FALLBROOK – Every month the Fallbrook Land Conservancy posts on its homepage, https://www.fallbrooklandconservancy.org/, volunteer opportunities designed to enhance the quality of life in the community.
Susan Liebes, board chair for the local conservation organization, explained that the five active parts of the FLC volunteer effort are Native Plant Restoration Team, Save Our Forest, Wildlife Sculpture Garden Committee, Trails Committee and Old Highway 395 Cleanup Group. All these groups draw on residents that range in age from very young elementary school students up through those in their retirement years.
The group with the "longest roots into the community is Save Our Forest," she said.
Dedicated Save Our Forest volunteers plant and maintain trees along Mission Road, Main Street and other roads throughout Fallbrook. According to Liebes, arborists and trained volunteers also counsel residents on proper tree maintenance, and, when requested, they suggest ways to eliminate non-native species and those with a high-fire potential from the community.
Supported by a grant from San Diego Gas & Electric, Save Our Forest also hosts FLC's Environmental Education program. Several local elementary schools along with children from the Boys & Girls Club of North San Diego County participate in a broad effort to foster a relationship between young children and the local environment.
In the year-long effort, children, under the guidance of other volunteers, help restore habitat along FLC's publicly accessible trails, including those at the Monserate Mountain and Los Jilgueros preserves. Throughout the year students assist in planting gallon-sized native plants in FLC's preserves.
Closely related to the Save Our Forest effort is the Native Plant Restoration Team, which participates with Save Our Forest in the Environmental Education effort.
The Native Plant Restoration Team focuses on removing non-native plants on preserves owned by FLC. Their charter is to replace undesirable plants with those that meet several strict requirements. During the year, they also removed several trees that competed with native species in Los Jilgueros Preserve to allow better water access by the sycamores, oaks, cottonwoods and willows native to Fallbrook.
Another notable project in 2022 was to remove the water-intensive Bermuda grass at FLC's Palomares House and replace it with native, drought tolerant plantings. Funding to support the project came from San Diego County's Watersmart Rebate Program and SoCalWater$mart. Liebes added that volunteer Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Boy Scouts from Troop 731 provided much of the "grunt-work" for the removal. The Rotary Club of Bonsall and FLC's Native Plant Restoration Team assisted in planting native perennials and ground cover.
While Save Our Forest and the Native Plant Restoration Team are high-profile efforts, FLC also has an active Trails Committee. One visible project brought into being is the trail system at the newly opened 40-acre Gird Valley Preserve. In 2023, this group will also continue to enhance other public access trail systems maintained by FLC.
Closely related to the work of those three committees is development and expansion of the Wildlife Sculpture Garden at the Palomares House. This acre-plot of land adjacent to the venerable and iconic headquarters for FLC is home to several sculptures that artistically recreate some of the prominent wildlife species that make the Fallbrook area their home. Members of the Wildlife Sculpture Garden Committee maintain the garden's walkway, plant drought-tolerant species throughout the garden and prune several towering trees that provide shade during the hot summer months.
Liebes said the group also has an ongoing effort to clean up litter along Old Highway 395. Volunteers work along the four-mile strip of road from East Mission Road south to Route 76, picking up trash for appropriate disposal and keeping it out of local waterways and the ocean.
All of these efforts by FLC are designed to enhance the charm of the community, protect open space and reduce in part our carbon footprint, Liebes said. FLC volunteer events are open to the public, and all ages are welcome.
Submitted by Fallbrook Land Conservancy.