P.G. butterfly defenders take city to task over another tree cutting.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Pacific Grove City Manager Tom Frutchey set off a flurry of angry butterfly advocates when he authorized the city's arborist to cut down a boxed eucalyptus tree Oct. 20.
The tree was one of dozens brought to P.G.'s Monarch Grove Sanctuary in what has become known as "Operation Pacelli," an effort led by monarch activist Bob Pacelli (and later sanctioned by the city) to plug holes left by an overzealous fall 2009 pruning job in the critical monarch butterfly overwintering habitat.
The eucalyptus in question "was infested with an insect pest called Lerps," Frutchey explained in an email. "We can't affort this pest to spread in the Sanctuary and infest either the other new eucs or our existing stand of Blue Gum trees."
Some members of the Western Monarchs email group reacted angrily, alleging the city manager violated a city code that states any pruning done in the sanctuary needs the City Council's OK.
"It seems that Tom Frutchey hates Monarch butterflies!" wrote a member who goes by Albert Shark.
Others questioned whether the lerp psyllids posed enough of a threat to warrant cutting the tree.
"Before the knee-jerk reaction to destroy the euc," writes Esther Trosow in a group e-mail, "it might have been wise to consult [habitat specialist] Stuart Weiss and other experts."
Frutchey reiterated that the tree was too infested to survive and a threat to neighboring trees. He pledged that the city would replace the eucalyptus at the end of the monarch overwintering season.
Meanwhile, Pacelli reports, the monarchs are showing up: He photographed clusters on the sanctuary's oaks and pines, despite the recent wind and rain.