Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2019

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1151132

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Page 7 of 31

8 wholelifetimes.com S quawk, squawk, squawk!! Those familiar cries made me crane my head upwards to get a glimpse of the green-bodied parrots. I was not disappointed. There they were, flying together over a large Sycamore tree. My friends, the wild parrots of Malibu, had survived the wildfires. Indeed, they seemed to be flourishing! November's wildfires and February's floods had kept me away from my favorite Malibu campground for almost a year. Finally, in June 2019 the Leo Carrillo State Park campground reopened. So, I took a trip up Pacific Coast Hwy to see how the place had fared, and to see if my friends, the wild parrots, were okay. Leo Carrillo State Park is in the northernmost part of Los Angeles County, bordering Ventura County where the Woolsey fire had moved across the hills, and burned all the way down to the beach in some spots. Considering how intense the wildfires had been, I really didn't see as much destruction to the campgrounds as I had expected. The tall, non-native yellow rye grasses that usually cover the hillsides were burned out. Without rye grass interference, native bunch grasses were growing in their place. Yellow blossoms of Spanish mustard were waving in the breeze, softening the hills. And spring rains had helped wildflowers bloom: monkeyflowers, yellow daisies, poppies, and lupines. Fire is a two-edged sword — Native chaparral plants and animals have adapted to survive fires when fires occur naturally. The problem comes when humans appear on the scene. Our mismanagement and haphazard fire prevention methods have taken a toll on these wild places. I was happy to see that despite the human-caused wildfires, this place was thriving. It took many, many working hours to turn the park around. Crews were still busy when I visited, cutting dead branches away with chainsaws, and tilling soil in trails. The visitors' center had to be rebuilt. Restoring water to the campgrounds had posed some challenges and was still a work in progress. The fire took out many of the mature Live Oak trees, though some of them will regrow from still-living roots. The California Sycamore trees (Platanus racemosa) with their palm-like leaves were thankfully passed over. This is good news for the Nanday or black-hooded parakeets that make nests in Sycamores' hollows. Sumac was another wildfire survivor. Everywhere I looked black branches were sticking up from a base of new green leaves. The Sumacs were re-growing from something called a burl. The burl acts as a survival mechanism, storing water NATURE'S BALANCE city of angels By Kathy Vilim Photo: Tentaculata/Creative Commons From Destruction to Renewal Malibu Creek State Park campground was relatively unscathed, but the fire did come close to the perimeter.

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