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[In Response to Roger Puglieses Letter, The Destruction of Our Trees]
October 17, 2013 -
We are homeowners on W. Hillside Dr. who in 2008-9 made the decision to remove eucalyptus and pine trees from our properties. We did not remove one pine or eucalyptus tree here or there, nor do we think that we, or the Fire Department, can stop a wind-driven wildfire.
However, after many discussions among ourselves over several years, and with representatives from the LA County Forestry Department and the National Park Service, we learned that creation of defensible space within 30 to 100 feet of our homes is the best way currently available to try to protect our homes and our neighbors homes from being lost in a wildfire. Removal of large, non-native, flammable trees also helps protect Hillside Drive as an evacuation route for us and for people living above us and on the Mesa.
We live in a neighborhood with many old, historic homes where dozens of eucalyptus trees were planted very close to our houses 80 years ago. Those trees were reaching the end of their lifespan and were huge and dangerous in many weather conditions. We are appreciative of the NPS and CA Fire Safe Council for grants that allowed us to remove carefully chosen trees. We could never have afforded the work ourselves. So in place of old pine and eucalyptus, we have dozens of coast live oaks growing rapidly on our hillsides. We anticipate that they will provide root systems and mulch to help prevent erosion. So far as we can determine, we have at least as much wildlife as before. There is a loss of shade in the summer [but] our homes are warmer in the winter.
We think that our entire neighborhood is more beautiful because, instead of a eucalyptus grove on both sides of the road, we have recovering native oaks. Most of us have much more dramatic views of the mountains. We hope that having safer, more defensible homes might positively affect our property values.
We very much believe in protecting the natural environment that drew us here originally. However, we also live in a very high risk wildfire area. We concluded that carefully considered and educated decisions about vegetation removal to create defensible space is extremely important.
Lynne Haigh, Ken Wheeland, Joyce Wisdom, Chuck and Nanette Quigley