Down from the Mountain as Another Season Closes

Ah, the sun has set on another seedling planting season in the Angeles National Forest. This year, Forest Aid: Angeles volunteers planted nearly 10,000 Jeffrey and Coulter pines, thanks to the management of the U.S. Forest Service, TreePeople mountain restoration staff, and the supervision of TreePeople’s dedicated volunteer group of Angeles Forest Restoration Supervisors.

There were stunningly beautiful days atop the mountain at Chilao Campground, where hundreds of seedlings went into the ground, planted by school groups and scout troops; corporate volunteers from companies all over the L.A. area; sororities, fraternities, and other collegiate clubs; and individuals of all ages. There is nothing like coming together as one large group to plant trees!

Photo: Julie Prejean
Students from Franklin Classical Middle School, winners of the Southern California Edison/TreePeople TreeByTree campaign, help plant seedlings at the end of the season. See the full album of photos by David Cassell in our Flickr stream.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few days when Mother Earth didn’t cooperate with our plans. Weather conditions forced cancellations of some events: some days there were high winds up to 60 miles per hour, making it too dangerous for volunteers to work.

Boy, did we need some rain. Last year during the planting season, we were lucky it rained or snowed almost every weekday. Then, miraculously, the weather would clear up and the ground would dry in time for the volunteers to plant on the weekends. This year , the U.S. Forest Service determined in early April that the ground was too dry for us to continue planting and they officially ended the season on April 6. We just didn’t get enough rain and snow! That’s the tricky part of this restoration, seedlings can’t be planted when there is snow on the ground and they also can’t be planted if there isn’t enough moisture in the soil. Tricky and challenging.

To give the seedlings a fighting chance, a few tree care events were scheduled to build berms and place mulch mats at the base of the tiny trees. TreePeople will be scheduling a few more of these tree care events at Chilao Campground in the late spring/early summer. This should give the seedlings an extra boost to survive and thrive!

I had the pleasure of being able to attend several of the Forest Aid: Angeles events this year and I can tell you, being in our local mountains is wholly restorative to my soul. I am deeply appreciative for all the hard work of the U.S. Forest Service staff (especially Amy and Sonny), the TreePeople forestry staff (especially Marcos and Hector), the Generation Earth staff (especially Mary, Julie Ann, and Andrew), and, once again, the amazing, selfless and tireless Angeles Forest Restoration Supervisors. You are all mega-stars!

Please enjoy the photo I took as I left the mountain on the last planting day. We’ll see you next season!

Above: Chilao Campground sunset, 5,300 feet above Los Angeles, April 6, 2013. Photo: Julie Prejean

By Julie Prejean

Julie joined TreePeople in 2008 after building her career over the past 17 years in the field of volunteer and community led project management. In the late 1990's, she co-developed a volunteer project leadership training which is currently used by the local Hands On Network affiliate, L.A. Works. To date, she has trained and mobilized thousands of volunteers of all ages in hundreds of community led projects on school campuses, streets and parks throughout Los Angeles County. She currently manages the work of TreePeople's Forestry Department, a vibrant group of dedicated tree planting, tree care and restoration professionals.