By Karen Billing
The Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors received an update on the status of the Covenant landscape June 20 from field operations manager Arnold Keene, who just completed his first year on the job. Since taking on the new position he said there haven’t been any major changes, just little tweaks and looking at things with fresh eyes, keeping a focus on the health of the Covenant forest, maintaining the quality of the trail system, fire safety and keeping the community looking beautiful.
“This community prides itself on its landscape and we always try to enhance and preserve that to the best of our ability,” Keene said.
As the Association receives a lot of calls for service, Keene has been working with the parks and recreation staff on prioritizing calls when they get them and acting quickly to fix member requests. Keene said they have increased staff training and upgraded equipment.
Keene said that he is proud that in some planting areas they have started to incorporate more low water plants and have cut down on water use by 30 percent. Despite planting lower maintenance plants in some areas, they are “still giving the pop (of color) that the community loves,” Keene said.
Parks and recreation has also been working on the tree maintenance program, focusing on removing dead and dying trees from high volume traffic areas and roads that would be considered evacuation routes in the event of a wildfire, Keene said. They have placed an emphasis on fire safety and over the past year did a two-week clearing on the Ewing Preserve. In removing some dying eucalyptus they have actually seen oak trees grow in their place, Keene said.
The new Committee On the Natural Environment (CONE) has also worked closely with parks and recreation staff on water conservation, forest health and landscaping projects, such as the entry to the Osuna Ranch and the nearly complete project to enhance the village entrance from Encinitas at La Bajada.