Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Fallbrook residents advocate for trees Part 2 of 2

FALLBROOK – The year 1997 was a busy year for Save Our Forest with two major happenings. A grant from California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection awarded Save Our Forest $28,400 for 410 new trees. This was a huge undertaking, but Fallbrook businesses jumped in to help.

Advanced Concrete cut concrete for tree sites, and Gene Hayden Bobcat Specialties did the rough digging of the holes for planting. A SOF appeal to AmeriCorps to come and spend three months in the community came through. Housed at Guajome Lake Campgrounds, 15 college-aged people arrived every weekday to complete that project. They were named the Untouchables.

The grant also provided funds to create a video named Necklace of Leaves. It was acclaimed nationally by the grantor and the Nation Arbor Day Foundation as an educational tool to detail the step by step process to work through local government to plant trees. An update is being developed. View the original at

The Pico Promenade

A developer in Fallbrook donated 100 15-gallon trees bought in excess of their needs. Then Supervisor John MacDonald's office helped SOF to obtain permission to plant 100 trees on the banks of the open waterway that extends from the end of Pico Street at Elder Street four blocks to Fallbrook Street.

This segment of a proposed extension of Pico Street is a 70' county easement on county maps dated 1895. The road never materialized. SOF planted trees on both east and west sides of what is now called the Pico Promenade. SOF has maintained the trees since those early days.

California natives were planted along the pathway in later years with funds from an SDG&E grant acquired by the Boys & Girls Club for their after school program. SOF helped them implement their grant by working weekly with children ferried from the various school sites to plant natives along the pathway.

In the true spirit of Fallbrook, two other organizations have joined in the enhancement and upkeep of the Promenade. They are the Fallbrook Village Association and the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance (FBA since 2007).

The FVA received a County Neighborhood Revitalization grant to upgrade the well-worn dirt footpath to stabilized decomposed granite. The FBA provided trash cans, cigarette disposal units, graffiti and trash removal. Groups provided handmade wooden benches that were later upgraded by individuals or groups to plastic benches along the way.

Years ago, the California Western Railroad track ran immediately west of that waterway after it left the current Major Market retail center. SOF has created two kiosks on the Promenade to show that route. It had a short spur line to a packing plant, currently Hawthorne Feed Store, and lemon packing plant, currently Citrus Plaza. It curved sharply at Elder Street, crossed Main Avenue and continued to the Fallbrook Depot, which was located on Alvarado Street, at the existing Sheriff's station.

Alvarado parking lot meets county requirements

In 2000, a grant from California ReLeaf provided the first 18 trees planted in this major parking lot in downtown. In the year 2007, the long process of caring for donated Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elms) in 15 gallon containers, transferring them to larger pots, then 36" boxes, then into-the-ground, culminated to create shade for the entire lot.

The Village Rotary provided parking stops; the Rotary Club of Fallbrook supported maintenance. Fallbrook High School's Art Department decorated the wooden boxes by painting them during that time frame.

Support of Fallbrook Land Conservancy's mission

Since joining the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, SOF has supported the FLC mission in many ways. These include:

1. Restoring native growth to their preserves. Several of the donated properties were basically open space or abandoned groves. In 1994, the Dinwiddie Preserve property was acquired using a bequest from the Nancy Dinwiddie estate to FLC. It had been a gathering place for local rodeos for many years prior. SOF organized a tree planting at Dinwiddie, enlisting a Boy Scout Troop and 4-H volunteers to help plant more oaks and sycamores. Later, school children planted natives at Heller's Bend Preserve and then again at Dinwiddie Preserve. It was the forerunner of the Environmental Education Program.

2. In 2004, SOF introduced the two-year Environmental Education program at La Paloma Elementary. Fourth grade students were given a brief educational presentation to learn the importance of protecting the environment. They potted tiny native seedlings and grew them for a year at their school.

The next year, as fifth grade students, they planted the seedlings in a county open space just west of their playground adjacent to Strawberry Fields. From that beginning, SOF met with the school district administration and developed an agreement for the current Environmental Education Program.

Aimed at the fourth and fifth grade level, it augments the curriculum and encourages the children to give back to their community, emphasizing protection of the environment by restoring native habitat. A partnership for seven schools has developed with the six FUESD schools and now Vallecitos in Rainbow.

At planting time, students are bused to the two original preserves as well as Los Jilgueros, Monserate Mountain, and the new Gird Valley Preserve on Gird Road. With some 500 students at each school, this amounts to thousands of natives being restored at the FLC nature preserves.

