Catalina Island News

New Trees Will Join Healthy Pines at Haypress after Catalina Island Fire

Catalina Island Conservancy

Seventy Torrey pines, 90 Catalina ironwoods, 55 Island cherries and 30 Island oaks are among the 245 trees that are slated for the restoration of the Haypress picnic area.  Planted in four distinct groves, the trees will replace about 130 pine trees killed by a combination of a two-year drought, last year's May 10th fire, and a bark beetle infestation in and around the Haypress area. 

Grove 1 is in Haypress itself, and along the side of the road across from Haypress; it will be largely a Torrey pine grove. About 25 healthy pines that did not sustain damage from last year's fire will remain. Grove 2 is located alongside the Stagecoach Road approaching Haypress from the east, and will be a Catalina ironwood grove. The third grove is along the Stagecoach Road just below the Summit Vista Native Plant Garden, and is reserved for Catalina Island cherries. The last grove is located along the Stagecoach Road at the Laura Stein Volunteer Camp turnoff, and will be island oaks. A temporary eight-foot fence will be placed around the groves to discourage browsing by non-native mule deer.

The picnic grounds remain closed for public safety while Conservancy crews are cutting down and clearing the dead trees. Several large branches had fallen onto picnic tables and were leaning over the road and play areas, creating a potential threat to traffic and visitors to Haypress.

The Conservancy consulted a professional arborist to assess the condition of the trees at Haypress, and to make recommendations as to which trees to remove. Mark Hoefs, retired Director of the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, has completed a restoration design that will be carried out by the Conservancy's Facilities and Botanic Garden staff over the course of the next few months.  Hoefs is supervising the project.

Hoefs said that the initial planting of the Torrey pines will be finished within a few weeks, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy the park at that time. The rest of the planting will be finished by the end of the year.

"There were about 25 healthy pines that were not killed in the fire," Hoefs said. "We are going to leave them so that the familiar sight of these towering conifers will remain a part of the Haypress landscape. This will be a beautiful balance between the well-recognized pines and the new grove of Torrey pines."

The Conservancy chose Torrey pines to fill in the lost conifer grove because they are Channel Island natives. The Torrey pine was first "discovered" in 1850 in what is now northern San Diego County, by Dr. Charles Christopher Parry. In 1888, the mystique of the tree was enhanced by botanist T. S. Brandagee's discovery of Torrey pines on Santa Rosa Island. Several theories have been set forth trying to explain the two stands of trees some 175 miles apart. These include that trees arrived through bird droppings; that earthquakes moved landmasses over long periods of time due to plate tectonics; and, that the trees were once more widely spread along the Southern California coast. There is also another closely related species of pine (called Santa Cruz Island pine) growing naturally on Santa Cruz Island.

"Haypress is an important recreational area for the community," said Ann Muscat, Conservancy President. "We are committed to restoring it to its former beauty, and improving it for all to enjoy."

Muscat said the cherry and ironwood groves so close to Stagecoach Road will give residents and guests on the many tour buses that wind their way out into the interior, "a wonderful view of these rare Island endemics found on Catalina and no where else in the world." 

Conservancy supporters, and tree-lovers at large, will have a chance to sponsor any of the trees that will soon be planted in and around Haypress.

"Purchasing a $500 sponsorship for a specific species of tree from a grove that the donor selects, would make a wonderful memorial or honorarium," said the Conservancy's Chief Development Officer Jackie McDougall. "While it's not possible to donate a specific tree, donors will be able to pick a species of tree in a particular grove."

Sponsors will receive a handsome certificate suitable for framing.

Of the new trees that will be planted, the island oak, Catalina ironwood, and Island cherry are native to Catalina Island and have all been planted and propagated at either the James H. Ackerman Native Plant Nursery or the native plant nursery at the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden. The Torrey pines are being brought in from a nursery in Northern California.

For more information on the Haypress Tree Restoration Project or to sponsor any of the four groves, please contact Jackie McDougall at (562) 437-8555 ext. 228.