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Tree Time
Dolores Davies Jamison | Crest Road

Over the last three years, U.S. Forest Service officials estimate that more then 100 million trees in California’s forests and wilderness areas have been lost to bark beetles, extreme heat and drought, and the state’s devastating wildfires. But, there is no need to visit the Sierra or Yosemite to witness this loss—trees are struggling right in our backyard. Bark beetles, drought, and extreme temperatures have killed hundreds of pine trees in the Torrey Pines Natural Reserve, and other pines such as Monterey, Aleppo, and Canary Island trees have been visibly lost in Point Loma and other parts of San Diego. Even our native oaks—the most resilient of trees—have succumbed to the gold spotted oak borer, which has ravaged our back country and killed more then 80,000 oaks in Southern California.
Like many other communities, Del Mar has witnessed a clearly visible decrease in its urban tree canopy in the last decade. While Torrey Pines both in Crest Canyon and in the community have also been lost, numerous other unprotected trees have also been felled. This loss has likely resulted from a confluence of factors. However, additional analysis may need to be completed by the City in order to identify these factors and formulate an effective strategy for tree preservation and enhancement, which will be essential in keeping our town cool and livable as the climate warms.

Del Mar residents will play a pivotal role in preserving the community’s urban forest, first and foremost by taking proper care of their own trees. If you have a Torrey Pine on your property, your tree may benefit from having its crown laced out every few years during the winter months. This keeps large trees from getting top heavy, and it also helps in removing deadwood. Overwatering is also a concern—especially with Torrey Pines—and can lead to root rot and unstable root systems. When this happens, trees and tree branches can topple during harsh winds and storms, endangering nearby structures and people. Topping or hat-racking is also detrimental to tree health, as is the removal of side branches which render a tree lopsided and unstable. Arborists also discourage pruning more than 25% of a tree’s canopy at any given time, as this can be highly stressful and destabilizing.

If you have questions about tree care, please consult Del Mar’s Tree Policy Manual at:




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