By Wendi Gladstone
In last June’s UUSM Newsletter I shared with you the adventures of the Sky Valley Volunteers (SVV) and living the UU 7th Principle. My business partner John and I revived a dormant environmental nonprofit for purposes of habitat restoration and living the 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence.
Our operation was quite successful in its first year. We got permission from the Boeing Company at the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) site and from MRCA at Sage Ranch Park and Dayton Canyon to plant a total of about 150 Coast Live Oak Trees in February 2018. Today we have about 350 trees in the ground.
Then the Woolsey Fire happened in November 2018. The Sage Ranch forest escaped the flames, as it was just north of the fire’s onset, but the Boeing property was not as fortunate. John and I stood on a mountain top not far from our planting area and watched our nine-month-old forest burn. It was heartbreaking to say the least.
We weren’t given access to the site at SSFL until mid December. I knew everything had burned, but seeing it for the first time was devastating. I just fell to my knees and wept next to our “first baby” which had grown to be 18 inches tall. The area had been completely toasted.
Our next visit to SSFL was granted in early March. It is amazing to witness the ability these trees have to survive. Below, though the tree in the foreground is obviously gone and you can see its “ghost” on the ground in the December 2018 photo, the trees in the background have sprouted new growth by March 2019.
Not only had many of the mature trees re-sprouted, so had most of our newly-planted forest. By March 90% of our babies were coming back.
Next to my thumb below is the re-sprout of our “first baby.” She’s three inches tall here, and by May she’d grown significantly, as you can see.
We are determined, in spite of fire, to carry on the environmental aspect of the UU 7th Principle. Not only are we respecting the interdependence of all on this planet, but we are actively participating. See our video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cZK0S2smAK0.
We added trees to our first forest and we planted a new forest at Santa Susana Field Lab on the Boeing property on April 5th. This is my Mom’s forest, The Barbara Gladstone Memorial Forest. All of the more than 80 trees have names, one for each person/group who cared, attended her memorial service, or who were her friends. UU of Santa Monica has a tree planted in that forest. Thank you all for caring!
Long live the interdependent web of all existence.
Photos by John Luker.