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Del Mar and its Southern Maritime Chaparral

Updated: Oct 8, 2022

The Southern California coastline is home to an endangered habitat called the southern maritime chaparral. The maritime chaparral takes advantage of the fog belt that surrounds our coast. Plants and trees such as the Torrey Pine are able to absorb enough water from the fog to survive our dry summers. This plant community is made up of many endangered species, including the Del Mar manzanita, short-leaved liveforever and the mariposa lily.

Unfortunately 90% of the southern maritime chaparral has been destroyed due to suburban development. Making our own habitat even rarer, is the fact that the Torrey Pine is native only to the Del Mar area and Santa Rosa Island. In fact, the Torrey Pine is the rarest species of pine in the United States.

Because of low genetic variability, the Torrey Pine has little capacity to respond to change through natural selection. As such, it is extremely susceptible to changes in the environment including pollution, global warming and beetle infestation. The Torrey Pine Tree is now categorized as a risk category 1 according to the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program Covered Species Prioritization. Of course, the Torrey Pine is not the only tree to suffer from climate change and beetle infestation. In the past 8 years, Southern California has lost 147.6 million trees. In 2016 alone, California lost 16 million trees.

I’m only thirteen years old (now 16), but I am old enough to appreciate the fact that if things keep going as they are, there won’t be much left when I get older and have kids of my own. We live in a very special place that needs our help.

Did you know that Del Mar is the only beach town in Southern California with a natural forest? These trees are beautiful and deserve our protection. You can help protect our local forest and maritime chaparral by planting local natives (including Torrey Pines which are available at local nurseries) and keeping the ones you have safe and protected. In the coming months we will be working with the city to replace lost trees and native plants in our open spaces, including the site above Anderson Canyon. With our recent rains, it is a great time to plant natives. I hope you join us in saving our southern maritime chaparral. For more information you can contact volunteer@nativedelmar.org.


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