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EUCALYPTUS under Fire
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

 

Crest Canyon cleanup in March, 2009. Photos Carol Kerridge.
Click to enlarge.
 
 

 

One of our readers sent information about Berkeley’s plans, using Federal grant funds, to cut down 20,000 nonnative Eucalyptus trees in nearby open space canyons in order to reduce fire hazard. She wondered if Del Mar shouldn’t consider something similar given the number of Eucalyptus trees in our community.

We got in touch with Del Mar’s Fire Marshall Robert Scott who oversees the City’s annual brush inspection program to identify and help residents reduce fire hazards on their property, and relayed her concern. He explained that about 350 Del Mar homes are in a Wild land Urban Interface (WUI) Zone near Crest Canyon and are subject to brush abatement requirements to, for example, keep their properties cleared of dead tree liter and to trim branches away from structures and overhead electrical wires. The inspection began in April and ends this month.
Scott agreed that Eucalyptus, but also Torrey Pines, Monterey Pines and even Palm tree “skirts,” were fire hazards especially if they are not properly maintained. He said he was familiar with the Berkeley Hills and identified them as steep, dense forests of Eucalyptus not subject to any maintenance. In contrast, Del Mar’s Eucalyptus trees do not constitute a deep forest and are generally well maintained. Scott said that the Department also monitors Eucalyptus growth at the edge of Crest Canyon and assesses whether trimming or thinning on that open space is justified. The City of San Diego is responsible for brush management in the Canyon.

In its Notice to all homes in the WUI the City emphasizes that it depends on residents’ participation in fire prevention by taking action to remove hazardous vegetation from their property. If residents have questions or would like to set up a site visit, contact the city’s Brush Abatement phone line at (858) 704-3662. A flyer describing “defensible space” around your home can be found on-line at www.delmarsandpiper.org. This year the City, in a cost efficiency move, is using one of its own Captains with years of experience in Del Mar to conduct the inspections and inform residences of potential fire hazards, rather than hiring an outside contractor.

 

 

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