We’re seeing so many repercussions from 2013’s record dry year, and now that Governor Brown has declared a state-wide drought, cities, counties and government agencies are making decisions about how to reduce water use. But we’ve known for a long time that we need to drastically reduce the amount of water imported into the Los Angeles area, which is why we continuously call for better conservation and rainwater harvesting.
Still, despite our efforts, the current situation remains dire. Tough choices must be made.
Since 2010, we’ve led more than 9,000 volunteers in planting 30,000 trees in the Angeles National Forest. Unfortunately, our partners at the Forest Service have been forced to suspend planting in the Angeles this year, which means we can’t hold our annual Forest Aid: Angeles plantings this spring.
In a better year, we’d be planting those young saplings in moist soil, and those little trees would be watered by regular snowmelt. But since there’s been barely any precipitation in our local mountains, this year those trees would likely not survive. It doesn’t help that the soil in the Angeles is extremely fine, like sand, which makes the conditions physically impossible to plant in without significant moisture.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to take this extreme measure,” said Tom Contreras, the Angeles National Forest Supervisor of the US Forest Service. “We value our long-standing partnership with TreePeople in this important volunteer-planting effort. But the lack of rain and snow this winter make it absolutely necessary to stop the planting for this year.”
Contreras encourages those wanting to volunteer for the Angeles to visit the Angeles National Forest’s online volunteer project directory to learn about current project opportunities other than tree planting. He also urges people visiting the Angeles to be especially careful regarding fire safety.
“Please check with your local Forest Service office for current fire regulations before you go to the Forest,” Contreras said.
In addition to the effects the drought has had in our mountains, we’re also seeing a huge impact to LA’s urban forest. Young and mature trees throughout the region are not receiving the water they need to survive.
Because of their ability to lessen evaporation and to harvest rainwater, LA’s tree canopy is an important line of defense in decreasing the impact of drought. Our partners at the City of LA’s Department of Recreation and Parks have had to reduce their water use and are restricted in how much they’re able to use for trees in LA’s parks. Trees in parks provide us with immense benefits — to lose them would be a huge blow to the health and well-being of our communities. In response to this situation, we’re establishing a rapid-response system and mobilizing volunteer teams to ensure that those trees get the water they need.
We’ll also be shifting our volunteers who were originally set to participate in tree planting events in the Angeles National Forest to tree care events at parks across Los Angeles. Once our Angeles volunteers are scheduled, we will post the events on our online calendar for general volunteers to register for.
We’d love to have your support on this important campaign, either by donating to support our financial needs to maintain this work or by volunteering. Please check our calendar in the upcoming weeks, and sign up to be a part of this effort.
Sadly, we are only seeing the first wave of issues arising from this crisis. But we’re hard at work readying additional campaigns and systems of support to help ensure that we not only survive but thrive during this drought. Please stay in contact with us to find out about our additional opportunities for action – by following us on Facebook and Twitter.