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Residents of Encinitas love their trees so much, they will fight to keep all the foliage they can.

During the past few years, community residents have protested cutting down any of their trees. There was public outcry when the North County Transit District uprooted 13 dying or diseased eucalyptus trees on Highway 101 in Leucadia last January. Eight months earlier, community members held candlelight vigils for two diseased, 115-year-old cypress trees chopped down in a nearby park.

Last February, the tree slaughter continued when eleven 30-foot-tall
saplings from Orpheus Park were axed because they were restricting neighbors’
 views. The decision drew widespread criticism. Andrew Watkins took up residence in one of the 30-foot-tall tipu trees for seven days, trying to prevent crews from removing it. Watkins’s protest was fruitless.

The issue has since blossomed into a thorny one during the last two Encinitas City Council meetings.

At the March 11 meeting, the community expressed their concerns over the process of removing the trees while chastising the city council for mishandling the issue.

“You made fun of [Watkins] in emails, in the press -- you dissed him, you dissed the citizens, but he was our hero,” said one resident during the public comment segment of the city council meeting. “You have wounded this city tremendously. You have done the wrong thing here. I hope you can stand living with yourselves.”

One week after that meeting, on March 18, in an effort to reassure residents the city is dedicated to maintaining its status as a community of trees, the city council unanimously adopted the Urban Forest Management policy.

The policy recognizes “trees are an integral part of the city’s infrastructure,” ensures conservation, and that funds relating to the city’s urban forest are spent properly in order to encourage community and private partnerships. The management plan’s central tenet is to “maximize the environmental, economical, and social benefits derived from the urban forest.”

Yet, the removal of trees will continue as 100-year-old eucalyptus trees along Highway 101 in Leucadia continue to die of disease. Some community members, including former city council members, have vowed to fight to save as many trees as possible.

For more on Encinitas’ fight for foliage, go to leucadia.blogspot.com.

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