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December 16, 2013

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Ian, who's we? Is this another golf course learning experience for you?

I can't hope to improve on Carl's eloquent response to Todd, but I would like to add a few thoughts. First, the idea that once a species is "second generation" and self-reproducing it is granted native status is actually the direct opposite of reality. The reason that invasive species are invasive is that they are capable of reproducing on their own, spectacularly so without the natural controls that co-evolve with them over centuries in their native habitat. In Australia, eucalyptus trees don't behave as they do here. They are kept in check by diseases, pests, and competing species. When set loose here without those limits, they have an unfair advantage over all the native species. In addition, the native species that they crowd out are a part of an interdependent web of life that may as well have been paved over. It's bad enough that we humans have replaced much of nature with our homes, cities, roads, and farms. Do we really have to replace nature itself with inappropriate species from other continents just because we can?

Eucalyptus trees are toxic to wood warblers, the migrant singing birds that fill North America's woods every year with their beauty and song. A few of the many warblers that are seen here on the coast:

Wilson's Warbler:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/wilsons_warbler/id

Townsend's Warbler:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Townsends_warbler/id

Audubon's (or Yellow Rumped) Warbler:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/yellow-rumped_warbler/id

Lucy's Warbler:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lucys_Warbler/id

What happens is that the gum (sap) of the tree fills the nares (holes on the bill) and clogs the bill -- and the bird suffocates or starves.

Birds are dying all over California due to the "widowmaker" tree, and we don't notice it because bird carcasses do not last long in the wild.

"Eucalyptus as an invasive species" discussion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus#Eucalyptus_as_an_invasive_species

More discussion on birds and eucalyptus in California:
http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/incite/incite0201.html

Endurance and ongoing spread of invasive, destructive, non-native organisms does not make them natural. In Burlingame, the eucs are part of the urban wipeout of the bayside, not an amelioration of the parasitic overdevelopment. In the Bay Area, they are primarily a legacy of self-gratifying rich and powerful people like Sutro, Easton, and the other early barons of San Francisco and the Peninsula. Trying to justify them as natural is to ignore the science of ecology, the teachings of biogeography, the values of biodiversity, and the worldwide damage done by alien introductions to natural, evolved associations of organisms that are the providers of ecosystem services and biological resources for humanity. Todd, you are a dedicated voice with the desire and mental energy to follow the political games and foibles of local government and to point out common-sense alternatives to ill-conceived and financially wasteful approaches projects and budgets. But when it comes to recognizing the assault, near and far-reaching, on natural conditions and systems--on which we all ultimately depend for life, itself--you and other defenders of forms of environmental destruction (because they appeal to some artificial whim) are naive. In the case of human-introduced alien organisms, no less a personage than E.O. Wilson calls the resulting loss of biodiversity second only to direct physical destruction of nature among global environmental problems.

Bully for Burlingame for having the gumption to stand up to the Caltrans juggernaut. But their eucs still suck.

Bobby, what you call my "misguided crusade" is simply asking you to back up your statements. Your refusal to "help" means you are unable to do that. So I'll just ask you to stop making stuff up.

Sorry, Peter, I'm not helping in your misguided crusade.

"I'm really glad our council is coming out in public to support this now."

Actually, they're coming out of the back room now, after a good policy discussion the public's not privy to.

Bobby Hutchinson, will you answer my question? Perhaps you didn't see it so I'll post it again.

Please tell us what you've heard or read from City Council members that says they are "coming out in public to support this now." All I've seen is (now former) Mayor Stone's announcement that the city won't be doing anything about the widening until the Caltrans CEQA lawsuit is resolved. That could be a long time from now.

Perhaps you're referring to (incoming) Mayor Nihart's comment, as quoted in the Pacifica Tribune: “She hopes to engage Caltrans to help turn Highway 1 into a corridor that reflects Pacifica in a unique way.” I'm not sure what that means, but it doesn't sound like support for the widening project as proposed by Caltrans.

All due respect, Ian, but you are not from NorCal. The eucalyptus trees around the SF Bay area have been here for more than one generation, so technically they are locals now. You have determined that these multigenerational local organisms are nonnative invasive species because of an ideology, an opinion fostered by others, which is not a majority opinion.

It could be argued that homo sapiens is the ultimate invasive species. We are everywhere and very successful as a species.

I love it when you guys go at each other. BTW, more than $1M Measure A money just spent on Devil's Slide hiking path.

How many environmentalists does it take to change a lightbulb?

