Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park is home to several different ecosystems, from scrubland to chaparral to oak woodlands. Any hiker going through the park would have a hard time missing the vegetation native to each ecosystem.
The large coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia) are indicative of the oak woodlands in the Santa Monica Mountains and have had a long historical significance to those living and visiting the area. During the last drought though, the oaks were devastated and many were lost.
In order to mitigate the loss at Trippet Ranch, the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM) and California State Parks have been working together to restore 10 acres within the park. More than 200 coast live oak acorns and seedlings were planted in the spring of this year, adding to 50 planted last year. Monthly large volunteer events have previously been held to water and care for the new oaks, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the RCDSMM is limited in resources available to care for the oaks.
The new oaks are especially vulnerable in the hot summer months and are in desperate need of water as well as weeding. The RCDSMM is launching its Adopt a Baby Oak program to ask for volunteer help in taking care of the trees easily accessible in the park.
Those interested are encouraged to find a tree or several trees in the park that they would like to care for and check the status of the tree by visiting our website (rcdsmm.org).
In order to prevent trees from receiving too much care while others are still in need, the RCDSMM has created an interactive map that will be frequently updated with the adoption status of each tree.
After finding your tree(s) to take care of and letting the RCD know, care is as simple as watering and weeding your tree whenever you are hiking in the park. The baby oak trees ideally receive five gallons of water a month, but in the dry summer months, any water helps. Bringing an extra liter once a week when you hike would be a tremendous help to the oak.
All the oaks are surrounded by cages to deter deer and other creatures from munching on the trees. Other plant species may also grow within the cages and compete with the oaks for resources. The oaks have the best chance with tall cages and when the surrounding area and cage do not have other plants competing.
CAUTION! Trippet Ranch is home to native poison oak and nettles, so please be mindful whenever weeding the baby oaks.
The RCDSMM will continue to update its tree care data over the summer, so let us know after each watering or care event. The interactive map on our website will be updated with data such as when care is given, the condition of the tree, and pictures of each tree as we receive them. Follow along and watch the success of the trees. Given a good start, these trees can live for more than 100 years and have strong positive impacts on the area.
Even if you cannot make it to the park consistently, you can still help our Tree Care program. A small team of RCDSMM employees and volunteers will be continuing caring for trees in the park but are limited by funding. If you would like to adopt a tree but are not able to regularly visit Trippet Ranch, you can donate to the RCDSMM Oak Fund and we can care for the tree. It costs $25 a month for us to grow the trees but all donations help!
Please also let us know if you are interested in volunteering at our watering events in the future at Trippet Ranch and Lower Topanga Rodeo Grounds. We are hoping to continue the larger volunteer events in the future when it is safe to do so and would love your help.
For more information: Contact Watershed Stewards Project member Rachel Kieffer, (818) 597-8627, firstname.lastname@example.org; or rcdsmm.org/tot for details.