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PYGMY FOREST THREATENED BY TOURISM.

Byline: Associated Press

Cars have been banned from a Mendocino Coast pygmy forest, an ancient stand of dwarf trees that foresters say is being destroyed by tourism.

The pygmy forest, a 460-acre collection of stunted cypress trees located between Fort Bragg and Mendocino on California's north coast, developed over thousands of years from soil depleted of nutrients. The trees, which grow no more than four feet in 50 years, are a rare biological phenomenon attracting scientists worldwide.

But the more than 70,000 annual visitors to the Jughandle State Reserve, who follow the 2-1/2-mile Ecological Staircase Trail from the sea to the grove, are trampling the fragile forest, state park officials said.

Foresters erected barricades last year, but some were vandalized and others were useless in keeping visitors off the vegetation, said Tina Fabula, a park ecologist.

``We just let it go, so the vehicles are coming in again,'' she said.

Even a 2,000-foot-long boardwalk built last winter was damaged by improper use, officials said.
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Title Annotation:TRAVEL
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 4, 1997
Words:167
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