First Blush

Reflections and sightings from [almost] daily jogging at dawn

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sunrise 6:09 am: High-priced Peninsula real estate for quails

Last Sunday the Dawn Joggers were walking around Woodside and saw a one-acre lot close to the town center listed for sale at just under $3.5 million. While the "quail condo" they spotted this morning at the Arastradero Preserve takes up considerably less space, it still may rank as one of the world's most expensive pieces of custom-built bird habitat. The sign explains that the "condo" was constructed because a fire in 1985 destroyed much of the native plant cover, making it difficult for quail to hide from raptors. Thus, an unnatural shelter was built until "native vegetation has grown back." All this brings up a question: how much should humans interfere with nature? And what is actually "natural?" The 600-plus-acre Arastradero Preserve was formerly a ranch, not undeveloped open space. The ranch owners, here and on other ranches and farms (like what is now Stanford University) on the Peninsula planted non-native plants, most notably eucalyptus. In fact, the same organization that built a manmade quail habitat, killed a large eucalyptus tree on the Preserve. The DJs, who make extensive many of the wonderful open space areas on the Peninsula, applaud restoration but wonder about consistency when it comes to human interference.


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