To Supervisor Desmond...
Last updated 1/17/2023 at 12:18pm
Email sent to Supervisor Jim Desmond
Supervisor Jim Desmond,
I am writing to ask for help in preserving our native natural palm trees in Borrego Springs. You are probably aware that Cal Fire has taken over our small local fire department. Representatives have sent letters to many residents demanding that our palm skirts be removed. I wrote a letter to Cal Fire to plead for keeping this native wildlife habitat and I have attached for you to read. I received a prompt reply from Battalion Chief Alex Elward. He basically said that the county ordinance must be followed.
I am asking that you to please give Borrego Springs an exemption from the defensible space ordinance. This is a solution in search of a problem. The desert is a much different ecosystem than forest or chaparral. Rocks don’t burn. No home or structure has ever been lost to a wildfire in the desert. We have never had a red flag day and we are not designated in any fire zone. At the very least I would ask that a written fire assessment from the State forestry agency be done and an Environmental Impact Study be done before we denude all our trees.
Trimming all our palm skirts would be a catastrophic loss of habitat for birds and bats and removes a food source for mammals like coyote and foxes. It would have long term significant adverse effect on our local and migrating wildlife.
The Washingtonia filifera (California Native Fan Palm) is the only native Palm in California. The trunks are naturally fire resistant. Palm groves have been mapped in California because of their importance. The city of Palm Springs has 1,700 native and historic palms that are maintained with the skirts on. This is more in keeping with our desert.
Please at least put a pause on the destruction until more fire and biological information can be gathered. Nesting season is just around the corner. Implementing this ordinance here is basically desert deforestation. There may be as many as 1,000 native palms in and around the houses.
Cal Fire is holding two meetings at our library for the community to ask questions January 19 and February 7. A response from you or your attendance would be very much appreciated.