Rancho Santa Fe Association forms Committee on the Natural Environment


By Joe Tash

A new committee formed by the Rancho Santa Fe Association will tackle such issues as what types of trees and plants are needed to increase the health and diversity of the Covenant’s natural areas, and reliable sources of water for the future.

The Committee on the Natural Environment is an ad hoc committee, meaning that it was set up as a temporary panel to address specific issues. However, under a resolution approved by the Association board at its meeting on Thursday, Feb. 2, the ad hoc committee is expected to transition into a permanent, standing committee over the next year.

“So much of what’s beautiful and wonderful about the Rancho Santa Fe area is the landscaping,” said Bill Beckman, a former Association board member and chairman of the new committee, which currently has six members.

But in recent years, said Association Manager Pete Smith, pests such as the red gum lerp psyllid and impacts of a prolonged drought have devastated Rancho Santa Fe’s distinctive eucalyptus forest.

“Every year we lose more and more trees,” said Smith.

By planting drought-resistant tree and plant species, and a broader variety of flora, the area’s natural areas will be better protected from pests, disease and drought, Smith said.

“It’s just a healthier environment,” he said.

Among the new committee’s duties, said Beckman, will be creating a “palette” of different types of trees and plants that can be planted in areas controlled by the Association.

The group will also look at potential sources of water for landscaped areas, which would include the golf course.

“Water is becoming more expensive and more in demand, and the availability of water for this region is gradually being reduced, so we need to be more water-wise,” Beckman said.

The committee will work with the Santa Fe Irrigation District, which provides drinking and irrigation water to Rancho Santa Fe, to come up with recommendations that can then be brought back to the Association membership, Beckman said.

Once the committee identifies an appropriate mix of plants, it may then organize community planting events in which the Association’s members can help beautify and improve the covenant’s natural environment, Beckman said.

“It’s a terrific committee, a terrific group of people,” Beckman said. “I think the work we’re doing will make a real difference to Rancho Santa Fe over the next 20 to 50 years.”

The committee will meet at 9 a.m. on the first Monday of each month at the Association office.