LTWCA Newsletter - June/July 2008
Invasions Are Not Just From Outer Space
Introducing nonnative plants and animals to a region's ecosystem is an enormous and increasing problem in the United States - and worldwide. These “invasive species” displace native species, both plants and animals, most importantly insects, and frequently they dramatically alter natural processes. The National Invasive Species Council estimates that these unwelcome visitors cost our country $100 billion a year through the havoc they wreak on forests, grasslands, waterways, farms, parks and human health. Some of the most infamous invasive plants - kudzu, yellow star thistle, purple loosestrife, tamarisk, eucalyptus, and Eurasian milfoil - transform entire ecosystems, leading to the loss of native plants and animals. Next to habitat fragmentation and destruction caused by human sprawl, the invasive species invasion is the largest global threat to biodiversity.
Eucalyptus trees, often very attractive, are one of California's most invasive plants. They were introduced to the state in the 1850s as a fast growing source of timber, fuel and shade - 100 of the world's 600 eucalyptus species now grow here and none are native.
The Los Trancos County Water District is committed to controlling Eucalyptus trees on District-owned property. The District has removed 4 larger trees. Over the next year the extensive and expanding clump of smaller trees along Lake Road will also be removed. While we recognize that many people appreciate these trees, there are a number of compelling reasons for preventing the spread of Eucalyptus trees.
The ecological case against eucalyptus trees in California is overwhelming.
1) Compared to native trees, eucalyptus provides little support for wildlife. California oaks support at least 100 times more insects, a primary food source of songbirds. Few native animals and birds find food or shelter in eucalyptus trees.
2) Eucalyptus trees are extremely flammable. Called “gasoline trees” by firefighters, the combination of their combustible oil, copious litter and long strands of hanging bark make them into giant torches during a fire. The devastating blaze of 1991 in the Oakland hills was fueled by thousands of eucalyptus trees. In 1985, a eucalyptus-fueled fire flashed through portions of Arastradero Preserve destroying large segments of the riparian canopy, which still have not recovered.
3) Chemicals in eucalyptus create toxic conditions in the soil and this plus their biomass of bark and leaves make it difficult for native plants to grow under their canopy.
4) The extensive root systems of eucalyptus trees soak up large volumes of ground water, reducing the amount available to native plants and trees. Large stands have been known to dry up all-year streams, threatening local aquatic life.
5) Eucalyptus trees are hummingbird killers. Their sweet-scented flowers attract hummingbirds and others, such as the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, that on occasion are smothered by a tar-like pitch as they attempt to drink the nectar.
In short, eucalyptus trees, especially in groves, are water-hogging, toxic and fire-prone “zones of ecological emptiness.” For all of these reasons, it is imperative that we control the spread of the current Eucalyptus grove on District property.
Please direct any questions or concerns to David, 851-9202 or DavidS@Acterra.org
Submitted by David Smernoff, Los Trancos County Water Board
Emergency Preparedness News
Fire Season is NOW! In case of an evacuation, do you know what you will grab to take with you?
How about making up a list right now and keeping it posted on your refrigerator or near your phone. Some suggested items might be: wallet, cell phone, medications, walkie-talkies, work gloves, photos or items of significant personal value, computer, drinking water, change of clothes, and so on. Put your list in order of importance in case you only have time to grab the first five items.
Be proactive to make your home less vulnerable to an oncoming wildfire:
-- Clear weeds, brush, leaves and firewood 30 feet around the house.
-- Keep trees pruned from 6-10 feet up from base of trunk, with no limbs touching the house.
-- Make sure your address is clearly marked with reflective numbers and letters that are 3” high.
-- Avoid using flammable mulch near the house.
-- Store gas, oil, chemicals and other flammable materials 30 feet from the house.
-- Remove dead leaves and needles from rain gutters.
-- Have a garden hose connected on each side of the house.
Submitted by Arthur Nielsen, Emergency Preparedness Team Coordinator
Water District Board News
As part of our initiative in emergency preparedness, we are starting to think about wildland fire safety for the neighborhood. One idea we have considered is to hire a specialist to develop a collaborative workable plan to help us survive wind driven firestorms. The plan may include the removal of dead wood and over grown “ladder fuels.” Any residents interested in volunteering to help this project get started please get in touch with Charlie Krenz at 851-8085.
Submitted by Charlie Krenz, Los Trancos County Water Board
Sudden Oak Death (SOD) Update
Most people have finished spring spraying/injecting of their oaks to guard against SOD. For many it was the 2nd treatment allowing them to rest easy until the fall of 2009. There is no resting easy for those that have Bay Laurel trees, however. Bays should be trimmed back or up 16 feet from the trunks of SOD susceptible oaks to help prevent infection. The dry season (now!) is the best time for this. www.vistaverdeca.org SOD link has tree service recommendations.
Submitted by LTW/VV SOD Task Force
- Belated kudos to Monica Ferrone. Way back in December Monica gave this community a significant holiday gift - she carted off our old electronic waste, keeping it out of the garbage stream where it would have left heavy metals and toxic chemicals, freeing our houses of unwanted polluting junk, and she did this with enthusiasm and cheerfulness. Our junk constituted 2 full pickup truck loads which contained everything from computers to TVs to what appeared to be lab equipment. Not only did Monica keep this waste out of our garbage dumps, but she kept it out of China where there are no environmental controls. Our waste went to a local recycling facility in the south Bay where they disassembled it and recycled as much as possible. THANK YOU, MONICA!
Next Meeting - There is no meeting scheduled. For minutes of the last meeting, please see the LTWCA Web Site.
Los Trancos Woods Community Association Web Site
The web site address is: The group e-mail list is:
Thanks to Jerry Jensen for maintaining this site AND Thanks to Shan Wang for copying our newsletter.