How to Help the Santa Monica Mountains After The Springs Fire

The landscape around the La Jolla Trail after the Springs Fire. | Photo: Courtesy National Park Service

This year's early and intense fire season made an unfortunate visit to the Santa Monica Mountains last week, charring 24,000 acres, mostly in parks. Although the Springs Fire is nearly contained, it will be longer until open spaces and trails begin to open.

Much of the public outreach to the National Park Service and California State Parks has been to ask how they can help the 14,000 acres of burned parkland. To that, the two agencies this week announced a list of "three things you can do to help nature recover."

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Map of the Springs Fire (view larger PDF version)

Firstly, respect the closures. This one for some might seem frustrating, especially since the area around popular Sandstone Peak did not burn, yet remains closed. Nonetheless, the National Park Service needs to assess the land, which can take time since fire officials still have the area closed. And just because a fire is contained, it does not mean it's controlled. Hot spots, smoldering, and other fire activity could still be going on. Here's one such example: A botanist and others were in the fire damaged area this week and walked past a smoldering tree. Later when returned, that three had fallen.

The second tip is something that's an ever-constant battle: Stay on the trail! It's usually easy to differentiate between established trails and so-called social trails, usually created by hikers taking a shortcut or meandering off-trail to some interesting spot. And with the blaze, firefighters created numerous more trails as they worked toward full containment. But the more people can do to avoid this, the better the sensitive soils, vegetation, burrows, and nests can be.

Lastly, volunteer! Opportunities have not yet been announced, but here's an online form to sign-up for announcements.

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