Eucalyptus fact check
A recent letter to Baywood News claims that eucalyptus trees are part of the natural “biodiversity” of the Sweet Springs nature preserve in Los Osos. Well, perhaps in Australia, but certainly not in California! In California, biodiversity actually decreases when eucalyptus trees take hold. Eucalyptus out-competes most of our native plants. Their dense root systems crowd out or stunt native plants due to the prodigious amounts of water and nutrients sucked out by the fast-growing eucalyptus.
This is why planting around the eucalyptus is not viable. Eucalyptus also drop huge amounts of leaves and bark, smothering nearby plants.
The letter refers to Sweet Springs’ eucalyptus as “ancient,” but the former owner (age 90) remembers when there were no eucalyptus on Sweet Springs. The family planted cypress on the property — the eucalyptus invaded from an adjoining lumber/firewood plantation.
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The letter’s author suggests a “native garden” could be planted in a small field close to the entrance of Sweet Springs. But the most critical part of the preserve is near the estuary, which is the area most in need of native re-vegetation to protect wetlands, marshes and the estuary itself.
Sweet Springs sour
The efforts by the Morro Coast Audubon Society to gradually remove the eucalyptus trees surrounding Sweet Springs in Los Osos, in the name of biodiversity and returning the area to its “native” condition, seems like an effort driven by tunnel vision. The eucalyptus, first planted in the area around 1918-20, give the area around the freshwater spring its charm and make it sweet.
In 10 years, if all the eucalyptus trees are removed, the spring will just be a freshwater pond along the mudflats in the backwater of the bay, surrounded perhaps by other trees that someone has surmised are “native” to the area. Not so sweet.
St. Louis, Mo.
What makes ‘natural’?
I am tired of reading from those who want to eliminate the eucalyptus trees from Sweet Springs and other areas because they are not the “natural habitat.” At what arbitrary point in time is “natural” defined?
If one were to go back to the beginning of time, the “natural habitat” for this area would be water. All trees and plants have been introduced in any given locale initially by some member of the earth, be it the winds, the birds or the animals including the two-legged animal, humans. The world evolves, folks! Accept it.
Leave these beautiful trees alone and allow them to continue to grace our coast line.
How sweet it is!
Baywood is a small community of people who care about their surroundings. We love the plants that were here before we were born, but also nature as it is today. Both are part of Baywood. Trees take many years to grow and cannot be replaced.
Los Osos has a little treasure, called Sweet Springs. Not many people know about it, and we like to keep it that way. It is a place you go to when you want to be alone. There are no roads to it, only a five-minute trail and you are there alone with nature.
Where can you find a place like that in this busy world? Turn off your cellphone, forget your computer and be very quiet. Listen to the birds as you sit under the majestic eucalyptus trees and look at the butterflies hanging in the trees. Look around you at the squirrels and other creatures. Maybe a deer will stare at you from behind a bush.
Please do not disturb this special place, and preserve it for the people of Los Osos who want to keep this little spot to be alone with their maker.
Ybi Van Ekeren