LTWCA Newsletter - June/July 2004


Non-natives (plants, that is) Invading Los Trancos Woods

Los Trancos Woods is surrounded by wildlands and a significant variety of the wildland plants, and the plants in our community, are non-natives. The threats that non-natives pose to wildland areas and communities close to them are becoming more widely recognized. For example, non-natives can increase the danger of fire. The Oakland fire of 1991 was in great part fueled by non-native broom and eucalyptus trees. Also invasive non-natives will move into natural areas and completely change the area’s character by displacing the native vegetation. Thistles have displaced wildflowers.


Los Trancos Woods has become home to a number of very troubling non-natives, among them broom (actually 3 brooms: Scotch, Spanish and our most prevalent French), Italian thistle, star thistle, bull thistle, Bermuda buttercup, English ivy and Algerian ivy, and Vinca major.


Getting rid of non-natives may not be easy, but there are steps to take to greatly reduce your work in the future.

1. The easiest and most successful way to get rid of a non-native is to do it when there are only a few plants. If you see a new plant in your yard and you know it is a non-native, get rid of it immediately. One thistle this year becomes hundreds next year.

2. Disturbed ground inevitably fills with non-natives. Areas cleared of vegetation from using herbicides or from churning up the ground will fill with non-natives. If you must do either of those, carefully clear the area of non-natives for a couple of years until the natives become well established.

3. Be careful to not spread a non-native in an effort to get rid of it. Some examples:

     a) English Ivy grows voraciously at this time of year. Pull it now before it takes off for the summer growing season. Remember that it spreads through its root system and when you pull it up, get as much root as you can. The pulled ivy reroots easily, so dispose of it in your yard waste. Both ivy and Vinca climbing up and around trees will cause crown rot and eventually the demise of your tree.

     b) Broom is best dealt with by pulling out by the roots when the ground is soft and before the flowers have matured to seed. If there are seeds, be extremely careful of not spreading them. If each spring you pull only the blooming plants, in a few years your efforts will produce a marked reduction of broom. If the plant is too large to pull, break or cut off the upper blooming portion and peel all the bark from the stump. Peel as far down into the earth as you can. Broom that is just cut will resprout and become very difficult to pull. Daubing a few drops (remember more does not mean better) of concentrated Roundup™ on the cut or break at the bark/wood interface will also prevent a plant from resprouting.


With a little effort on everyone’s part we can not only control the non-natives but make progress on reducing their impact on our community.

Submitted by June Bilisoly


September 2002 Directory Changes

Please make the following changes in your 2002 directory:

Please add:      Christian Allen Enstam, 1108 Los Trancos Rd., 529-3461

                          Marguerite and Louie Thayer, Belmont Village, 1039 E. El Camino Real, Room 105, Sunnyvale, CA 94087, general info. (408) 720-8498

If there are any changes for the directory, please let Linda Drey-Nightingale, 851-1787, know and we will publish it in the next newsletter.


Blue Oaks Development Alert

The discussion has reemerged about the location of BMR (below market rate) lots on the Blue Oaks Development. A while ago there was a proposal to put them on the fire road which exits the Development on Los Trancos Road uphill from the main entrance (Buck Meadow Dr.). At that time this was deemed an undesirable location and the proposal was shelved. That proposal is now back on the table and is being seriously considered by the Town of Portola Valley. If you have objections or feel this proposal poses a significant traffic hazard on Los Trancos Road, you should watch for the meetings and prepare a well thought-out statement. If you have no objections to this location, then do nothing and it very likely will go through.


If anyone is interested in future meetings on this issue, you can subscribe to committee agendas at Watch for public hearings since the proposal requires a general plan amendment. Contact Linda Drey-Nightingale, 851-1787, for the written proposal and map.

Submitted by Linda Drey-Nightingale


Emergency Preparedness News

Thanks to all who participated in the Emergency Preparedness Drill on May 8. The event was a success due to the organizing group and the participants. We learned more about what works and what needs work. Special thanks and kudos go to David Smernoff, who single-handedly organized and led this drill as his cohort was committed elsewhere. In a future newsletter, we will provide additional details about the drill and what we learned for the future.

Sign up for these classes and be prepared for summer emergencies:

June 19                 First Aid                     10 a.m. to 3 p.m.                   Woodside Fire Station

July 17                  CPR                            10 a.m. to 4 p.m.                   Woodside Fire Station

To make your reservation or get more information call Gaylynne Mann at 851-1594.

Submitted by Jamie Sovereign & David Smernoff


Sewer News

The sewer group continues to work with San Mateo County.

Submitted by Julie Duncan


Neighborhood Notes

- The LTWCA Board is sponsoring a Cell Phone Recycling Drive which will take place the week of 20-26 June. There will be a sign and collection box located at the corner of Los Trancos Rd. and Ramona RD. Simply band together your cell phone and charger and drop it off. They will be turned into Wildlife Rescue for their fund raiser. Wildlife Rescue is a Palo Alto nonprofit who rehabilitates sick, injured and abandoned wildlife. They have graciously joined us at our annual picnics and given fabulous talks about and views of live wild animals. For any questions about the collection call Linda Drey-Nightingale, 851-1787.

- Marguerite and Louie Thayer are finally together at their new home. Belmont Village is a retirement community where they are well cared for. Head on down and surprise them with a visit! Marguerite would be thrilled to see you.

- Portola Valley Ranch is hosting a talk on Sudden Oak Death Syndrome (SODS) on 19 July, Saturday, at 9:30 a.m. at the Ranch House. SODS has already shown up near Windy Hill OSP.


Next Meeting - 7:00 p.m., date and place to be determined. For minutes of the last meeting , please see the LTWCA Web Site or your District Rep.


Los Trancos Woods (LTWCA) Web Site

The web site address is:                                                                         The group e-mail list is:                                                    

Our thanks to Jerry Jensen for maintaining this site AND Thank you to Alex for copying our newsletter.