The third year of drought caused dramatic effects pushing TreePeople staff and volunteers into high gear in 2014. Though it was challenging, the drought gave us the opportunity to implement new programs like the Irricades. We also adapted existing programs, like our drought response park tree care events, to best counter the effects of the dry conditions on trees and native plants throughout our city. This helped us continue to make deep, expansive impacts with the support of thousands of our dedicated, incredibly hardworking volunteers.
We kicked off the year with our annual fruit tree distribution program, a project that gives away thousands of bare-root fruit trees to underserved neighborhoods every year. At just one event, the Pacoima Fruit Tree Festival, we managed to distribute 800 trees at the to over 1,200 community residents even in the pouring rain—all made possible with the help of over 100 inspiring volunteers!
Unfortunately, 2014 also brought unsettling news—low snow pack preventing us from hosting our regular tree planting events in the Angeles National Forest. But we didn’t let that stop us from saving the trees. We worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service to focus on tree care so the young trees planted in previous years could make it through the dry conditions. Thankfully, our friends at Burbank Water and Power helped save the day by providing recycled water. It’s because of their help that TreePeople staff, Restoration Supervisors and volunteers were able to care for 1,051 trees!
We also had an incredible year out in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains. Despite the ongoing drought, our projects continued to thrive. For example, the bank of our Las Virgenes Creek site is finally enjoying shade for the first time in decades! Additionally, with the help of volunteers and supervisors, we planted thousands of native plants—from wildflowers to oaks and everything in between. Acres of non-native, invasive species were removed, and we made and distributed literally tons of mulch right on site. We even fulfilled planting goals in some sites, and a new project in Topanga launched; this is due in large part to the continued dedication of our volunteers and strong network of Restoration Supervisors. Lastly, five crucial waterways continued to be protected and were also enhanced over the course of 60 events.
Our Urban Forestry events were also working hard in the streets, schools and parks of LA this year. In October, a beautiful planting in Huntington Park showed us, once again, the unmatched importance of having trained Volunteer Supervisors at events. Though the event met us with challenges such as unseasonably warm weather and a spread out planting site, the support of several seasoned supervisors saw us through. These solid folks made sure everyone was being safe, having fun and planting correctly to help make the day go smoothly!
We also celebrated the launch of our new collaborative app, TreeMapLA that gave space for a new community of volunteers to join tree mapping events around the city. Since its debut, nearly 150 volunteers have added over 1,300 trees to the map. Now, with the help of neighborhoods across LA, over 20,000 trees have been recorded, which contribute over $600,000 in eco benefits. Now, we are focusing to support communities in organizing and running their own tree mapping events. We already have groups in Pacoima and Silver Lake trained and working on their own mapping projects! If you would like to put together a tree mapping group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our outreach efforts were also strong this year due to our amazing Outreach Volunteers, who brought more participation than ever before during Earth Month. Over the course of 2014, 30 Outreach Volunteers participated in 85 different events to leverage our reach to more than 70,000 Angelenos!
Even in the face of the drought, it’s been a tremendous year for our programs thanks in large part to the fantastic efforts of our volunteers. We’re also thankful to our office volunteers and interns who supported staff, while Forestry and Outreach Volunteers and supervisors bolstered our efforts in the field. We simply could not have had so much success without their hard work and enthusiasm. Thank you to our supervisors, general volunteers, Outreach Volunteers, office support, interns, corporate partners and every individual and group who donated their time to make our work possible. We look forward to working together in 2015 to continue supporting our vision for a sustainable future!
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