Los Osos trees up for public comment

The public will have an opportunity Saturday to learn about and comment on controversial plans to remove as many as 120 eucalyptus trees from an 8-acre addition to Sweet Springs Nature Reserve in Los Osos.

Officers with the Morro Coast Audubon Society, which manages the reserve, will hold an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. at the reserve addition at Fourth Street and Ramona Avenue. The event will take place rain or shine and will include a project overview, a tour of the property and an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback.

The group is moving ahead with plans to restore the property and install trails and interpretive signs. The restoration calls for the removal of invasive plants, including veldt grass and eucalyptus, and replacing them with native plants, including hundreds of coast live oak.

The restoration is only planned for the 8-acre addition. No trees are planned for removal from the main reserve property, said Holly Sletteland, reserve manager.

Some people have “taken serious exception” to the proposal to remove the eucalyptus trees, Sletteland said. They cite the aesthetic value of the trees as well as the fact that monarch butterflies use them for roosting and various kinds of birds nest in them.

In an effort to assuage these concerns, the group is planning the removal of up to 12 eucalyptus trees per year over 10 years. Biologists will survey the trees before they are removed and ones being actively used by wildlife will be avoided.

The gradual removal of the eucalyptus will allow them to be replaced by native vegetation.

“The native vegetation will also benefit the species that people have voiced the most concern about,” Sletteland said.