From a The Economist magazine article and podcast:
The real California, though, the California of immigrant dreams that break and get reborn, of lives as they turn out not as they are planned, is the California of the eucalyptus.
Like his friend John Muir, Lukens believed that California desperately needed more forests. Since the mid-19th century forests, and their loss, had been the principal focus of conservationist thought in America. According to Jared Farmer, who traces the history of the eucalyptus in California in “Trees in Paradise” (2013), Lukens and Muir were particularly keen on growing forests as a way to provide water—always a key to power in the state. Trees brought rain and captured fog and moisture; without forests, the men feared the state’s great cities would dry up.
“EUCALYPTUS PROMISES TO BE GREAT INDUSTRY”, announced the front page of the San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram, later claiming that what the speculators following where Lukens had led were planting “will be the largest artificial forest in the world when completed”.