Updated: May 20, 2019
Malibu Creek State Park is an expansive wilderness in the Calabasas and Malibu areas just outside the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. Many of the resources in the park have been damaged or destroyed by human impact and natural disasters. But the area is experiencing a renewal of these lost resources.
In November of 2018, the park and surrounding area were destroyed by the Woolsey wildfire. The chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitat were almost entirely wiped out in the region. Winter brought a higher than average rainfall which caused a massive bloom of invasive plants like wild mustard. These non-native invasive plants and grasses have made it difficult for indigenous species to recover from the fire.
The Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT) organization is busy working on several restoration projects to benefit the park and its wildlife inhabitants. Under a grant from the California Department of Water Resources, MRT is currently in the process of carrying out a two-fold approach to revitalizing the local ecosystem. One part of the project involves eradicating non-native invasive red swamp crayfish from the creeks and streams. The second part is riparian habitat restoration through the removal of non-native invasive vegetation and planting of native plants and trees.
MRT Restoration Project Manager, Rachel Burnap says, “The grant requirement was to plant 700 plants. And to date, there's about twelve hundred. So, you've got so many plants in here.” She works alongside fellow MRT staff members and community volunteers to care for their selected sites within the park. “Malibu Creek has a lot of non-native invasive plants,” says Burnap. “We removed a lot of the mustard [plants] and I think like five to six different types of non-native invasive grasses.”
In a time when the climate is changing and humans continue development in natural areas, habitat for wild plants and animals is being diminished. Projects from organizations like MRT act as an important aid to these pressing issues. According to a study published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), properly executed wetland restoration projects can have significant positive impacts in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change and urbanization.
MRT has frequent postings for events where the community can volunteer and get involved in these restoration projects. People of all ages can join together and create lasting change for the environment by participating. It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature while helping to enhance the health of the habitat, ensuring places like Malibu Creek State Park continue to be available for generations of people and wildlife yet to come.