Olema Valley eucalyptus cut in big Caltrans project

03/10/2021

A roadway safety project that involves up to 200 eucalyptus trees is underway along Highway 1 in the Olema Valley. According to Caltrans spokeswoman RocQuel Johnson, an arborist inspected the trees before marking them for trimming or removal due to age or disease. The $3.5 million endeavor started in December, causing one-lane closures from the Point Reyes Field Station south to Bolinas; it is slated for completion by summer’s end. Ms. Johnson said the project falls within the sole jurisdiction of Caltrans, which notified the California Coastal Commission and local federal and county parks of the scope of work and held a 30-day public comment period required under the California Environmental Quality Act. The trees are tied to local history, particularly along the winding section of Highway 1 known by locals as the Thirteen Turns. Irish immigrant and dairy farmer Henry Strain took to planting the trees to designate the boundaries of his Dogtown property. After his ranch ceased operating in the 1970s, young eucalyptus spread over pastureland bordering the highway, historian Dewey Livingston said. Some residents are less than happy. “We who love that beautiful drive should have something to say about this, and maybe it’s not too late to stop it—or at least moderate it,” Bolinas resident Dale Polissar wrote in a letter to the editor. “There are no doubt good arguments for what they’re doing—fire and driver safety—but the preservation of great natural beauty and a beloved landscape is also an important argument and should not be relegated to a minor consideration.”