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Hundreds of Trees To Be Planted Along Coast Highway In Leucadia

Aired 12/8/11 on KPBS News.

Leucadia residents turned out in force to plant the first of hundreds of trees planned along a stretch of Highway 101. It turns out the North County project has a long history.

People of all ages wielding shovels were digging vigorously along Coast Highway on Wednesday, planting Monterey Cyprus, Western Redbuds and Strawberry trees as cars and trucks rushed by.

Eucalyptus along Highway 101 in Leucadia, Dec 7th 2011
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Above: Eucalyptus along Highway 101 in Leucadia, Dec 7th 2011

Long-time resident Russell Levan said this stretch used to be shaded year-round by a canopy of huge eucalyptus trees. But many of them have had to be removed because they were so old.

“This is the start of a new era,” he said. “We are re-canopying the Coast Highway in Leucadia - so this is the first 101 trees of 1,000 trees to go in over the next several years.”

Mark Wisniewski was part of a similar community tree planting here 20 years ago. At that time the community planted only native trees to complement the eucalyptus which were planted back in the 1880s. But he said, the history of the road is older than that.

“We were attempting to create a natural corridor connecting the lagoon with Cottonwood Creek," he explained,"because traditionally, there had been an Indian trail connecting the two locations.”

Residents of all ages  work together to plant trees along Highway 101, Dec 7th 2011
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Above: Residents of all ages work together to plant trees along Highway 101, Dec 7th 2011

Marti Smith brought his whole family to help: his wife and two young daughters. They have lived in Leucadia 14 years and Smith said he’s watched too many old trees disappear.

“It’s been too long we’ve been cutting them all down,” he said as he covered the root ball of a Cyprus sapling. “It’s time to put some back in the ground.”

The trees are the first phase of a long-range plan. The City of Encinitas wants to develop a pedestrian friendly commercial corridor along Highway 101 through Leucadia. The trees may be mature by the time that project is complete.

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