Protecting the iconic Monterey Cypress trees in the North Dunes

UPDATE 5/09/18

After the City of Carmel stated that they 'fully intend to carry out tree succession planting of Monterey Cypress in the corridor adjacent to Ocean Avenue in the North Dunes,’ the Coastal Commission appeal was dropped. The Coastal Commission will be reviewing  the project when it is up for renewal. See Carmel Pine Cone article.

WHAT YOU CAN DO Speak up! Contact the Coastal Commission at:

California Coastal Commission
Central Coast District Office
725 Front Street, Suite 300
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

UPDATE 3/30/18

Maria Sutherland has appealed the City Council's decision to the Coastal Commission as a private citizen. See Carmel Pine Cone article.

UPDATE 3/07/18

  • RESULTS: The City Council voted to remove 21 trees + 10 more trees > 8" at the biologist's discretion. They voted to replace 3 Monterey Cypress.

UPDATE 3/06/18

UPDATE 3/05/18

  • Here are the North Dunes reports for the City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 6 at 4:30 PM.
  • Joey Capena is requesting the removal of 21 trees (17 Monterey Cypress and 4 Monterey Pines).


  • The North Dunes are located on the north side of Ocean Avenue west of San Antonio. 
  • The North Dunes are in the process of being restored to a coastal dune habitat.
  • In 2015, the City of Carmel initially attempted to hire Tom Moss, a coastal biologist who has restored the Asilomar dunes. He was not available at the time. The City then hired Joey Canepa, a plant biologist who has worked on projects for Tom Moss.
  • Friends of Carmel Forest and the group SAND have been following the process and giving input.
  • In 2017, a private citizen hired Tom Moss to create a restoration plan. See Tom Moss' proposal here.


  • Joey Capena is requesting the removal of 20 trees (18 Monterey Cypress and 2 Monterey Pines). See Joey Canepa's proposal here. Yes, a federally endangered plant and a legless lizard are involved.
  • Friends of Carmel Forest and Carmel's former forester created an alternative proposal that allows for the removal of up to 14 trees. See Friends of Carmel Forest's proposal here.
  • We do not recommend the removal of ANY healthy tree. However, in this case, several Cypress were planted to replace each historic Cypress that had died. This resulted in tight clusters that can be thinned.
  • Ideally, we would like to see these trees transplanted. However, when trees planted in sand are dug up, the sand falls away from the roots and the trees will fail. 
  • Note that the group SAND, headed by Niels Reimers, and his wife, council member Jan Reimers, are against any trees in the North Dunes. They want to remove trees for "a view to Pescadero Point."
  • On Tuesday, March 6, the City Council will vote on Joey Canepa's proposal.


  • Friends of Carmel Forest is requesting that 5-7 Cypress succession trees be planted in the historic Cypress corridor within 20 feet north of Ocean Avenue.
  • Joey Canepa has suggested replacing 3-5 Cypress in the Cypress corridor "to fill in the gaps created by senescing or removed trees."
  • The historic Cypress were originally planted by Carmel's founder, Frank Devendorf, between 1890-1905. They are between 113-128 years old. These mature beach Cypress of today are a significant historic connection to the past, a legacy from our village founder as a "Village in a Forest by-the-Sea."
  • Friends of Carmel Forest believes that it is imperative to plant the replacement Cypress during the restoration. We believe that if the Cypress trees are not planted now, they will never be. This is due to the City of Carmel's 51% tree planting success rate and past experience with replacement trees on Scenic Road.
  • Friends of Carmel Forest will offer to plant the replacement Cypress as Commemorative Trees that can be sponsored by members of the public. We will then donate the proceeds to the North Dunes restoration project. 
  • The 5-7 Cypress succession trees will continue the legacy of the Monterey Cypress on Carmel Beach. They will attract visitors from all over the world, be painted by artists, and be loved by future generations.