Arborist taps genetics to save giant redwoods

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The workers clipped boughs from some of the preserve’s oldest and tallest trees to get genetically pure samples of some of nature’s ultimate survivors. Milarch, 58, believes these trees can provide the toughest possible stock for a kind of “genetic savings account.” He hopes that material can be used to restore old-growth redwoods in their native range up and down the state. About 95percent of the original forest has been cut down over the past few hundred years. Average mature redwoods stand between 200 and 240 feet tall and have diameters of 10 to 15 feet. The tallest trees have been measured at more than 370 feet, making coast redwoods the tallest living organisms in the world. The hardiest members of the species can live to be 2,000 years old. Redwoods have gained a prized status among nature lovers, but their high-quality timber has long been favored by home builders seeking the same durability that allows the trees to survive in the wild, which has led to widespread harvesting. Milarch said coast redwoods can reproduce themselves through a natural cloning process and by mating with other trees. A tree like Grandma could effectively be the latest incarnation of an individual tree that first saw daylight 20,000 years ago, he said. “If we’re going to pick out the strongest, longest-lived genetics, this old gal’s a survivor,” Milarch said. Horticulturists and genetic engineers plan to use the samples from the Marin County redwoods to see which of several techniques – some traditional, some cutting-edge – work best to reproduce the trees. Milarch has high hopes for the most advanced approach, known as tissue culturing, which creates exact genetic replicas by manipulating individual cells. Not everyone agrees that cloning represents the most effective way to preserve redwoods. Conservation groups have traditionally focused on curbing development and logging along the 500-mile stretch from Big Sur to the Oregon state line where most coast redwoods grow. “Protecting the habitat of the species in place – I think that’s the most important approach to conservation,” said Deborah Rogers, a redwood geneticist and director of conservation science for the San Diego County-based Center for Natural Lands Management. Rogers said a genetic storehouse that could protect the entire species from an unforeseen cataclysm caused by climate change or an imported disease would require samples from hundreds of trees across the state. Milarch hopes that samples from about 20 individual trees taken from ancient redwood stands in five distinct areas will be enough to get his restoration effort under way. Next he plans to solicit landowners and communities for plots of at least five acres where the clones will be planted and, ideally, interbreed.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN GERONIMO, Calif. – When David Milarch first visited Northern California in 1968, he thought he would see avenues of coast redwoods 100 miles long. What he found instead was a “moonscape,” he said. Nearly 40 years later, the Michigan arborist has returned to the region to realize his dream of preserving and restoring the most ancient of these trees using the latest advances in genetic cloning. “What does this tree’s immune system have in it that it has survived when other trees haven’t?” Milarch asked, leaning against a massive, shaggy trunk of a redwood he’s dubbed “Grandma.” He estimates the tree is at least 800 years old. On a foggy Tuesday in Marin County, about 25 miles north of San Francisco, Milarch assembled a team of crack tree climbers who used ropes and harnesses to clamber more than 100 feet into the treetops at Roy’s Redwoods Preserve. last_img read more

Vote for Measure R to restore integrity

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’By allowing City Council members to serve an additional four years, Measure R would give elected officials more time to make a difference and an opportunity to tackle the big issues. Measure R would also amend the City Charter to create powerful restrictions on lobbyists and bring an end to special interests’ access to City Hall. These restrictions include prohibiting free gifts to elected officials, tightening controls on campaign contributions and imposing tough reforms on contract bidders. In addition, Measure R would ban lobbyists from being appointed to any city board or commission. By passing Measure R, voters will ensure that lobbyists will no longer be able to “buy votes” at City Hall. Measure R would stop special-interest groups from influencing city officials by toughening disclosure rules for millions of dollars of independent expenditures made in elections and requiring greater disclosure by candidates in all political advertisements. It would also increase restrictions on former elected officials’ ability to lobby the city after leaving government service, and require current officials, their staffs, and city commissioners to attend mandatory ethics training. A vote for Measure R is an opportunity to rein in the special-interest groups and bring an end to the “pay to play” era at City Hall. IN 1993, as a mayoral candidate, I urged residents of Los Angeles to support term limits for all citywide elected officials. I was right then – about the need to eliminate career politicians in city government by creating a fixed term of service. And I am right again today, when I urge you to support Measure R to extend City Council service from two to three terms and reform ethics rules to bring integrity back to City Hall. Term limits remain essential to a healthy government. They prevent politicians from getting too comfortable. They enforce accountability, and require elected officials to deliver on their promises. However, the two-term limit at City Hall has created a high-speed revolving door, eliminating institutional knowledge and the historical perspective integral to tackling complex civic problems. Currently, the longest-serving member of the council has been there only seven years. Seven other members are due to be forced out of office in 2009, and five more in 2011. Today’s eight-year limit discourages long-term government commitment to major city problems such as tackling traffic congestion or increasing public safety. Elected officials are reluctant to invest their time and resources into ongoing projects that they will never see completed or consider a political risk. The constant changing of council leadership, focus and priorities results in the abandonment of citywide efforts and district-specific projects. Ethics reform at City Hall is long overdue, and Measure R is the answer. Extending term limits combined with increased restrictions on lobbyists and campaign contributions would protect City Council members from the influence of special interests and afford them the time to do their jobs ethically and effectively. I urge you to vote yes for Measure R on Nov. 7. Bring integrity back to City Hall. Richard Riordan is a former mayor of Los Angeles.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more