Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tale of an old Christmas tree farm in the Badlands



The Transit Coalition ran across a very minor, but interesting piece of recent history during a study. We were looking at the satellite aerial imagery of the 60 Freeway corridor through the Badland hills in between Moreno Valley and Beaumont and checking out what kinds of rail and highway work would need to be done to prevent this freeway from being congested or bottlenecking at either end of the wildlife corridor should the World Logistics Center warehouse hub proposal in Moreno Valley become real. During the study, we ran across something that appeared natural but was actually planted by man not too long ago.

On the south side of the expressway portion of Highway 60 just east of the Jack Rabbit Trail intersection, there are some rural properties with sections of naturally growing pine trees. These pines are actually not part of the natural ecosystem nor simple landscaping, but are healthy trees that were left to grow from an old Christmas tree farm. In the late 1980's through the 90's, one of our volunteers who was a child back then passed through the Badlands regularly and remembered when the farm was in its robust state. A 2011 Google Street View snapshot currently shows an old Christmas tree farm entry sign posted at the property gate. Today, the farm is out of business, but the pine trees themselves continue to grow, mature and have become adapted to the natural ecosystem given the presence of a nearby creek and plenty of groundwater.

The groves are on private property and cannot be visited without permission from the owners, but if you ride along through this area regularly or take bus Route 35, 210 or 220, take a peak over on the south side of the 60 just east of Jack Rabbit Trail and take note of a small, but growing Inland Empire pine tree ecosystem several years in the making with each tree originally destined to end up in the living rooms of the Inland Empire.

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