If people are interested in more facts about early Laguna, here are some:
When the first settlers arrived in the area we now call Laguna Beach, they were told in order to stake a claim, each claimant had to plant 40 trees—hence the somewhat good guess as to how many trees were originally planted, as recently offered in a letter to the editor. Of course, the population then is nowhere what it is today (over 20,000, of course 1,000,000 or more visitors did not visit this area every summer, nor were houses/businesses built so close together).
So, did these folks sit down and consider what types of trees to plant or even consult an arborist or landscape architect? No, not likely—they wanted to take care of their claim quickly and probably as cheaply as possible. Voila—the eucalyptus tree fit the bill, plus maybe they could use the trees that grew so fast to make railroad ties to bring trains into town and increase access to their new homes. Wrong—the wood was too brittle, but it sure made great firewood as we have recently learned only too well. Given that this part of California’s forests were never part of the original landscape as created by nature, why do we want to replicate what the early settlers did? Of course, we would like to think that we humans are very smart and can outwit mother nature. I would have to ponder that a bit further, but on the whole, I would say definitely not. Sometimes we have acerbated a situation instead of improved it—especially by taking shortcuts. But please enjoy the early artwork—it’s certainly a wonderful way to spend time.
Ganka Brown, Laguna Beach