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Fire Prevention Action Needs Volunteers
August 9, 2012 -
Ecological restoration work is one of the most effective methods for preventing intense wildfires and protecting neighborhoods in the wildland-urban interface of Southern California, a region afflicted by some of the most catastrophic wildfires in U.S. history.
Restoring the ecosystem by planting and caring for native trees and plants in the Santa Monica Mountains helps to slow water evaporation and retain soil moisture. In addition, as trees and plants transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture. These are essential ecological services during the dry fire season that protect everyone who lives in the area.
In areas where trees and native plants have been replaced by invasive weeds, the non-native plants that are not adapted to the dry climate act as fuel for fires. Many of these invasive species are fire prone, so TreePeoples work in restoring the mountains by weeding out invasive plants and replacing them with native species is crucial to reducing the frequency and intensity of fires.
In addition, native trees neither burn as quickly nor severely as invasive non-native species. Native plant communities like chaparral and perennial grasslands regenerate quickly thanks to their deep root systems that keep soil from eroding after a fire. Hence the chance of a landslide or water pollution from sediment is much lower when an ecosystem has a healthy, diverse community of native species.
PLAN OF ACTION
Throughout the dry summer fire season, TreePeople hosts volunteer ecological restoration events most weekends in Calabasas, Topanga, and Agoura Hills led by TreePeoples Brian Rekart and Cody Chappel. TreePeople has been leading these events with Mountains Restoration Trust, a partnership that began in 2008.
In project teams of 15-150 volunteers ranging from preschool age children to seniors, volunteers remove invasive plants to increase the diversity of the native plants in the area, plant native vegetation, and care for native plants.
Join TreePeoples and the Mountains Restoration Trust in Topanga Creek on August 19 for the next restoration event. Help care for the creekside native vegetation that has been planted to restore this area. The focus will be on watering and weeding to vanquish non-native invasive plants (weeds).