Lerps let up; goal now to restore health

The red-gum lerp psyllid appears to have loosened its grip on Rancho Santa Fe’s trees, but that doesn’t mean work is done for the Rancho Santa Fe Forest Health Task Force.

Ivan Holler, Covenant administrator, said the important task now is creating a new healthy forest, replacing the red gum eucalyptus that have died or been removed with different varieties of trees.

“This is the very long-term project of changing the makeup of the trees in the Ranch and moving away from a monoculture,” Holler said.

The task force will next meet at 9 a.m. on Sept. 14 at the association office.

Calls into the association office regarding tree infestations have been fewer since the launch of the task force Web site, and due to the trees regaining their strength.

“The forest is a lot healthier now,” said associate planner Arnold Keane.

Bill Beckman, association president, said he’d be interested to know the number of trees that were lost in the latest infestation.

“We were scared to death because everything was so bare a few months ago but someone of them have come back,” Beckman said.

But Beckman said just because trees have come back to health, the association still should push reforestation.

The task force is working on a suggested tree list for new plantings. While the list still needs to be approved by the Art Jury and the committee, the task force has come up with a list of several varieties of trees that provide different effects.

Tall skyline trees, which provide dramatic silhouettes against the skyline at 40- to 70-feet tall, include white alders, ash, Torrey pines, sycamores and western cottonwoods.

Canopy trees, good 25- to 30-foot accent trees with broad spreading forms include jacarandas, Chinese flame trees, pepper trees and African tulip trees.

Vertical growing trees, known for their upright character include bottle trees, sweet shades and paperbacks. Ornamental trees are also included like strawberry trees, redbud, Australian willows and olive trees, and low-multi branching trees for undergrowth like guava and Victorian box trees.

The committee also will suggest different species of eucalyptus trees, less susceptible to insects than the red gum.

“We would want to maintain the eucalyptus as our signature tree,” said vice president Tim Sullivan.

The board discussed options of using association funds to buy trees in bulk and also developing an arboretum to help show homeowners what certain trees would look like.