This is the driest year in 164 years of recorded history, and so California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency for our state. "We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared...and I'm calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible," Brown said.
With our beautiful blue skies and gorgeous sun-filled days, it is hard to feel like there is a crisis. But Angelenos know that winter is when our mountains store up the snow-packs and our reservoirs fill with rain. That hasn't happened for the past few years and now we are facing the consequences.
We are at a greater risk for fires, our urban tree canopy is in jeopardy, our air quality suffers and we are losing local wilderness and habitat because of, and in addition, to the lack of rainfall. And yet, there is hope. But it will require all of us doing as much as we can.
And that's the good news, because there’s much we can do:
- We can cut our water consumption and use that water instead on newly planted trees.
- We can harvest the rain that does fall.
- We can rip up thirsty lawns and get rid of sprinklers that spray our streets.
- We can adopt trees to care for.
- We can plant climate-appropriate and native plants.
- We can lead and volunteer at tree planting and care events in our neighborhoods and local mountains.
- We can educate ourselves and talk to others.
Trees are the most vital resource for environmental well-being in urban areas. While it may seem counter-intuitive to irrigate trees in a water crisis, it is the single most important thing to do. Trees actually are key to a sufficient local water supply in Los Angeles.
When it does rain, a mature tree can capture thousands of gallons of rainwater in its canopy and root zone, sinking that rain into the aquifer. Because so much of our city is paved, every time it rains an inch in the City of Los Angeles, 3.8 billion gallons of precious water runs off into the ocean and is wasted. When it doesn’t rain, trees shade and cool our city by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some ways to get started:
- Adopt a tree (Care for the trees that are already here and help them thrive.)
- Learn to Harvest Rainwater (Every drop counts!)
- Transform your landscape with drought tolerant native plants (We have enough water, just not enough to waste.)
- Become a Citizen Forester (Lead others in your community to help grow a greener city!)
- Become a TreePeople Outreach Volunteer (Teach others and help spread the word.)
- Volunteer at a TreePeople event (And bring a friend!)
- Australia Report (Find out what others have done and see how it worked to reverse the impact of the drought.)
According to some ‘We are the one species the earth could very well do without.’ That’s accepted in many circles…
“But what if it is not true? What if we are intended to discover and actually engage the capacities that deep down we know we have? What if we’ve been given that special role all along? Imagine how important and how joyful the taking up of that responsibility could be.” ---Andy Lipkis, founder and president of TreePeople.
Now is the time. LA is our home. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work and discover, together, how hopeful we can be with all that there is to be done.