On Saturday, Feb. 17, 350 young Monterey pines on the Ranch received much-needed water when Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (FFRP) organized bucket brigades to save them.
The trees were planted over the past three years and were thirsty because they have been enduring one of the driest winters in recent times. While established, more mature trees harvest fog condensing on their needles and falling to the ground in a circle as large as the tree canopy, very young trees hardly have enough needles to accomplish this amazing feat. So, they needed a drink and water was provided by 37 hardworking, enthusiastic volunteers from the community.
Jim Bahringer, Mark Meeks, Curt Snow and Brian Morgan drove trucks holding water tanks filled with nonpotable water. Others were there to fill containers, while even more carried gallon containers, watering cans and 5-gallon buckets to the waiting seedlings. The usual Saturday volunteers were there to help, along with new faces — a lot of them very young faces — volunteers from Chi Omega sorority at Cal Poly.
The wonderful women of Chi Omega were doing community service as one of their sorority’s six purposes and striving to be a positive force in the world around them. They were cheerful, fun and hardworking, and their good energy made the time go by quickly. Amanda Gile, one of the sorority sisters, said that they had a great time helping at the Ranch. Thank you, Chi Omega!
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There were also a few first-time local volunteers. One of them, Cambrielle Mumper, 4 years old, came with her grandfather Bruce Mumper, who believes that this kind of activity creates deeper connections to nature and a greater sense of place within the community.
Kim Matson, another first-timer, posted on Nextdoor Lodge Hill, “I joined the group watering the little baby trees … for the first time. It was great!” and encouraged everyone to join next time.
FFRP encourages you to join too! You can do that by emailing email@example.com to express interest in receiving notice of monthly volunteer workdays that take place every third Saturday. You’ll be added to the volunteer list and receive notice each month about the work and where to meet.
It takes a village to raise these seedlings and care for the Ranch. The 350 trees were planted by families and friends who join the volunteers in replenishing our forest on the weekend after Thanksgiving. All ages, from very tiny children to grandparents of those children, join together in a day of making a difference and enjoying this beautiful place we call the Ranch.
All of the care is done by volunteers who invest a bit of themselves in something larger. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking to find out that some vandal or vandals had pulled up many of our 2-year-old trees near the Dolphin bench.
Cambria citizens are our eyes and ears on the Ranch. If you see a problem, please call the Ranch Manager, Carlos Mendoza at 805-927-6220 or the FFRP office at 805-927-2856.
Some say that California’s forests need a lot of help over the coming decades to face the challenges of drought and change. It takes 80 to 100 years for Monterey pines to reach their full size. Larger trees store more carbon than smaller trees, so taking care of the new plantings will help sequester carbon for the future. The Ranch is indebted to all the volunteers who are helping to keep this rare and endangered species alive and well in its natural habitat. Thank you!
Jo Ellen Butler is executive director of Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. Ranch Update appears quarterly and is special to The Cambrian.