Santa Monica Mountains Restoration

Our work in the Santa Monica Mountains

TreePeople has a long history of providing tree planting and restoration work in the Santa Monica Mountains including work at Malibu Creek State Park, Topanga State Park and Cold Creek Preserve.

In 2008, a formal collaborative effort was formed between TreePeople and Mountains Restoration Trust – launched to broaden the effort and help support restoration work in areas of greatest need by organizing volunteers to carry out efforts that include planting native plants and acorns, and removing non-native vegetation.

Why it matters

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, often called the "lungs of Los Angeles,"  was established November 10, 1978. Its terrain contains massive watersheds, is rich in historical value, and provides access to nature for millions of people annually. It is the largest urban national park in the United States, and protects some of the most significant examples of terrestrial Mediterranean-type ecosystems and coastal marine environments in the world. There are over 1,000 plant species that offer habitat to approximately 5,500 mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and insect species.

All over these mountains, native plant communities – coastal sage scrub, chaparral and oak woodlands – are competing for water with non-native invasive species, such as mustard, tumbleweed and foxtail grasses.  Invasive plants increase the frequency of fires by providing more continuous fuels that are easier to ignite. They poison the soil killing native seeds, and are not only less nutritious but are actually harmful to wildlife. After fires, non-native weeds typically re-establish more rapidly than native plants, suppressing the recovery of the natives and allowing the weeds to expand their range. In addition, if fires occur too frequently, some of the native vegetation loses the ability to recover at all.

Water quality is dependent on a healthy watershed, and that means the native vegetation growing on our mountains and hillsides is also providing an invaluable function in maintaining water quality and water quantity for downstream areas. When the natural vegetation is removed, for any reason, there is a significant increase in surface runoff, mudslides, sedimentation of streams, and reduced water percolation into the local aquifers.

Get involved!

This work is funded by generous grants from The Walt Disney Company and The Boeing Company, and by contributions from TreePeople supporters like you.

Volunteers are always needed for mountain restoration. Check our online calendar for upcoming events. 

If you'd like to provide even more help to the restoration effort, consider being trained as a Santa Monica Restoration Supervisor to help lead untrained volunteers in this effort.

For more information on our Santa Monica Mountains restoration work please contact our Volunteer Manager at or (818) 623-4879.

About the Mountains Restoration Trust

Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT) is a non-profit land trust dedicated to preserving wilderness land in the Santa Monica Mountains through restoration, education and land acquisition. Founded in 1981, MRT has established strong relationships with government agencies in an ongoing effort to maintain a cooperative relationship between urbanization and native land. For more information call (818) 591-1701or visit