North County : Group Seeks to Protect Rare Trees in Canyons

To protect a rare species of trees in Coal, Gypsum and Freemont canyons, the Sierra Club chapter representing 45,000 Los Angeles and Orange County members recently adopted a resolution stating that the 1,000 acres of Tecate cypress should be incorporated into a public or private nature preserve.

A group of residents concerned that a proposed landfill in Coal or Gypsum canyon would destroy the Tecate also plans to form a "Friends of the Tecate Cypress" group, said Connie Spenger, a member of several environmental groups.

Ronald Lofy, a consultant with Lockman & Associates who helped prepare a study of the canyons, cited the presence of the Tecate cypress in Coal Canyon as one reason why Gypsum canyon was preferable to Coal for the landfill.

But the trees are in both canyons, mostly on the upper ridges, said Spenger and Ken Croker, chairman of the Orange County Foothills subcommittee that recommended the Sierra Club resolution.

"They're very definitely in both, and anybody who knows anything about Tecate cypress, knows that," Croker said. But a landfill in Gypsum, which is the larger canyon, probably would not disturb the cypress as much as a landfill in Coal, which is much smaller, Croker said.

Coal, Gypsum and Freemont canyons are among eight in the nation that include the Tecate cypress, Croker said.

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