Helping Our Peninsula's Environment
Why Must We Protect Jeffers Forest?

(c) Copyright 1994-2004 David Dilworth

  • Our Native Monterey Pine and its Forest Ecosystem is Imperiled. 
  • Monterey Pine is Locally Important. 
  • Monterey Pine is Internationally Important. 
  • Jeffers is the Healthiest Native Monterey Pine Forest. 

The Monterey Pine and its Forest is Endangered

The magnificent dark green cloak covering our Monterey Peninsula is, by far, the largest and healthiest remaining native Monterey pine forest left in the world. 

Only two other small native forests remain, one in Cambria (south of Big Sur) the other at Ano Nuevo (just north of Santa Cruz). There are also two tiny remnants of a two needle subspecies on two Mexican islands - Cedros and Guadelupe. In 1900 native populations existed on California's Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands, but are now locally extinct. It is likely that 99.99 percent of the pine's genetic diversity exists in the three native populations.

Something is wrong in our Monterey Pine forest.

Because of its decline and importance, in 1986 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared Monterey Pine an Endangered Species. This was before anyone realized the threat of Pine Pitch Canker. In the 1990's California's Department of Fish and Game put Monterey Pine on its "Special Plants List" after California Native Plants Society strengthened its concern about the threats to Monterey Pine in 1994 by rating it "1B". The only stronger rating is "1A" which means the species is extinct or lost forever! 

As recently as 1800 there were over 16,000 acres of healthy, native Monterey pine worldwide. As of 2003 there may be less than 1,100 acres of healthy, forest ecosystem - possibly less than 800 acres. 

These side-by side maps show how the Monterey pine once covered the Monterey Peninsula - and now only a skeleton of that formerly majestic native Monterey pine forest ecosystem is left.

Development is the primary cause, and remains a large, real threat.

Development of roads and houses in Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Cambria and Carmel have caused a major loss of the original Monterey Pine native habitat.

Pebble Beach Company's (owned by Clint Eastwood, Peter Ueberroth and Arnold Palmer) new proposal to develop a golf course, houses and hotels covering over a square mile of this forest would cause the loss of the best remaining Monterey Pine forests left in the world.

Disease is also a real, current threat.

"It is probably too early to know how scared we should be, but it looks like it [Pitch Canker] might be dangerous." U. C. Berkeley's Prof. William Libby, April 27, 1994 Letter.

Experts predict as much as 85% of remaining Monterey pine will be lost to Pitch Canker.

Monterey Pine is Locally Important.

Imagine our Monterey Peninsula without its dark green cloak of Monterey Pine Forest.

Jeffers Forest is the largest remaining natural forest on the Monterey Peninsula and may contain the tree's greatest genetic diversity.

Monterey Pine is Internationally Important.

Monterey Pine is a $10 Billion industry worldwide. It is probably the most valuable commercially grown tree in the world (Douglas fir are is a
larger market wolrdwide, but most aren't grown in tree farms).

Monterey Pine tree farms are so productive they reduce the need for New Zealand to cut their native forests. Logging of all New Zealand natural forests had essentially stopped in 1995.

Also in 1995, New Zealand's Minister of Forestry, John Falloon, wrote Monterey County asking for protection of our Monterey pine forest.

Monterey Pine is Ecologically Important.

Every 40 Acres of Monterey Pine Saves 1 Species

"For every 40 acres of radiata [Monterey] Pine harvested and entered in world trade, the extinction of one species in a tropical rainforest will be prevented or at least delayed." - June 23, 1994 letter to Monterey County Supervisor Sam Karas - from Professor William J Libby (One of the World's top Experts on Monterey Pine), U.C. Berkeley Department of Forestry and Resource Management.

"The substitution of wood from radiata pine plantations for wood from tropical rainforests is perhaps the most effective and important positive environmental action being taken this decade." Id.

Jeffers is the Best Monterey Pine Forest.

"[Jeffers Forest / Pescadero Canyon] may be the purest of all the mainland radiata [Monterey] Pine stands." U. C. Berkeley's Prof. William Libby, April 27, 1994 Letter.

"...based on my knowledge to date, this population of Monterey pines [Jeffers Forest / Pescadero Canyon] is the least disturbed of any that now exists." June 23, 1994 letter to Monterey County Supervisor Sam Karas - from Professor William J Libby

"it [Jeffers Forest / Pescadero Canyon] may be the best remaining subpopulation that could continue to evolve in a natural manner." Id.

"The Pescadero Canyon subpopulation appears to be the best current short-term source for scientific study and to supply genetic resources for Earth's productive radiata pine [Monterey pine] plantations." Id.


Small Monterey Pine Forest is National Treasure

Is Internationally Valuable,

Is Threatened by Pebble Beach Company, and

Must be a Permanent Preserve.

In spite of the valuable ecological value of the tiny remnants of Monterey pine forest the Pebble Beach Company (PBC) plans to develop essentially all their remaining property in Del Monte Forest on the Monterey Peninsula in California which is known for its beauty as a forest by the sea.

If approved, it would be the largest single development ever on the Monterey Peninsula in homes, acreage and amount of Monterey Pine forest destroyed.

The project would increase the population of Pebble Beach by 1000 people, create at least 15 subdivisions, over 300 homes and a huge golf course all totaling over One square mile in area. For reference, Carmel, the city next door does not quite cover an area of one square mile.


To build the golf course the Pebble Beach Company intends to destroy the 250 acre Jeffers Forest in Pescadero Canyon. According to experts Jeffers Forest may be the largest healthy, genetically diverse native Monterey Pine forest in the world.