"Ten. One to write the lightbulb a letter requesting that it change. Four to circulate online petitions. One to file a lawsuit demanding it change. One to send the lightbulb lovingkindness (tm), knowing that this is the only way real change occurs. One to accept the lightbulb precisely the way it is, clear in the knowledge that to not accept another is to do great harm to oneself. One to write a book about how and why the lightbulb needs to change. And finally one to smash the fucking lightbulb, because we all know it's never going to change." (Derrick Jensen)

I recently was asked to assess the trees in a yard in Pacifica. It was filled with mature eucalyptus, which stained their cars and decks, blocked out all the light, and covered everything with leaves that contain a chemical that keeps anything else from growing. During windy days, they were afraid to go outside. They will probably have to spend $20,000 just to make things reasonably safe.

During our walk through, I saw the neighboring yard, filled with a similar amount of mature live oak. They probably spend less than $1,000 every couple of years to maintain their trees, which make little mess, let the light through, and provide food and shelter for myriad animals.

Whether you find eucalyptus esthetically pleasing is beside the point. They are destroying native habitat, wiping out native species, creating extreme fire hazards, and the cost of controlling them will easily be in the billions.

The worst thing about invasive species is that, unlike other human-caused environmental problems, even if the human race disappeared tomorrow, they would continue destroying plant communities until the end of all life on earth.

"Next up, let me see your praise for pampas grass and out-of-place Monterey pines and cypresses."

No, I won't be praising pampas grass, or "saw grass" as we knew it as kids. It doesn't smell good, and it cuts you.

Carl, you are way out of line.

My, my, just look at all the California nature-hating urban boys trying to defend one of the worst introduced habitat-destroying, biodiversity-reducing alien organisms in a state hugely damaged by such imports. If you love the eucs in Pacifica, you must hate the oak woodlands on the ridges, the rich, fragrant northern coastal scrub, and the coastal strand vegetation they have replaced in numerous places. Next up, let me see your praise for pampas grass and out-of-place Monterey pines and cypresses.

I am quite hypocritical on the subject of Eucalyptus trees. I really like them on other people's property as long as I don't have to park under them or take any responsibility for them. And yes, that really is the only beautiful section of El Camino.

I agree. I am a eucalyptus tree hugger from way back. I love the way they sound when the wind blows. I love the way they smell. Yes, they do grow like weeds. More power to 'em. I know they are not natives; they were transplanted here from Australia. Too bad they didn't come along with koala bears. And yes, I know they have a bad reputation as widowmakers, for shedding big branches that have killed many in Oz. My mother also loves eucalyptus trees, because they grew all around her boarding school in India and she has never forgotten their sounds and scents. The eucalyptus trees lining El Camino Real are so much better than the alternative. If you haven't seen them, you owe it to yourself to take a drive through Burlingame and Hillsborough on the "royal road."

DUDE, those Euc trees are the only part of El Camino that I enjoy. The rest is so low rent butt ugly. I'm from SF, born and raised, and as far as I'm concerned, the Euc trees are local. If those trees fall, it will be the end of the most pleasant part of El Camino.

Ah gad, more Euc haters. I used to cringe when former Tribune columnist Paul Azevedo called them "weeds." I love their odor and appearance. I miss them on the way to Sonoma, where roadside stands lined the highway and shaded it.

You got it, Tim. One reason I can't get all Burlingamy over this story is that I grew up in that city, had to walk or bike to grammar school on a street with huge eucs on either side, and always hated those stinking, trashy, alien cellulose towers.

"Heritage Eucalyptus Trees" -- isn't that an oxymoron?

Please tell us what you've heard or read from City Council members that says they are "coming out in public to support this now." All I've seen is (now former) Mayor Stone's announcement that the city won't be doing anything about the widening until the Caltrans CEQA lawsuit is resolved. That could be a long time from now.

Perhaps you're referring to (incoming) Mayor Nihart's comment, as quoted in the Pacifica Tribune: “She hopes to engage Caltrans to help turn Highway 1 into a corridor that reflects Pacifica in a unique way.” I'm not sure what that means, but it doesn't sound like support for the widening project as proposed by Caltrans.

"Oh yeah, lives if we widen."

Weight gain ain't a good thing, Bobby.

Neither lawsuit is frivolous, as the public is not being consulted on this project. People who live in Pacifica have so far had no say in this, as the City of Pacifica refused to have public hearings during the EIR process.

The Pacifica business community can ill afford the huge losses this frivolous Calera Parkway Project promises. Most people don't want to see the loss of business, bottlenecks, noise and air quality loss, lower quality of life, and resulting loss in housing values that the widening of Highway 1 promises. Who wants to live in "Daly City by the Sea"? Certainly not the well-paid professionals on the other side of the hill?

Cutting down some trees on El Camino Real does not really compare with widening Highway 1. What are we saving here? Oh yeah, lives if we widen. I'm really glad our council is coming out in public to support this now. Most people are for widening. One frivolous lawsuit down, one to go.

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