Letter: Eucalyptus Trees and Bike Racks

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I recently heard that scientists have discovered that koala bear milk/blood has natural peptides which enables them to ingest eucalyptus leaves (which are toxic to humans and most animals) but not to koalas. They are pursuing this fact to find out if they can use the milk to help cure some human diseases. These scientists have developed special tweezers to “milk” koalas. One scientist said that milking a koala is like trying to shave a bear with a pencil sharpener. They can milk about a thimble-full at a time.

While reading this, I thought about the many reports about the large number of sea mammals, especially seals and whales, recently found on our shores. I also thought about the eucalyptus trees in our town—many shedding leaves onto streets and then down drains to the ocean where the toxicity could be mixing in with the ocean waters. Even those eucalyptus trees that are not close to ocean, their leaves pile up on yards, etc. and with all the rain we have had, the toxins could have seeped into our soil and eventually the rain could have further washed the toxins in the soil onto our streets and to the ocean. We certainly have an overabundance of these trees and few people can keep up with the many leaves and bark that they shed. Perhaps we should rethink the role that eucalyptus plays in our ecosystem in Laguna—just the fact that these trees are highly flammable, have shallow roots, drink so much of the ground water, and are prone to falling, and many people are allergic to the oils—is reason enough. If they do contribute to putting toxins into the ocean and these lovely sea creatures are getting sick from it, is it worth it? Not in my book.

Also, regarding the bike racks at the new walking area by the city entrance. Over the years, I have only seen people driving into town and parking in this area, download their bikes from their vehicles and bike around. Then they come back, reload their bikes and leave or go get something to eat or a cup of coffee. Hopefully people will use these bike racks—the last two Saturdays, I noticed that people were continuing to park, unload, and reload.

Ganka Brown, Laguna Beach

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