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HomeCommunityGoleta HistoryWoodcutters, Tree Lovers Grapple Over Ellwood Eucalyptus Massacre

Woodcutters, Tree Lovers Grapple Over Ellwood Eucalyptus Massacre

By Tom Lendino and Steve Belton, Daily Nexus, October 20, 1972

Yesterday morning [10/19/1972] at 9:15, woodcutters appeared on the eucalyptus-forested property of Walter E. Olson and Associates at the corner of Hollister and Coronado armed with chain saws. Donna Sauber, president of the Campus Glen Homeowners Association, appeared inside of 60 minutes with representatives of her own organization and the local media.

The woodcutters interrupted their work and glared at the spectators. Then the woodcutters left. When they returned fifteen minutes later, the crowd was still gathered and the would-be tree cutters left once again.

They returned at approximately 1 p.m. with a new found power; from now on the Sheriff’s Department will keep protestors off of the property so that the woodcutters will be able to work undisturbed and unintimidated.

Sauber was there trying to protect a grove of eucalyptus trees on the property, which is also the proposed site of a freeway overpass and a tentatively planned shopping center. On Wednesday, a hearing will be held on the building of the overpass since it is not now included in the general plan. If, at the time, the trees are no longer there, the Environmental Impact Statement which, according to California State laws must be filed, will not have to include the potential damage to the environment caused by removing the trees.

Sauber suspects that it is the plan of Walter E. Olson and Associates to remove the trees on their land. The Campus Glen Homeowners like the trees. Various other interested persons who appeared on the scene — among them Jim Slater, a shoo-in candidate for Supervisor of the third district, and Frank Frost, active candidate for Supervisor of the first district — are currently seeking legal means to prevent the cutting of the trees.

Walter E. Olson admitted to the Campus Glen Homeowners Association that he had given authorization some time ago for the “removal of firewood” from the property in question. It seemed apparent to the observers present yesterday morning that the chopping down of approximately one hundred trees to date is more than a firewood operation.

Phone calls have been made by the self-appointed protectors of the environment to such luminaries as Dan Grant, current Supervisor of the third district, the County Planning Commission, and even the Flood Control officials. The only visible response by authorities was the arrival of two Sheriff cars at noon yesterday, who said that they received a complaint of a group of people disturbing the peace there. The Sheriffs did not stay long; by that time the woodcutters had temporarily fled the scene.

According to Sauber, the Sheriff’s Department pursued the matter further and contacted Walter Olson. He admitted to them that the woodcutters were operating with his permission. The NEXUS attempted to contact Olson but he was not available for comment.

Sauber feels that their only recourse now is through legal action or public support generated through publicity of what seems to be an attempt to circumvent an environmental impact statement which conceivably might halt the development of a freeway overcrossing and thus the shopping center planned by Walter Olson and Associates.

Frank Frost, candidate for Supervisor in the first district, was in Ellwood yesterday to survey the destruction. (Tom Lendino/Daily Nexus photo)
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