By KAREN BILLING
The Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors approved the front nine of the RSF Golf Club’s tree management plan at its May 15 meeting, capping over a year’s worth of progress in coming up with a plan that “best serves the entire community’s interests from golf playability to the aesthetic quality of the Ranch.”
The plan recommends the removal of 32 trees and the planting of 30 new replacement trees. Additionally, 10.7 acres of turf will be eliminated and replaced with native shrubs, resulting in a substantial water savings.
The work is expected to begin in September with a 90- to 120-day construction process.
The tree plan for holes 10 through 18 are part of phase two and are to be renovated in September 2015. The tree management and turf reduction plans for those holes will be reviewed through the same procedure in the coming months.
Last year, hundreds of community members showed up to public meetings with serious concerns about the club cutting down trees. At that time, some trees had already been cut down and tentative plans for removal and re-plantings called for a net loss of 102 trees. The community asked for more input and better communication from the club.
After a joint meeting with the Association and club, a committee was formed to represent various interests, such as members from the Committee on the Natural Environment (CONE) and representatives from the club’s greens committee and board of governors.
The committee made great progress in the last 18 months and the current plan is substantially better, said RSF Golf Club Manager Al Castro.
“What started out as a very tenuous committee became a very cohesive and effective committee,” Castro said. “There was very much a give and take and they all felt very positive about this process.”
RSF Association President Phil Wilkinson complimented director Jerry Yahr for his very hard work on the committee, representing both the board and the trails committee.
Castro said the resulting tree management plan is a “living, breathing document” that will guide the club moving forward. Every aspect was considered with the trees — each individual tree from a black acacia on hole one to red ironbarks on hole nine, were given a thoughtful review and analysis by the committee with recommendations to remove or to prune and put on a watch-list.
The first nine holes of the master plan were also approved by the Covenant Design Review Committee on May 6 and will now be presented to the Golf Club membership for their approval.
In other Golf Club news, the Association board approved changes to the club’s bylaws to increase the total number of junior executive memberships from 20 to 30. The membership category allows members under the age of 48 to spread out their enrollment fees in installments.
Castro said that in the two years since approving the membership category, they have recruited 18 junior executive members. After the members hit the age of 48, they become regular members of the club and a spot in the junior executive membership category opens up.