Could planting parties be a solution ahead?

John Luker and Wendi Gladstone looking for good locations in the Chatsworth Mountains in Southern California to plant Oak tree seedlings.
John Luker and Wendi Gladstone looking for good locations in the Chatsworth Mountains in Southern California to plant Oak tree seedlings. Special to Sierra Star

In the last five years drought and bark beetle infestation has left its mark on our California landscape, with many Eastern Madera County pine and cedar trees destroyed, like many counties throughout California that have experienced a similar reduction of our precious trees.

In January I had two speaking engagements in Southern California. After one of my presentations I was reintroduced to John Luker by our mutual friend Wendi Gladstone. We first met last year after one of my talks and after a short conversation I realized they were both hikers and enjoyed adventure. They were my guides in hiking the Old Santa Susana Stagecoach Road. That is how are relationship began hiking through the Chatsworth Mountains.

I was impressed that they both were heavily involved in saving their precious Valley Oak Trees in the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles County has a bug problem almost as drastic as Madera County. The difference is their bug was imported from the Far East and attacks oak trees.

After our conversation that evening, curiosity convinced me to join them at Johns home for a planting party of acorns. I’ve been to parties before; but a planting party? Almost six months have passed since John and Wendi have been experimenting with the valley acorns and discovered their reproduction cycle. Now they are in the process of helping nature speed up its growing process.

When I arrived at John home; was I in for a surprise! I have never seen this many people in one area just to plant acorns. Maybe these folks are as serious as many of us and want to save our dwindling tree population here in California.

Knowing they both are very respectable of our environment, I decided to experience this planting party. Would you believe I participated in potting over 200 acorns? Since John and Wendi have spent time and research figuring the cycle of germinating this tiny acorn into a small growing oak tree. They now have my attention! Could this procedure be adapted to other species of native California trees?

So far the acorns have resulted in several hundred viable seedlings, which John and Wendi have nurtured and now plan to plant. The area chosen to kick-off their program is in the Chatsworth area of the San Fernando Valley. John stated that all the acorns were gathered from this local area so species generally adapt.

If this article creates an interest with you, additional information can be obtained by contacting John Luker directly.