Jeffers' Forest was named for the renowned Carmel poet Robinson Jeffers who lived within walking distance and frequented the forest. One critic referred to Jeffers as "the greatest poet since Homer."

Only three native Monterey Pine Forests remain - Ano Nuevo, Cambria and at Monterey. Jeffers Forest, a subset of the Monterey Peninsula's native Monterey pine forest , is somewhat smaller than the Ano Nuevo forest, but Ano Nuevo has been logged in the past and has some genetic contamination. The only other significant native stand, in Cambria, is under severe stress with a high incidence of dwarf mistletoe and gall rust and has extensive infestations of bark beetle.


Although native Monterey Pine are no longer used for timber, Monterey Pine expert University of California Prof. William Libby says that worldwide, the hybridized Monterey Pine at 10 Billion (Yes - that's right Billion) dollars in 1993 is perhaps the most valuable commercially grown (as opposed to cut wild) tree.

According to former Pacific Grove Museum Director Vern Yadon "the Monterey Pine is logically destined to be the most important temperate region timber species available for the future of civilization."

Those commercially grown trees come from tree farms. Tree farms only use hybrid seeds and are clearly not forests with a diverse ecosystem. Hybrid trees and plants are more likely to die from new, occasional or rare diseases.

Because of tree farms New Zealand has been able to essentially stop all logging in their native forests. They now log from tree farms (almost entirely Monterey Pine) which cover an area only one fifth the size of their remaining native forests. According to Dr. Libby logging from tree farms continuously produces about ten times as much wood as cutting native tropical forests.

The significance of the Jeffers Forest is made clearer by Monterey Herald Columnist Bruce Cowan "In recent decades disease hit the domesticated tomato and corn crops in the U.S. and threatened to devastate our agriculture. Fortunately, wild tomato plants still existed in Peru, and the wild ancestor of corn in Mexico. Genes were found in these wild populations that proved resistant to the diseases."

Monterey Pines have just recently come under attack by Pine Pitch Canker. The Jeffers Forest may be the only remaining native Monterey Pine forest where non-native hybridized Monterey Pines do not grow within 1000 feet. It is probably the best, and perhaps the only, perpetual source of wild genetically diverse Monterey Pine seeds.


An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been prepared so the public and public officials can understand the impacts of the Pebble Beach Company's project on our forest.

The recognized impacts published in the EIR include: 

  • "ENDANGERMENT TO THE MONTEREY PINE SPECIES ITSELF", (PB Lot Program DEIR April 6, 1994 page 1-3)  
  • "Significant and unavoidable impacts to Monterey Pine forest and associated habitat",  
  • loss of "57,000 trees or more",  
  • the loss of endangered species Hickman's Onion and (newly F-ESA listed) Yadon's Piperia orchid 
  • and the loss of wildlife habitat including that of Monarch Butterflies. 
Other impacts include significantly increased Traffic congestion, Water and Sewerage interruptions, increased Noise, damaged aesthetics and air quality. The water interruptions would impact the ability to fight fires.


You may find it interesting to note that nine out of the first ten forest related reports used by the EIR were contracted by and paid for by (who else) the Pebble Beach Company.

Some impacts that are NOT included in the EIR: significant loss of a rare, valuable and endangered living forest along with its ecosystem and million year old soil; and how this project would sever most of the remaining wildlife forest corridors in Pebble Beach. This buildout would leave the few remaining trees as islands of wildlife deserts.

Other impacts not addressed include the loss of silence as a resource within the forest, loss of California Red-legged frog habitat, and how much revenue Monterey County would realize as a result of each subdivision.

It is significant that a wildlife survey was NOT performed - only a analysis of the probability that certain animals live there was done.


The EIR tries to disguise the significance of this wild living forest by calling it an "Urban Forest". An "Urban Forest" is a forest canopy with houses and roads underneath. The Jeffers Forest is not an urban forest. It is a fully functioning, healthy living ecosystem.

Consisting of thousands of undisturbed organisms from the million year old soil under the soft, thick forest duff covered with diverse floor vegetation including wild purple Irises up through multiple canopies of coast live oak and Monterey Pines.

An urban forest is home to very little wildlife. Jeffers Forest is home to hundreds if not thousands of animals. It is significant that neither a wildlife survey or census was performed - only a probability analysis (a guess based on types of vegetation and trees) was done. The report also failed to mention any of the 20 or so Redwood trees living in Pescadero Canyon.


What's the good news? Well, Monterey County Supervisors have several options. They don't have to approve the project exactly as Pebble Beach Company wants it. In fact because of the impacts they don't have to approve the project at all.

Our Supervisors can refuse to allow the golf course. A Golf Course is not allowed by the existing Coastal Plan. The average size of a U.S. Golf Course is 120 acres. The one proposed is 250 acres.

Doing so would preserve the world's largest pristine native Monterey Pine Forest. The County could turn the Jeffers Forest into a preserve - like the Samuel F.B. Morse Preserve near Congress Road.

Unfortunately the Supervisors fiercely support development and find protecting habitats distasteful. Edith Johnsen and Judy Pennycook both reapproved Rancho San Carlos - even after their own constituents resoundingly voted it down. In 2001 Supervisor Dave Potter accompanied Pebble Beach Company owner Clint Eastwood and infamous Land Use Attorney Tony Lombardo to visit the three Sacramento politicians who make all Coastal Commission appointments - Governor Davis, and the Speakers of the Senate and Assembly.

In spite of that -

Jeffers Forest will be Protected.

For more information or to inquire about native Monterey pine forest ecosystem walks call: David Dilworth 831 624 6500, Info(at), or write: Box 1495, Carmel, CA 93921


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This Page Last Updated 2/11/04