Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A McCaw by Any Other Name?

According to the Santa Maria Times, Wendy McCaw's former husband Craig didn't get a permit for removing hundreds of eucalyptus trees from his Gaviota property as his management company "didn't know" that they were a monarch habitat.

Still, why wouldn't they think twice in removing so many trees and ask someone at the County Planning Department? To their benefit, McCaw's "people" sound like they understand a bit about horticulture and want to bring native plants to the eventually large McMansion McCaw must have planned. Eucalyptus trees are hated by horticulturalists almost as much as invasive pampas grass because they are "water suckers" and not-native. Two strikes right off the bat.

I have to ask though, even if they were brought here from Australia maybe a hundred years ago -- how long do they have to be here before they are native? And, when are they not part of our ecosystem if monarchs, red tail hawks and the like nest in them?

I could go either way on deciding whether Craig McCaw was correct in trying to go native on his coastal property....but you would think his staff would make sure he wasn't breaking any laws by cutting such a large number down. The Age of Entitlement we are in doesn't just apply to the younger generation....



Blogger Patrick said...

I would think that eucalyptus would have to have been here a very long time (thousands of years?) to be considered native. Otherwise, you'd have "native" Hawaiian mongoose in the Hawaiian Islands, "native" feral pigs on Santa Cruz Island, "native" pampas grass in Goleta, etc, etc, all of which create some type of ecological damage to the species that cannot compete. I had heard that, prior to the introduction of eucalyptus to this area, the monarch's nested in sycamore trees. I suspect that if eucalyptus were eliminated, the butterflies would return to the sycamores.

9/04/2007 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

perhaps mccaw is one of those don't ask, apologize later kind of guys

however a land-use consultant doesn't know about permits for doing work?

eucs also are also home to owls but quite dangerous to houses as they fall down easily (tall with shallow roots) so my guess is that the man got what he wanted by doing what he wanted & paying the price (he can easily afford) after the fact rather than be told 'no'

9/04/2007 8:27 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

The trick is to remove the Eucalyptus stands in a selective and gradual process. It should have been monitored by Mr. McCaw's "people" and/or the "county's" "people" to ensure the habitat does not harm native species such as the Monarch and Red Tail Hawks that have adapted to the non-native hosts. The clear cutting of established Eucs can be as disaterous as clear cutting of native forrests. Overall, it is a great idea to eradicate Euc stands in most cases and for many reasons including the "water sucker" attribute and also because Eucs are notorious torches in wildfires. Similar to Pampas Grass the Eucs are indeed envasive and are detrimental to native riparian habitats. When there is an opportunity to carefully remove Eucs then do it! Lastly I would have thought that if Mr. McCaws "people" were local or foreigners they would have certainly known that razing hundreds of "anything" would have required a permit or governemtal scrutiny. "Santa Barbara" will be demonized as governemental tyrants and as if no other place on the planet has these types of reulations. Who would have thought you could not clear cut a forrest?

9/04/2007 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"younger generation"? Craig McCaw is 58, old enough to know better or at least to know that any land development/clearing within sight of the coast and in SB County requires permits.

9/04/2007 10:58 PM  
Anonymous CarpCoyote said...

Craig McCaw..what do you expect from a guy who thinks we’ll soon be invaded by space aliens?

Dispersal and competition are facts of can’t possible keep out species because someone labels them “non-native”..If people don’t bring them here, then the wind will. Can you imagine hordes of people going up and down the coast of California destroying plants and animals that scare them? Oh’s already happening on the Channel Islands and in San Francisco.

Eucalyptus have become the “trailer park trash” of the California treescape thanks to the university-cloned architects of invasion biology… they use terms like “insidious, pervasive, nefarious” to promote an invasive species crisis which relies on distortions and’s another one: “ the eucalyptus invade and destroy native ecosystems by suppressing understory and being of no value to native wildlife”. What will they come up with next, eucs steal and eat children?

If you have ANY critical thinking skills and/or observation skills,you may see that eucalyptus support many so-called native species from butterflies to owls. Any dead, dying or diseased trees of any species should be removed when possible. However, removing trees, animals or plants for spurious reasons (fear, prejudice, or because the pseudo-scientists said so) is unconscionable.

9/05/2007 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anybody gone out there and taken a picture of the cutting?

9/05/2007 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A hundred trees got chopped down right in the heart of the downtown by an out of town developer at East Anapmau and Salsipuedes, near SB High.

In the Daily Sound, Cherie Rae reported this but it should have been front page news because it was done without a permit and surrounded by lies.

This is far more the important story for this town, than what McCaw does on his own private property.

9/05/2007 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

The Eucalyptus issue is a tricky one (and no, the wind would not have blown them here from Australia). Ellwood Cooper is personally responsible for saving millions of tons of topsoil by importing Eucalyptus trees to coastal California and recommending that they be planted as windbreaks against the prevailing sea breeze. Unfortunately, the Oaks that had previously served this purpose had, for the most part, been removed to clear farm land and be burned as fuel. On the other hand, except in their role as a windbreak, Eucalyptus trees do not enhance our local natural habitat but rather compete with other species that would. I agree with donaldo that a gradual replacement strategy would have been best. As far as skirting the County permit process, that is just typical selfish, misanthropic, Ayn Rand, libertarianism arrogantly displayed.

