TreePeople: Topanga Creek
Join resisterhoodLA + TreePeople as we return Topanga Creek to its historic natural beauty. We will restore habitat for deer, wildcats, endangered turtles and endangered Southern California steelhead trout! Help us restore biological function to this critical waterway by planting ecosystem specific trees and plants and removing invasive, introduced plant species.
THIS EVENT IS ALL AGES:
Volunteers of all ages are welcome! Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. People under the age of 18 not accompanied by their parent or guardian must provide a parental consent form at the event. (Download)
WHAT TO BRING:
Don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and put on plenty of sunscreen.
WHAT TO WEAR:
Please wear rugged, outdoor, clothes including a hat, work gloves, and shoes.
When it came time for me to pick an organization for our June event, I struggled a bit. There are so many worthy causes and organizations, and most of them resonate with me. How do you pick just one? So, I thought, “What has always lived in my heart and is the essence of who I am?” Eureka! The ENVIRONMENT!
I first found TreePeople through the Burbank Recycle Center. The center has regular community events on sustainability, and one of theses events was a composting workshop where TreePeople spoke with us about the importance of, you guessed it, composting. When I saw that TreePeople were having an event in June, I jumped at the chance to participate with them.
On June 24, a group of about 30 resisterhoodLA volunteers met up in Malibu for an exciting event of working outside in the mountainous terrain right next to the Pacific Ocean. The day begin with hanging out in the back of my Honda CR-V getting hydrated, meeting new volunteers and preparing our minds and bodies for the day’s event. I particularly love how some of us showed up in the same clothes sprinkled with blue paint from the Compton Initiative event back in January.
Before we got started on our micro-journey to the field location, we heard a little safety briefing of what to expect while working in Topanga Creek. Snakes and other critters could be seen while we explore the floodplain, but sadly or thankfully (depending on your likeness of critters) we never ran into one. In addition, Cody from the TreePeople reminded us that the Los Angeles area is an arid or Mediterranean climate not a desert climate and taught us why the Santa Monica Mountains are so important. I learned that this mountain range is the “lungs” of Los Angeles County. For every inch of rain, LA flushes 3.8 billion gallons of water into the ocean. (source) Most of that water is filtered through the Santa Monica Mountains before reaching the Pacific. That’s incredible!
After our morning briefing, we started our descend into the heart of Topanga Creek. The creek was non-existent to the naked eye, but it still flowed beneath us as we walked over its dry and rocky riverbed. When we reached the site, we were welcomed by an open space that reminded us that the wilderness still existed in Los Angeles County. Seriously, this place looked like Jurassic Park.
During this environmental shindig, we watered some newly planted trees and ripped out some crazy huge radish plants that are invasive to this area. At one point, I felt like I was watching a symphony. The sound of the water filling up the green buckets, the laughter of the volunteers carrying away their buckets of sloshing water, the excited voices hollering out the three-digit number of the tree they just watered and Cody’s always electrified reminders about why we are here. Cody definitely kept us entertained.
Everyone was so excited to water the trees and remove the invasive plant species. I especially enjoyed scavenging the area for any missing trees. I think all of us were determined to water every tree on their list. At one point, one of the TreePeople employees mentioned to me that resisterhoodLA was the best group they’ve seen volunteer for this event. Our excitement for nature was noticed.
What we did that day was amazing, and I am so thankful for all the volunteers that chose to spend their Sunday with resisterhoodLA and TreePeople in the woods. We helped restore the Santa Monica Mountains back to its natural habitat by allowing the native plant species, deer, wildcats and even the snakes regain their territory. We helped life grow in the Topanga Creek area, but we also helped the over 10 million people living in Los Angeles County breath a little bit better.
Contributed by Stephanie Jablonski, Environmental Specialist, Activist, and June event organizer.
TreePeople started over 40 years ago by a teenager who wanted to plant trees in the San Bernardino Forest. Since then, over 3 million people have been involved in planting and caring for more than 3 million trees. In addition, over 2,000 pounds of debris have been removed from local mountains and 190,000 gallons of local storm water have been captured to radically reshape Los Angeles’s dependence on imported water.
For more information about TreePeople, check out their website at www.treepeople.org/ or follow them on social media.