Contact: Kate Kuykendall, 805-370-2343
Contact: Craig Sap, 310-699-1732
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- In the wake of approximately 14,000 acres of burned park land, officials from the National Park Service and California State Parks have a few suggestions for how community members can help nature recover. Numerous concerned visitors eager to protect and restore the affected land have contacted both agencies offering their assistance.
"We're touched by the outpouring of support from the community and their desire to help," said David Szymanski, superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. "We'll need everyone's help to ensure the recovery goes as smoothly as possible."
Though fire is a natural part of all ecosystems, too many fires can harm native plant communities, reduce wildlife habitat and even increase future fire risk. Historically, the Santa Monica Mountains experienced fires only once every 75 to 100 years. When Southern California landscapes burn too often, dry and fire-prone invasive weeds and grasses become established and increase future fire risk.
The fire burned more than 1,000 acres of National Park Service land and more than 12,000 acres of California State Parks land (the remainder of public park land acreage is owned by an assortment of park agencies).
The ecosystem is especially fragile in the aftermath of fire, so park officials encourage the public to take the following steps to help nature make a healthy recovery:
1. Respect the closures. We're working as hard as possible to assess conditions within the burn area, but the fire is still active and our own staff must be escorted by fire officials. We can't open the park (or specific trails) until it's safe for visitors and the cultural and natural resources we protect. We appreciate your patience!
2. Stay on the trail. When our parks re-open, staying on designated trails (not unofficial paths created by fire crews) and minding posted closure signs is critical to protecting the wildlife and plant communities that survived the flames. Foot and bike traffic tramples sensitive soil, vegetation, burrows and nests.
3. Sign up to volunteer. Fire is part of nature, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give nature a hand along the way. We're still assessing the damage, but you can sign up now for future opportunities to do habitat restoration and trail improvement.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in the "After the Fire" series, "Top 3 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe From Fire."
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. It comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/samo.
California State Parks is composed of 279 units on nearly 1.5 million acres of land. State Parks is responsible for nearly one-third of the coastline of California, with more than 3,000 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. State Parks receives more than 65 million visitors yearly, making it the single largest visitor destination in the state and second only to the National Park system for the nation. For more information, visit www.parks.ca.gov.
Last updated: March 1, 2015