Trees and fire safety discussed at Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club Quarterly Meeting


Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club members and guests met at the RSF Golf Club on the evening of Nov. 1 for their quarterly meeting. The topics presented included the need for reforestation in the community and education on making sure homes and families are prepared in the event of a wildfire.

Bill Beckman, RSF Garden Club member and leader of the RSF Association’s Committee on the Natural Environment (CONE), spoke on the current and future health of the community’s forest. His presentation included photos of streets in the Ranch from 15 years ago, lined with healthy trees providing an array of benefits. The next photo showed those same streets today with dying and dead trees, having been overly stressed due to drought and pests. Through the leadership of the CONE committee, a strategic plan is being prepared to move forward with efficiency in the effort to re-establish a healthy forest in the community. The plan will specifically identify the end product goal, status, timing and funding needed make this idea a reality.

One of the specific focuses of this effort will include community education and motivation events. These events will inform the community members on why and how to create and maintain a healthy forest, and then to encourage them to act.

Another major task of this strategic plan will be to establish a collaboration with private property owners and other local “stakeholders” (e.g., the Fire District) programs to identify and remove dead and dying trees on private properties. Beckman pointed out that 95 percent of the Covenant forest is on private properties. Dead and dying tree removal on private properties not only beautifies neighborhoods, but also results in the neighborhood having a reduced fire risk and making egress easier in case of fire.

The vision of the reforestation effort is to benefit the future generations of the Ranch. Beckman said “Ten years, 20 years and 50 years from now, the members of our community will either say, ‘They could have (and should have) made a major effort to save our forest,’ or ‘Thank goodness they made the effort to save our forest.”

Conor Lenehan was the second presenter of the evening. Lenehan is the Fire Prevention Specialist II/Forester at the RSF Fire District. His presentation included instructions on landscaping practices and techniques to save a home in a wildfire, as well as personal safety reminders during a wildfire evacuation.

Lenehan showed photos of properties that used fire safe landscaping practices recommended. The photos clearly showed how a wildfire moved around of the home due to the types of trees and plants that were used and where they were placed. Guests learned that the fire district will come out to your property for free to assess what changes need to be made to make their properties more fire safe.

Evacuation preparation recommendations were discussed. Lenehan covered the importance of knowing your neighbors and setting up a calling tree to notify each other of emergencies, having a plan to evacuate animals, knowing evacuations routes, and some good tips on how to further protect your home from a wildfire if there is time to do so before an evacuation. Lenehan stressed that during the event of a wildfire, if you are debating whether or not you should evacuate, “as soon as you feel threatened, that is the time to evacuate.”

Tying in with the evening’s tree theme, Lenehan stressed the importance of removing the dead and dying trees, bushes and brush as one of the best ways to protect your home during a wildfire. The dead and dying trees in the Ranch will only fuel a wildfire, should one reach this community.

To learn more about the reforestation effort in the Ranch, please consider attending a CONE committee meeting. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. at the RSF Association office.

For more information on the RSF Garden Club, contact contact Erin Browne at 858-756-1554 and visit