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Caspar Considers Exotic Invaders

Caspar News and Press Releases

Caspar Considers Exotic Invaders

We live on an island of good soil and clement weather, and can grow almost anything we want, from agave to zoysia ...but should we? Should native species only be encouraged in our State Parks, or should invasive non-native species, Eucalyptus, gorse, Himalaya berry, iceplant, and pampas grass (to name a few) be allowed to overrun?

On Sunday, May 11th, at 3pm, the Caspar community will meet in their Community Center to discuss this issue. State Parks' Resource Ecologist Peter Warner will attend the meeting to present his approach to invasive species. Many members of the Caspar Community have personal experience with these species, and over the years a number of temporary and permanent solutions have been tried, with mixed results.

At 2pm, before the meeting, an Exotics Survey walk is scheduled onto the Caspar Headlands, starting from the Community Center at 15051 Caspar Road.

Now, as the rainy season ends (we hope), and gardening season begins, awareness of exotic species and their potential to become invaders is important for those who work the soil. With another fire season on its way, and knowing that some of our airborne fire fighting capability is being moved away, large stands of intensely flammable plants like Eucalyptus and gorse present a clear danger. There is little doubt that eucalypts are bad plant citizens: the fire risk, threats to human life and limb, displacement of important wildlife habitat, poisoned hummingbirds, and other negative effects. In Warner's opinion, "the time has come to cut these woody bullies down to size."

"For the Eucalyptus and gorse on Caspar headlands and elsewhere, there are options and responsibilities, and this community meeting provides an important forum for us to determine the best course of action," summarizes Caspar resident Judy Tarbell. "I appreciate the need to take action before the Eucalyptus encroach further, but I am concerned about the methods State Parks proposes next to my organic garden."

"I stand with Peter," asserts Tarbell's neighbor, Michael Potts. "The Eucalyptus have to go. I deeply appreciate State Parks's willingness to work with the community to find the best way for the abatement effort to proceed." Potts favors a "restoration forestry" approach whereby the stand of offending trees is replaced over a period of years with native species such as the Shore Pine that used to cover the headlands.

"The matter of invasive exotic plant and animal species is not well understood, and that brings us to another ‘Caspar moment,’" Potts says. "We agree that the invaders are taking our headlands, but need to find informed consensus about how to counter their advance. The issue is much larger than Caspar Headlands." Potts, the Caspar webster, has posted an electronic version of the Caspar Newsletter at exploring the issue of exotics.

As always, all who care about the coastal community are welcome at the meeting, and as always the meeting will be followed by a potluck dinner.

written by Michael Potts for the Mendocino Beacon, 8 May 2003

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