9/05/2007 7:46 AM  
Anonymous wineguy said...

The story indicates that the County's maps did not identify the trees as a butterfly habitat. (It's their status as regards the butterflies that requires the permit.) Apparently they only show as a butterfly zone in an obscure UCSB report. IMHO If the County can't get their maps right I don't believe an individual developer should be held responsible.

9/05/2007 7:58 AM  
Anonymous snarky said...

donaldo de Santa Barbara said...
The trick is to remove the Eucalyptus stands in a selective and gradual process

Hundred-year old stand of trees, owner from the Pacific Northwest...

9/05/2007 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the News-Press write about this? They sure were up in arms over the city's decision to cut down the trees on lower State Street.

9/05/2007 8:56 AM  
Anonymous eggs_ackley said...

anon 7:11 wrote "a hundred trees got chopped down". where did that false factoid come from? and why is Craig's blunder less important? Is it because Cheri Rae squawks loud, makes up her facts to suit her arguments, and tosses slander about as though it were a frisbee at the beach?

Mark Loyd, McCaw's planning consultant/facilitator definitely knows better and also knows exactly how to game the system. witness one of his current projects under construction, the mega-mcmansions going in off vista del oceano on the upper mesa!

9/05/2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

From what I've learned being in Santa Barbara for 20 years, is that if you're great-great-great-great-great grandfather wasn't José de la Guerra y Noriega then you're not a native Santa Barbaran and you should get the hell out of town. I guess the same holds true for trees!

9/05/2007 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really, really, really want TA to weigh in on this one. Please! Early Christmas present?

9/05/2007 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eucalyptus are nasty trees and should be removed. In many places they are referred to as "widow makers". Their branches break easily, they have shallow roots, and they incinerate when touched by fire. As others pointed out, there are better trees (yes, natives) out there that can take the place of the eucalyptus. A gradual removal would have been best but now that they are gone let's hope that they are replaced with something better.

9/06/2007 6:44 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

you can’t possible keep out species because someone labels them “non-native”..If people don’t bring them here, then the wind will.

carpcoyote: Do you really believe yourself? I suppose the wind would have carried eucalyptus here all the way from Oceania? By your logic, we should just get it over with and start flying in the planeload of Mediterranean Fruitfly, glassywinged sharpshooter, or about a million other parasites, insects, and assorted pests of the floral or faunal variety.

Sara: I guess to answer your question about when something is considered finally native - from a biological perspective, probably never. It's just a question as to whether its presence in the environment does more harm than good (or is somewhat "neutral"), and if the removal would be more detrimental, or logistically impossible. Notice that there's no statewide, countywide, or citywide organized program for active removal of all -- or even large amounts of -- eucalyptus. That doesn't mean, however, that it's impossible or undesirable to engage in any approved, planned removal.

9/06/2007 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cherie Rae puts her facts into the public forum and signs her name to them. She will back up anything she says. Stupid, she is not. Passionate, commited and active, she is. Take your swift-boat attack someplace else. Thank you very much.

9/06/2007 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Carpcoyote said...

Allegro…of course I believe myself over a university-cloned biologist.. and
where in my post did I say Eucs fly..NOWHERE!!

Learn how to read comprehensively..and while you’re studying, check your own logic…
the eradication attempts of “invaders” like Mediterranean Fruitflies and gypsy moths have caused massive outbreaks of real pests like whiteflies, aphids, and others. Yet, the “authorities” never learn.. “let’s do it again!”,they say..more poison (the ag industry will gleefully fund). Did you see the suited men in trucks squirting poison onto telephone poles in Hope Ranch? Did you laugh?
Sometimes the blacklisted species come back stronger and build resistance to eradication effort. Or, the threat was never much to begin with…

There is indeed an invasive species hysteria and it is brought to you by Clinton and Gore’s war against ferals cooked up
in 1998 … It is pure folly to think California can and should return to a “native–only” state..yet billions are wasted trying to do just that. Bionativism is a psychological problem, not a science problem. To make a point, here’s a quote from Craig McCaw: "The orcas swim in space that we don't very well understand and of course in outer space we will face some day the moral dilemma of how to deal with aliens who land on earth….”

9/06/2007 8:59 PM  
Anonymous eggs_ackley said...

anonymous 5:37

when a person accuses another of lying in a public forum (a televised city board meeting) without any factual basis for making such accusations, then has the temerity to make the same accusations in letters to public figures which the become part of the public domain, is that passion, stupid, or perhaps a lot of both??

her credibility went down significantly with that mis-step.

9/07/2007 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shall we weep and sing a sad song for the Eucalyptus trees? They are invasive and non-native. The County would have told him to remove them anyhow. What is the problem?

9/11/2007 12:26 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home