3. SOF helped the development of Palomares Park by planting trees that grow well in the area as well as a native plant selection to view. Sculpture pieces have transformed it into a Sculpture Garden. The Fallbrook Garden Club has recently helped with total landscape renovation.

The hugely successful tree planting organized by the FLC in the early 1990s must be remembered as it brought 434 native trees to Fallbrook. There were 700+ volunteers from all over Southern California who came to plant trees in one day at the first FLC preserve, Los Jilgueros.

This land, which was formerly an avocado grove and agricultural land was acquired through a donation from Jean Schulz in honor of her mother, Pamela Vander Linden First came the trees planted at Los Jilgueros, then a Firescape Garden, the second such garden in the entire state. It was designed and planted by John Dahl and Roger Boddaert.

Twenty years ago, SOF began work to enhance the main roads entering Fallbrook. The eastern entry on Mission near Old 395 was the starting point at the existing flagpole. With county permission, 12 oak trees were planted along with many native plants in what had been the County Road leading to Rainbow before the development of Hwy 15. The surrounding fence was often draped with signs made by the military families welcoming their Marines returning from overseas.

To dignify and enhance this tribute, SOF planted the oaks, the Chamber of Commerce erected the flagpole, installed lighting, and SOF found a beautiful rock perfect for a bronze dedication plaque.

The southern entry on South Mission Road was the next stage. In 1999, CalTrans (California Transportation Department) began the widening of the road to a four-lane divided highway. The county road easement was close to 30' wide in a few segments.

SOF obtained a California Transportation Department Environmental Mitigation grant for $174,500. This provided 1750 trees and shrubs to be planted on both sides of that divided highway. The purpose was to offset the added pollution that would result.

Because of the terrain, not safe for volunteers in most areas, it included funding for a professional landscaping company to complete the design. It was implemented in 2000 and 2001 and included a Tree Planting Festival, pancake breakfast, which involved support from Camp Pendleton Marine Corp base providing huge tents. SOF volunteers planted a large segment that was safe for volunteers. The rest was done by the professional landscaping company.

Other SOF projects include:

Routine maintenance of the trees in the community forest. Two work parties a month are routinely scheduled with the exception of August and December. A maximum of two hours provides needed attention. Since the trees are now mature, major pruning must be done professionally depending on community support for that purpose.

Constantly abused by illegal dumping, SOF joined the County Adopt-A-Road program and adopted Old 395. They have a trash pickup day monthly from East Mission to Hwy 76. Although the county program is a commitment of pickup four times a year, it is not enough on 395.

The SOF Tree Steward Program is the care and maintenance of trees. Volunteers water and maintain one or more trees, watering and weeding as needed. They bring their own hoses and spend an hour or so slowly watering to encourage deep root growth and not seek surface moisture that will cause roots to erupt surrounding hard surfaces causing costly repair.

The SOF Tree and Bench Adoption program has provided the Tree Maintenance Fund for years. The original benches were handmade wooden benches. After many years of sealing and sanding to be done again and again, the Rotary Club of Fallbrook donated funds to replace the benches with low care recycled plastic benches, a huge improvement for the community.

There are 47 benches in the community. In 2019, six local artists volunteered to take a retired bench and create an Art Bench for auction. It proved to be very successful at a party in the Village Square.

Creating Pocket Parks started when the National Arbor Day Foundation provided funds in 2019 for a planting on Arbor Day. A small pocket park was developed right in the heart of town. SOF planted some beautiful trees and placed a spectacular bench in honor of Roger Boddaert who has played such a huge role in creating and developing the Fallbrook Treescape Plan, the community forest.

Unfortunately, the property was sold and the bench had to be moved. It is now at a beautiful site at FLC's Palomares Park. At a site on Alvarado at the Fallbrook School of the Arts, a pocket park has been dedicated to Rick Windbigler whose support with equipment for the last 30 years is monumental. His generosity is unbounded.

SOF expanded its enhancement of the community. The California Invasive Plant Council (CAL-IPC) works to inform the public of trees, palms, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and ground covers that are pests that consume open space crowding out natives. Their byline is "Give them an inch, they will take an acre."

A huge stand of Penisetumsetaceum, invasive fountain grass at East Mission Road and Brandon Street, was removed and replaced with trees and shrubs. This invasive fountain grass spread has become more and more alarming, in some cases being cultivated by unknowing residents. SOF hopes to raise awareness and work with other organizations to get the situation under control. Education is the key.

From the early drawing of a Fallbrook Treescape Plan in 1992 provided by Roger Boddaert until today, SOF/FLC has brought an enhanced and healthier environment to Fallbrook by planting somewhere around 3,000 trees in the community.

Submitted by Save Our Forest.


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