Residents upset over removal of non-native trees

Residents upset over removal of non-native trees
More than 100 non-native trees will be removed from the Lake Calavera Preserve by the city of Carlsbad. City staff and biologists met with residents of the surrounding neighborhood Tuesday to discuss the process. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — Concerns and questions were raised to city officials and biologists Tuesday at the Calavera Hills Community Center as residents near the Lake Calavera Preserve demanded answers to non-native tree removal.

The situation began when the Carlsbad Municipal Water District obtained a permit from the state to remove native vegetation near the dam to allow for safety inspections.

The permit requires mitigation measures, which means the eradication of non-native vegetation in the preserve.

In addition, a new unisex restroom will also be constructed.

Residents peppered city staff and biologists about the application of the herbicide, how an estimated 120 trees will be removed, wildlife protections and other factors. The herbicide is the controversial Roundup Custom, which contains glyphosate as the active ingredient.

Those in attendance, about 30 to 40 people, appeared stunned when it was revealed the city began the process in 2011 without informing residents in the neighborhood.

“It’s par for the course,” said Amanda Mascia, a five-year resident of the neighborhood. “There is no public trust.”

Several residents spoke of their disappointment with the City Council, which approved the action in June.

During that council meeting, one resident loudly objected to the process saying other than a few scattered notices posted in the preserve, no public meetings or other measures were taken by the city to alert residents of the plan.

The project was delayed to hold the public forum, but is scheduled to begin in August with the application of the herbicide.

Mexican fig palms and Brazilian peppertrees will be injected with herbicide and cut down with chainsaws. However, numerous trees will not be pulled out of the preserve after being cut down as doing so would cause too much damage to the landscape, according to Biologist Mike Trotta of LSA Associates.

All trees, though, will be cut into sections to be either removed or spread throughout the preserve.

Those efforts will begin in September after bird nesting season, and will run from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. After the removal, native species such as western sycamore, western cottonwood, coast live oak, California blackberry, red willow and Mexican elderberry will be planted.

Sherri Howard, associate engineer, said after the tree removal, irrigation measures will be installed followed by a 120-day planting period for native species, which isn’t expected to be until March 2017.

“They had a profound effect on the native vegetation and wildlife,” she said.

Kathleen Prichard, a 23-year resident, asked why the trees must be removed since they have been in the preserve for at least 40 years, which could make them more native than non-native.

Trotta said the current species do and can wreck the ecological system, so removal is the best option.

Prichard, though, said she was more concerned about the herbicide and possible effects if it were to enter the soil.

Other residents questioned city staff why the project appeared clandestine.

Craddock Stropes, a senior management analyst, said it has been a “roller-coaster ride” the past several months. However, she said recent situations with the city and resident is opening up dialogue and the city council understands the residents’ concerns.

“The community has their (the council) attention,” Stropes added.

6 Comments
  1. Don 10 months ago

    So typical of the way things are done in Carlsbad now. “We know best so we won’t bother to tell the citizens what’s going on” which equates to “It’s none of your business. We can do as we please.” Not for much longer. Come November there will be some changes at City Hall and the people will have taken back OUR city.

  2. GK 10 months ago

    I’ve been a resident of that community for 30 years and the area 60. I think it’s about time the non-native species were eradicated. It should have been done long ago and shame on anyone that feels just because a weed has grown here for 40 years it shouldn’t be pulled.

  3. Boss Hoggs! 10 months ago

    Carlsbad’s leaders have lost all their citizen’s trust.

  4. Don 10 months ago

    Not going to argue the merits of removal, but does it really have to cost $600,000 to do it? For so-called fiscal conservatives Hall and his pals sure love spending our money, don’t they? I can think of a lot more important things that could be done.

  5. Gary Thomason 10 months ago

    More of a concern to me personally is the recent extensive draw-down of water from the lake apparently facilitate dam safety inspection. I was so concerned by the weeks of continuous draining this spring that I contacted the relevant officials of Carlsbad via email, and was told this was needed to “change out one of the valves”. But he also made it clear that the Lake’s level would remain at a new lower level than before.

    I hike the trails several times a week, so I was easily able to monitor the draining being done and when, and the draining continued full bore for two weeks after the valve had been changed out. I would estimate the lake level was reduced fully 25-30 percent during this time, resulting in a very low level just in time for the summer heat and dry season to start. I have lived next to the lake for nearly 30 years, and the lake level is lower than I have ever seen in any previous year, with two islands, a peninsula, and a sunken boat that is now on that beach. With the current drought and expected hot summer, I would not be surprised to see the lake all but dry up to a tiny pond before the rainy season starts up. This will kill all the fish and other wildlife which depends on the lake.

    Pond Calavera cannot be blamed solely on the drought – you blew it.

  6. Jan Neff-Sinclair 10 months ago

    I was stunned at some of the comments made by city staff and consultants at that meeting. Craddock Strokes was smiling away as she told the many concerned citizens that nothing could be done because the process had begun in 2011. My understanding is that there was supposed to be citizen outreach regarding this process. I do NOT consider refusal to consider the opinions of the people who live near the poison site to be outreach. If the people accepted that sort of attitude from the city, we would have a mall under construction at the AH lagoon right now. The city could stop the process in its tracks if it so chose. Many great suggestions that do not involve a Monsanto poison, which is a hell of a lot more invasive than those trees, were proposed to the city, but in their “wisdom,” the city chose to ignore them. The only reason the community has the city council’s attention is because they are worried about re-election, as they should be! This blatant disregard for the health and will of our citizens is just one in a long line of such decisions. It is time for a change at Carlsbad city hall.

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