***2,000 Signatures for the petition, “Ask California State Parks to Test Torrey Pine Trees for Aluminum Poisoning” were sent to California State Parks on April 25, 2019. Below is a copy of the transmittal letter, and links to the petition summary and picture.***
To Darren Smith, Natural Resource Program Manager, San Diego Coast District, California State Parks
Here are 2,000 signatures/supporters for the petition, “Ask California State Parks to Test Torrey Pine Trees for Aluminum Poisoning”, attached. I am sending these signatures to you because Robin Greene, District Superintendent, San Diego Coast District, California State Parks, told me in this letter of July 2016, to go through you.
The first thing that should be done is figure out what the fungal damage shown in this attachment is. It’s prominent in and near the golf course, and to a lesser extent throughout the Reserve. In April, 2018, I took samples of it on 5 separate occasions to the San Diego County Plant Pathology Lab for analysis. They couldn’t figure out what it was. These are their analyses, samples 1-5. Then on November 14, 2018, I presented it to the San Diego Community Forest Advisory Board. They didn’t know what it was and didn’t want it looked into. This is that presentation. Note that San Diego Botanical Gardens think their Torrey Pine trees are being damaged by blue stain fungal pathogens (while I think the damage at the Reserve and golf course looks like pitch canker disease.) City Councilmember Barbara Bry ignores this issue. The reason for wanting to identify it, is that it’s probably working in a symbiotic community with beetles to kill the trees.
Second, test and investigate aluminum levels and damage. Soluble aluminum can be absorbed into trees and turn their roots brittle. This is the analysis of a sample of condensed fog I collected by shaking tree branches in the Reserve after a fog, which shows extremely high aluminum content (130 times higher than drinking water standards allow). And these analyses show more aluminum than should be expected in rainwater, tree bark and tree roots. This paper went through an extensive peer review process and concluded aluminum contamination and increasing UV radiation are primary drivers of the die-off. It states that aluminum (and other contaminants) from the sky settle on pine needles along with acid fog. The water portion of the fog then evaporates leaving the contaminants more concentrated. After several cycles, the contaminants can become very concentrated and create an environment attractive to fungus and beetles.
And third, it should be made known to the public that the original diagnosis of drought and beetles was based only on observation of beetles, and no “blood test” of the trees was ever taken to determine what might be the cause of the beetle infestation. Now that test results, a peer reviewed paper, and photos have been provided, much more can be understood about the underlying causes. An example of how the public could be informed might be to add this sentence to the beetle trap displays, “These beetles are made possible to be here, in part, because of high aluminum levels in and on our trees.”
Attached is a picture of the petition signatures in front of a few of our dead Torrey Pine trees. These supporters are the real champions of our environment. We hope to eventually convince authorities to do the right thing and allow a lab test for our sick and ignored trees.
copies: see list here