The Humboldt County Public Works Department is set to tell the Board of Supervisors that moving forward with the Humboldt Bay Trail Project is going to necessitate the removal of more than 200 eucalyptus trees along U.S. Highway 101 north of the old California Redwood Company mill.
While conceding that it received a host of comments urging preservation of the 90-year-old trees in the county’s California Environmental Quality Act review of the project, the department warns it will “recommend termination of the project if the northern group of eucalyptus trees cannot be removed.”
In an 11-page CEQA comment evaluation memo, the department makes the case that the trees would pose a danger to users of the yet-to-be constructed 4.2-mile segment of multi-use trail connecting Eureka and Arcata, as the trail would fall within 10 to 15 feet of the trees, between the railroad tracks and the highway.
“Trail users would be situated within the failure zone of many elevated limbs measuring 6 to 12 inches in diameter and weighing hundreds of pounds,” states the memo, citing the county’s Hazard Tree Plan and the Tree Risk Assessment, which apparently sets the national standard for such decisions.
The memo also includes newspaper accounts of several eucalyptus-related horror stories: the tree that fell on a wedding party, killing a 61-year-old grandmother, in Whittier last year; a woman seriously injured by a falling 10-foot branch while walking with her boyfriend in San Diego in 2013; and a 4-year-old girl killed on a playground in Highland Park by a falling tree limb in 1990. At least a couple of the stories include reports of resulting lawsuits.
In all, the department is recommending removal of 219 trees — or 42 percent of the entire row.