Oak Reforestation at Trippet Ranch

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The morning of Saturday, January 12, was meant to be a rainy one. Staff members of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM) stood near sign-in tents, anxiously awaiting the volunteers they were convinced wouldn’t show.

The clock hadn’t yet struck 9 a.m. before the first volunteers trickled in, followed by a ceaseless wave of arriving volunteers that stretched on until 11:30 a.m. In total, 73 dedicated L.A. County residents made the trek to Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park, eager to reforest the beloved Santa Monica Mountains.

By the end of the event, most volunteers were caked in mud and beaming from ear to ear. They began the morning by building protective wire cages for their soon-to-be-planted oak trees,  then split into teams, some planting acorns, others hiking around the park in search of fresh mulch. The mulch was spread around newly planted trees to ensure weeds do not steal water from young trees as they attempt to establish roots.

Once the oaks were in the ground, volunteers watered and tagged their trees. Volunteers then took preliminary data on tree size, the number of leaves, and tag numbers so RCDSMM staff can continue to track oak growth and health. Some volunteers even signed up to steward their newly planted trees during the hot summer months, providing water monthly and caring for the very oak they had just planted.

Fifty acorns were also planted and the event ended with a nature walk, led by RCDSMM senior conservation biologist Rosi Dagit, who read from her children’s book, “Grandmother Oak,” during the short hike.

Grandmother Oak was one of the oldest oaks in Trippet Ranch, estimated to have been around 300 years old when she died in 2016 and finally fell in 2018, most likely due to stress of prolonged drought. The story of Grandmother Oak is not solely a sad one; it also brings a message of hope and resilience. Volunteers left the event knowing there are things in life worth protecting that don’t always have a voice of their own, something they probably already knew because that is exactly what they were doing that day.

If you are interested in becoming a Tree Steward for our oaks in Trippet Ranch, please e-mail the RCDSMM at akahler@rcdsmm.org.

To volunteer for future RCDSMM events please visit the event section of our Facebook; go to our Event Brite page; or find us on Volunteer Match!

For more information: akahler@rcdsmm.org; (818) 597 8627, ext. 106; or (661) 269 6901 (cell).

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