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“Old Fire” Claims Mountains Restoration Trust’s Headquarters

On the weekend of June 4th Mountains Restoration Trust’s headquarters fell victim to the Old Fire in Calabasas.  The fire started from downed power lines caused by a car crash close to the office on Mullholland Highway.  The fire quickly burned up 516 acres of the Santa Monica Mountains.  The office building, which was a converted home, was devastated after the old wooden patio awning caught fire and the flames rapidly spread throughout the house.  We were fortunate in that the historic Masson House on the property was completely spared and that no one was seriously injured.  We have been able to salvage many files and hard drives from the computers that did not burn up, but many irreplaceable artifacts were lost.

This fire, though tragic, is an opportunity for Mountains Restoration Trust to rebuild and become stronger than ever.  It is not stopping us from continuing our restoration projects; in fact, many members of the field crew were back out working on our projects by the following Tuesday!  We have a commitment to preserve, enhance, and restore the natural resources of the Santa Monica Mountains and we will continue to do that.  We can now use our skills right on our own headquarters’ property, as we work to enhance and restore the coast live oak woodlands and riparian areas that were burned there.

The office will be torn down and we have plans to create a nature focused demonstration center for the community and beyond.  The center will show how we can live in an urban-wildland setting.  There will be native gardens, interpretive activities, a community presentation room, public bathrooms, and more.

As for now, we are asking for financial assistance in order to continue our operations.  We have moved our office into the Masson House and are in the process of replacing many of the items lost.  We are working to replace the tools used in the field, such as shovels, gloves, hoses, waders, and buckets, along with office supplies, such as computers, telephones, and filing cabinets.  As we are in a scramble to get the projects going full force again, we are appreciative of any and all help.

From fire comes regrowth, and so we are looking forward to the future of Mountains Restoration Trust!

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Potrero Creek Revegetation Project

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Restoration Manager Tom Hayduk (right) and a volunteer(left) working to plant native species.

As you might already know, we are currently working on the Potrero Creek Revegetation Project at National Parks Service’s Rancho Sierra Vista property in Newbury Park. The goal of this large effort is to plant 5,000 oak trees and other native plants on 24 acres of floodplain along Potrero Creek. We are in need of donations in order to complete this vast project. The project is an exciting challenge and an opportunity for the community to help return this land back to the oak woodland and riparian habitat that existed prior to disturbance from ranching and farming activities.

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Potrero Creek Restoration Site with volunteers.

The site was previously a cattle and sheep ranch, then a citrus farm, before being purchased by the National Park Service many years ago. Most native plants that were once there have unfortunately been replaced with non-native annual grasses, mustards and wild radishes. A previous restoration project implemented by the NPS within this area twenty years ago accounts for some of the coast live oak trees scattered throughout the site, and probably much of the mulefat, western sycamore and California wild rose established along the creek. Yet, when MRT first visited the site in the fall of 2014, the area appeared to be largely a blank slate. But on close inspection, little pockets of native plants were found, and anything native and thriving – even on a small scale – was added to our plant list for the project. The list was expanded to include other Santa Monica Mountain species appropriate to the habitats and microclimates found onsite.

Since the project began in February 2015, we have completed about 3/5ths of the planting, meaning that there are still just under 2000 plants that need to be put in the ground. As one of MRT’s most ambitious restoration project to date, we underestimated the vast amount of work required, and are running out of grant money. Even with strong support from the local community and the help of over 300 volunteers, we are still in need of additional funding. The donations will go towards completing the plantings and caring for the recently planted native plants, which includes watering, weeding and spreading mulch. Please share this with your family and friends, donate if you can, and/or join us at one of our monthly volunteer events! Your support in returning these 24 acres of land to the oak woodland and riparian habitat once found there is greatly appreciated!

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A Critical Parcel Added to Cold Creek Preserve

We have purchased a small but significant piece of land within the Cold Creek watershed. The 2.75-acre parcel is located near the intersection of Mulholland Highway and Cold Canyon Road, at the north end of the Monte Nido community. The undeveloped chaparral and grassland of the property not only expands our Cold Creek Preserve but adds critical buffer habitat that protects Cold Creek, which runs just a few hundred feet to the south.

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