The Madrona Project would impact 131 acres of plant communities. The Project would result in the removal of 1,400 walnut trees and oak trees. It would bulldoze 18 acres of woodland and 30 acres of woodland ecotone (woodland mixed with other communities), making a total of 48 acres lost. They claim these are stunted and unhealthy trees. Perhaps the drought has something to do with this or the fact that the site has frequently burned in the recent past or the fact that it is actually not a sign of ill health for an oak tree to be short in stature. It is their nature.
The Developer's response to this destruction of 1,400 trees is to offer to plant 7,000 (mostly one gallon) trees on site. The mitigation requires 50.29 replanted acres at 2 to 1 for woodlands, and 0.5 acres for each ecotone acre bulldozed. That sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Unfortunately, natural habitat is not like a Christmas tree farm in which you cram in as many trees as will physically fit. Oak and walnut trees grow where the soil, water, and sun conditions are right. If those conditions are not right then whatever is planted will die. Knowing this already, the developers have offered to plant trees at an off-site location if there is not viable space on the Project site. But where is that off-site tree mitigation site located? At this point it does not appear to exist.
The end result is that 1,400 oak and walnut trees will be removed with no realistic chance of replacing them. These trees are not just trees – they are a community where all kinds of birds and animals live out their lives, mate and raise their young.
So what will take the place of this woodland? It will be opportunistic, fast burning non-native annuals that dry sooner, ignite easier and spread fire faster than native plants. The Final EIR states that, "since the existing natural woodland values cannot be fully replaced in the context of a developed residential community, this impact is both significant and unavoidable." Of course it is avoidable if the trees are not removed to begin with but then they couldn't bulldoze five million cubic yards of dirt.
Because it is an unavoidable, significant negative impact of the project, the Brea City Council must issue yet another Statement of Overriding Consideration (SOC) for Biology. As explained under the section on traffic the City must issue a SOC if they think the benefits to the community outweigh the negative impacts that will go on FOREVER.