You Can Prevent Forest Fires & Have Fun Doing It

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When we see fires raging, as we have too many times this year already, it’s natural to feel helpless. We’re always extremely vulnerable to fires in Southern California. Within the areas surrounding the Santa Monica Mountains—from the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles to Point Mugu in Ventura County—more than half a million people are directly affected by fire danger. And this year’s fire forecast is severe.

But you don’t have to feel helpless. You can do something to curb fire danger, and get some fresh air and great exercise in some of the most beautiful parts of our local mountains.

TreePeople’s mountain restoration program, with events in the Santa Monica Mountains nearly every weekend of the year, is essential for preventing the frequency and intensity of fires. The ecological restoration work led by TreePeople and partner Mountains Restoration Trust helps prevent intense wildfires and protects neighborhoods by restoring the native ecosystem.

“We have to keep our native plants healthy and thriving, and remove invasive non-native species such as annual grasses,” says TreePeople’s Wildland Restoration Manager Cody Chappel. “The spread of highly flammable non-native species increases the frequency and severity of wildfire.” It’s a vicious cycle, he explains. “More wildfires diminish the native ecosystem further. Even though we think of the chaparral and coastal sage as a ‘fire ecology,’ without human impacts these ecosystems can go a hundred years or more without burning.”

To sum it up: “The frequent fires we have now feed more fires, and the way to turn it around is to restore the native ecosystem.”

Native plant communities such as chaparral regenerate quickly after a fire, thanks to their deep roots. Restoring the ecosystem by planting and caring for native trees and plants in the Santa Monica Mountains also helps to slow water evaporation and retain soil moisture. 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.

TreePeople sponsors volunteer ecological restoration events most weekends in Calabasas, Topanga, and Agoura Hills. Our teams have anywhere from 15 to 150 volunteers that range from preschool age children to seniors, and they join us from corporations, university organizations, religious groups, and clubs.

The efforts of concerned volunteers significantly increase the native plant population and lower the frequency and intensity of wildfire. Why not join us?

RSVP for your next volunteer opportunities:

Saturday, June 8, Calabasas http://www.treepeople.org/event/06/08/2013/santa-monica-mountains-restoration

Saturday, June 22, Agoura Hills http://www.treepeople.org/event/06/22/2013/santa-monica-mountains-restoration

Sunday, June 23, Topanga http://www.treepeople.org/event/06/23/2013/santa-monica-mountains-restoration

Emergency Response Calls to Action: www.treepeople.org/emergency-response

Text TREE + your name and e-mail address to 51555 to volunteer specifically for restoration projects with TreePeople!

 

 

Mollie Stephens came to TreePeople as a transplant from Maryland, missing the sprawling forests of the East Coast. Getting her hands dirty with TreePeople convinced her that she could make Los Angeles her new home, and her passion is matching volunteers with experiences that will connect them with their community. When she's not digging in the dirt, she enjoys cooking, reading and kayaking.