Locally Collected Seeds Used to Grow 100,000 Native Plants in Santa Monica Mountains Restoration Project

Final planting event will be held Saturday, March 25 at 9 a.m. for the park’s largest ever restoration project

After two years of hard work, the largest-ever restoration project in the Santa Monica Mountains is finally reaching its end, with only a final planting event remaining. The project, which aimed to restore 100,000 native plants to five sites in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, involved around 3,000 volunteers who spent a total of 7,000 hours participating.

Funded by Snap, Inc., the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, and Re:wild, the project began in October 2021 and has seen the growth of 10,000 trees and 90,000 herbs and shrubs from locally collected seeds in the park’s Rancho Sierra Vista native plant nursery. The five project sites were all impacted by recent wildfires, including the Woolsey and Springs wildfires.

According to Joey Algiers, the restoration ecologist who has led the project, the planting strategy involved planting trees along riparian areas with perennial or seasonal creeks where water may exist underground. This not only creates critical habitat for a range of animals, including birds of prey, hawks, owls, bobcats, and mountain lions, but it also supports the growth of native trees like coast live oaks, valley oaks, willows, elderberries, California black walnuts, and western sycamores. Additionally, the restoration of these sites is expected to improve the habitat of sensitive species, such as the grasshopper sparrow and the threatened monarch butterfly.

“Nobody’s doing this kind of work – at least on a collective scale,” Algiers said. “Through long-term monitoring, we discovered that we had lost about 100,000 riparian trees prior to the November 2018 Woolsey Fire. The reason for that includes prolonged drought and other wildfires.”

The final planting event, to be held on March 25 at Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park, will see around 30 high school students from East Los Angeles join dozens of other volunteers. According to Algiers, this project has brought together diverse people from all over the region and from all walks of life. He expressed his gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who made this restoration project a success.

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