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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Save the Majestic Eucalyptus" ..... ??

Another example of how a little information can be a dangerous thing.  Comparing environmentalists to Minutemen and the hunt for invasives to the anti-immigration movement, anthropologist Hugh Raffles' recent New York Times' op-ed piece glorifies eucalyptus and encourages pity for the poor beleaguered iceplant that is only trying to hold up our hillsides:

"Today, a species’s immigration status often makes it a target for eradication, no matter its effect on the environment. Eucalyptus trees, charged with everything from suffocating birds with their resin to elevating fire risk with their peeling bark, are the targets of large-scale felling.
Yet eucalyptuses are not only majestic trees popular with picnickers, they are one of the few sources of nectar available to northern Californian bees in winter and a vital destination for migrating monarch butterflies.
Or take ice plant, a much-vilified Old World succulent that spreads its thick, candy-colored carpet along the California coast. Concerned that it is crowding out native wildflowers, legions of environmental volunteers rip it from the sandy soil and pile it in slowly moldering heaps along the cliffs.
Yet ice plant, introduced to the West Coast at the beginning of the 20th century to stabilize railroad tracks, is an attractive plant that can also deter erosion of the sandstone bluffs on which it grows."
Note the abundance of Iceplant on this failed bluff in Leucadia.
Comparing racism with invasive species may seem like a catchy article subject but in actuality it is insulting and misinformed.  Invasive plants pose a very real threat to both our native flora and fauna, countless acres of freshwater nesting habitat have been destroyed by the steady spread of Pampas Grass, Fairbanks Ranch may as well be located in Australia, and anyone who still thinks Iceplant is good for slopes needs to take a closer look at our coastal bluffs.  To compare the hard work of people trying to preserve what little remaining habitat we have in Southern California with xenophobic anti-immigration groups shows how very little Mr. Raffles knows about the subject he is apparently so passionate about.

Read his full article here.  and please comment or contact Mr. Raffles directly to share with him our first hand experiences of how invasive plants are actually quite a threat to our remaining native areas.

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