FALLBROOK – Save Our Forest/Fallbrook Land Conservancy honored an amazing volunteer, Howard Sansom, July 20. With the permission of the Fallbrook Village Association, the park's owner, a small plot at Jackie Heyneman Park is the site where they planted two grand Jacaranda trees, complementary drought tolerant plants, and a rock with a beautiful marble plaque engraved to memorialize the site as "the Patch," honoring Sansom's 21 year commitment to Save Our Forest and his community.
A young man who knew what he was going to do with his life very early, he wrote in his high school yearbook, "I am planning to take some phase of reforestation or conservation after I have served time for Uncle Sam." Sansom retired from the Marine Corp. having been a pilot, flying every type of airplane known to the military during his 20 years of service.
He fulfilled the other phase of his life plan when he moved to Fallbrook and wandered into a SOF booth during a tree planting. And so it began.
All those years ago, Sansom became a SOF volunteer with monthly Work Parties to maintain the trees that SOF planted. He also grew oak trees at his home. Soon with 100 trees in his yard, he found he was running out of space. He got permission from a fellow member, Mike Peters, to bring the oaks to his property. That was the beginning of "the Patch."
The numbers grew, the SOF Environmental Education program was born, and soon there were almost 5000 trees and native plants at the Patch. Leaving home three days a week to care for his babies, he said goodbye to Joan, his wife, saying, "I am going to the patch."
As the numbers there grew, his crew grew. Gary Beeler was recruited and he brought Jody Williams along. They too were three day a week volunteers. Two were spent at the Patch, and one working with the Native Plant Team on the FLC Preserves.
With the terracing he had done on the sloping site and the vast drip irrigation system he installed, he needed help. These helpers had a vested interest with SOF to bring these plants along for the students to plant in FLC Preserves. It is still a wonderful partnership. "This accomplishment alone was of tremendous value to SOF," said Jackie Heyneman, SOF spokesperson.
But, Sansom's volunteerism and desire to improve the community did not stop there. During the troubling time when the San Luis Rey River course was threatened by a possible dump being constructed at that river's location, a group formed called River Watch, which he joined. Their efforts supported the legal battle financially. The location was also a meaningful site for the Pala Indians, who joined in the fight which ended when the Reservation bought the property to preserve their sacred mountain.
Working with both organizations, he combined the two groups and signed on to the County Adopt-A-Road program. It was a way to perform a much needed service as well as get roadside signage that prominently displayed their names to the public. It was, and is, the long stretch from Hwy 76 to East Mission that is still a monthly venture for SOF.
Designed for each adoption to be a two mile section, cleaned only required quarterly, it is absolutely necessary for a monthly trash pickup due to illegal dumping still happening today.
Monthly work parties, organizing major tree plantings that have brought over 2700 trees to the community, serving on the SOF committee to help oversee all their programs was part of his life in Fallbrook.
Sansom was recognized as Emerald Grove Volunteer of the Year in 2016. He passed away the following May in 2017. On July 20, Heyneman, reflecting on his contributions, said that his life of service to his country and his town deserves recognition.
Submitted by Fallbrook Land Conservancy.