2022.05.26 | Dead Pine No Longer Threatens Beloved Oak Tree

view of forest from drone

Photo: Misael Pena, circled in yellow, cutting the crown of a dead Monterey pine looming over the rounded crown of the large coast live oak. Drone image by Martin Garcia of CCSD.


Last Monday Carlos Mendoza, Cambria Community Services District’s (CCSD) Ranch Manager, oversaw removal of a dead Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) that threatened to fall on a beloved coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia).  The crown of the dead pine was directly over the large, multi-trunked oak growing at the junction of the Trenton and Forest Loop trails.  This oak is a favorite of many and has been the site of several ceremonies, including the recent induction of Fiscalini Ranch Preserve into the Old Growth Forest Network.

     While CCSD Facilities staff perform many Fiscalini Ranch management functions themselves, they hired an outside firm to do the delicate job of removing the pine’s crown limb-by-limb and reducing the trunk by sections.  The process took several hours and a crew of five assisted by CCSD’s Mr. Mendoza, Alberto Novas, and Martin Garcia.  With a tree this iconic and precious, the crew took exceptional care to protect the oak, as well as the surrounding trees.

     The pine that was removed on Monday was an older specimen, but Monterey pine are not long-lived.  Their life span is much like that of humans:  around 80 years with a few living as long as 100 years.  In contrast, coast live oak often live 250 years, although individuals may live up to 1,000 years.  You can recognize mature Monterey pine because they develop flat-topped crowns.

     Protecting Fiscalini Ranch habitat is an important charge for both CCSD and Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (FFRP).  Before projects such as this one begins, CCSD hires a biological consultant to survey the area for nesting birds and mammals and then shares the survey with FFRP.  The biologist found no evidence of nesting birds or mammals, including dusky footed wood rat nests.  Since this is the site where two heavily used trails come together, that was not surprising.

     With the dead pine removed, Ranch visitors can look forward to many more years of the oak’s beauty.  FFRP appreciates the care CCSD takes in managing and protecting the Ranch.  FFRP members are pleased to underwrite this project.

Article first published in https://cambriaca.org/