by MRT Board Member, Jo Powe
When I first came to Los Angeles in 1983 I was a little skeptical about whether I would ever feel at home in such a sprawling metropolis. I rented a small apartment in Santa Monica and went for long bike rides along the coast in order to get outdoors and find a connection to nature. I certainly loved the sandy beaches, but I found them way too crowded. Then one day a friend of mine asked me to go hiking with her in Topanga State Park and that was all it took to make me fall in love with Los Angeles.
Before that hike I had not realized what an extraordinary resource the Santa Monica Mountains were. My focus had been on my job in a downtown law firm and getting to the beach whenever I could. The Santa Monicas were just these hills in the distance. But once I started exploring them I realized just how rugged and wild they are.
After spending many a Saturday hiking in the Santa Monicas I decided I wanted to live closer to the mountains so my husband and I moved with our two young sons to Monte Nido. Our children grew up exploring the creeks and trails of the Santa Monica Mountains and to this day we all spend as much time as we can enjoying our nation’s largest urban wilderness park.
Shortly after we moved to Monte Nido I discovered there was a nonprofit land trust called Mountains Restoration Trust which had recently launched its Commemorative Oaks program in Malibu Creek State Park. I signed up for one of MRT’s volunteer days to remove invasive non-natives and help plant thousands of oak trees. There I met Jo Kitz who taught me so much about the extraordinary ecosystem of the Santa Monica Mountains. She gave me such a deep appreciation for just how productive this ecosystem is and how important it is to protect it.
In 2010 I was invited to join the Board of MRT and I eagerly accepted. To me the Santa Monica Mountains are what make Los Angeles special.