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FLC's Native Plant Restoration Team works to preserve local beauty

When visitors show up at the Los Jilgueros Preserve, a 46-acre preserve located in the heart of Fallbrook with more than 2 miles of looping trails, they likely have no idea the amount of weekly hard work that goes into maintaining the property's natural beauty.

But if you want to know, just ask Diane Kennedy, Native Plant Restoration Team (NPRT) chairwoman. The team meets most Wednesday mornings at 8:30 a.m. in the main parking lot and typically work until 10 a.m.

"The work can be hard and in difficult conditions," Kennedy said. "Weed whipping and hand weeding are big on the NPRT's agenda, as well as the occasional digging and planting, hauling mulch, debris or water containers."

Even though the work can be difficult, the NPRT, which is a group born out of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, has continued its work for the past 29 years.

After the Los Jilgueros Preserve was donated to the Fallbrook Land Conservancy by the family of Pamela Van Der Linden in 1990, the group called the Native Plant and Wildflower Team back then, grew out of the Los Jilgueros Preserve Planning Committee, established after the donation.

Led by the late Shogo Yamaguchi, volunteers included Julie Norberg, Toni Inman and Jody Williams. Later, the group was led for many years by Gary Beeler who renamed it, and Kennedy has led the group for the past year.

Kennedy said between 5 and 12 volunteers show up each week and range in age from children to people in their late 80s.

"The NPRT is a group of like-minded individuals of a wide range of backgrounds, experience, and ages who enjoy volunteering toward the common goal of creating and maintaining native habitat," Kennedy said. "Weekly work is determined by the group leader, and input from the entire team is welcomed, but personal agendas must fall in line with NPRT goals.

"Most volunteers have property of their own but enjoy ignoring the weeds at their homes for a morning to tackle the weeds and restore habitat at the preserve."

According to Kennedy, current NPRT members include Miranda Kennedy, Leigh Sevier, Helene Beck, Susan Liebes, Dorothy Thurman, Gilbert Morelos, Donna Gonzalez, Jonathan Scoll, Gregory Moore, Beeler, Joan Williams, David Allen, Eileen DuPont, Marcia Stuart, Jim Hall, Larry Miura, Kristen Richardson and Stephanie Crawford.

Kennedy said tackling Invasive weed removal and native plant installation are the focus of the group each week.

"Native plants provide the best possible food and habitat for our quickly disappearing wildlife," she said. "Wildlands are replaced with landscaped properties that have heavy water use and are food deserts for our native birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Restoring habitat creates an oasis for this wildlife. These animals and insects repay us by being our best pollinators, our best predators against invasive insects, and our best control of problem animals. Native plants belong here, so they are used to drought, temperature extremes, and alkaline soil and water. They need little irrigation to remain hydrated and act as a buffer against wildfire, and no fertilizer or special amendments.

"And they are fabulous to look at."

Kennedy said some of the group's accomplishments include organizing community plantings, creating a habitat garden above the large pond, working in conjunction with the Save Our Forest group's fifth-grade planting program led by Jackie Heyneman and Jean Dooley, and caring for the plants after the children put them in the ground.

She said the group has managed to "nearly eradicate invasive radish and honeysuckle in wetland areas."

Kennedy said the group is always looking for volunteers and "happily accepts" donations that can be made through the Fallbrook Land Conservancy website.

To learn more about NPRT, visit

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected].


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