Every year in late September, hundreds of thousands of people head outside for National Public Lands Day. The observance first started in 1994 to raise awareness and protect the spaces maintained by federal, state and local governments for public use– over 30% of the US landmass. The event has grown into the single largest volunteer event dedicated to preserving and restoring our public lands. Not only is it a chance for people to give back, it is also a wonderful chance to explore, as many state and federal agencies relax fees for the day.
For this year’s National Public Lands Day, TreePeople’s Director of Forestry, Brian Rekart, and Wildland Restoration Manager, Cody Chappel, and 25 volunteers from across LA, gathered at Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park to kick off the fall planting season.
“We’re putting 24 trees in the ground today,” Chappel stated as he unloaded the saplings from the bed of his work truck. “We’re planting coast live oak and California black walnut. Black walnut woodlands are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the state.”
The sound of shovels and digging bars breaking through the rocky mountain soil shattered the early morning calm. Volunteer supervisors filled buckets with water and delivered them to the teams, who were obscured by an opaque layer of dust rising from the ground. As the trees entered their new homes, the volunteers made sure the thirsty roots were given a nice, cool taste of water to start them in the right direction.
TreePeople volunteer, Merrill Koss came from North Hollywood for the opportunity to put new trees in the ground.
“It’s hard work, but it’s also beautiful work,” said Koss. “All this sweat is worth it at the end of the day!”
With 10 more planting events, and dozens more tree care events already scheduled for this year, TreePeople aims to continue its work of cultivating and protecting green spaces in Los Angeles.
“We’ve got big plans for this season”, Chappel said as the final trees entered the ground. “This is only the start!”