35th anniversary of Torrey Pines Extension marked


The Torrey pine trees have gone down this road before. This year the state of California has cut park funds, leaving their reserve vulnerable, but in 1964 the trees faced much worse. Try bulldozers.

Saturday’s “35th Anniversary of the Torrey Pines State Reserve Extension” celebrated the victory over those bulldozers. A few hundred people gathered for the event at Del Mar Heights Elementary School.

Peter Jensen, president of the Torrey Pines Association, which sponsored the event along with the Torrey Pines Docent Society, told the story of how the nearby patches of canyon became known as “the Extension.”

It was Robert and Gloria Bates who, out walking in their Del Mar Heights neighborhood, noticed bulldozers ready to clear some mature Torrey pines for the construction of a road. Groves at the main reserve, south of Los Penasquitos Lagoon, had already been protected, but here they were slated to be razed for development. The Torrey Pines Association, formed in 1950, along with other conservation groups, then started a national campaign to preserve the trees and incorporate them into the park.

After $700,000 was raised to match the $900,000 allocated by the state, land was purchased and victory was claimed, 10 years later.

Some of the people who fought for the extension back then made it to the 35th anniversary celebration. As they reminisced, children learned why the 168-acre extension was worth saving in the first place.

A variety of wild animals live there, including predatory birds and snakes, some of which were brought to the event by handling experts. The children let the snakes wrap around their arms and watched the owls rotate their heads.

California State Parks environmental scientist Darren Smith was on hand. He spoke to Del Mar resident and landscape architect Adam Gevanthor about invasive species along the extension’s fringes.

“What we do on the edges also needs to be sensitively thought about,” Gevanthor said.

Homes that line the perimeter of the extension must watch their water use, as runoff can affect the reserve. Vickie Driver, of Friends of the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, gave advice on how to adapt landscaping to the water situation. Awards were also given to homeowners with habitat-friendly landscaping.