Tony Krizan

Group working to save local environment one sapling at a time. Why not try their idea here?

By Tony Krizan

Special to the Sierra Star

Early July this year I had an engagement speaking at the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Sierra Club in Southern California. Before my engagement date I met with John Luker and Wendi Gladstone, the originators of Sky Valley Volunteers.

What are they doing? They are promoting reforestation of coastal live oak trees in the west San Fernando Valley and surrounding mountains. Basically, they nurture acorns from the moment they drop from the mother tree, put them in a hibernation state until they germinate and plant them in pots until the final stage of planting in the ground. I was so impressed by their progress that I wanted to share their idea of environmental awareness with you my readers.

The goal of the Sky Valley Volunteers is to preserve, protect and restore the trees and mountains above Chatsworth located at the west end of the San Fernando Valley. Southern California is suffering the same overheating and dry conditions that we are experiencing here in Central California. Guess what? Two people decided to take this problem seriously and created Sky Valley Volunteers (skyvalleyvolunteers.org). They are a nonprofit dedicated to saving those historic oak trees that used to offer ground cover surrounding those beautifully sculptured rocks covering the Chatsworth Mountains.

After planting their first 90 trees a year and a half ago, this mountain area suffered another setback with the devastating Woolsey Fire in November 2018. Luker and Gladstone watched in despair from a distance as the fire burned through their new area of oak tree saplings. This setback was heartbreaking, but within four months 90% of those hearty baby trees were bouncing back, re-sprouting from the ashen ground. Today they have 6 or more inches of new growth, halfway back to the size they were before the fire.

With the assistance of 15 dedicated volunteers, The Boeing Company, Mountain Recreation Conservation Authority and local State Parks, they have planted over 400 new trees within these mountains. They have about 800 waiting to go in the ground in the late fall. Oak trees are given free to private and public organizations and individuals, with the hopes that one day these new sprouts will replace those lost to today’s insects, fire and drought.

My personal response: Why can’t this idea, that two normal citizens created, be adopted by others to bring back our California forests for future generations to enjoy?

For additional information contact Sky Valley Volunteers president John Luker or vice president Wendi Gladstone at skyvalleyvolunteers@gmail.com.

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