single yard with local species. That means all others must be phased out. And yes, this includes lawns. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I despise those water-sucking carpets of false Americana. Please excuse that last outburst, I have a tendency to channel Edward Abbey.

Of course I'm aware that commercial nurseries will go ballistic over such a proposal. Landscapers addicted to tropicals, will more than likely wet themselves at the treat of losing these outlets of their creative expression. And city planners will not know how to proceed without the displaced jacaranda. But to that I say, "poor babies." It is time we started to think and live in sustainable ways, and planting irrigation dependent species is not wise or sustainable.

Now before anyone accuses me of picking on the people of Del Mar, keep in mind this is going on all over coastal North County. Now long ago a resident was cited for cutting down a tree because the birds nesting in it were dropping presents on his property, Seven young egrets were killed in the incident. In Encinitas then councilperson Gail Hano tried to save three eucalyptus trees, while habitat was being bulldozed to make room for a Home Depot she voted for.

Listen folks, we live in a desert, like it or not, and sooner or later we will return to that state. The question is do we do by intelligent choice or foolish choices. Currently the fools are at the plate. But need I remind everybody that nature bats last. Obviously I do.

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