MRCA Plants a New Hope

CA Assemblymember Richard Bloom pours wood chips around the base of the sapling (the same chips are banned in Malibu for being highly flammable).

A dozen oak tree saplings were planted just north of the Ventura (101) Freeway in Calabasas last week.

It’s part of a plan to convert both sides of a four-mile stretch of the freeway from a fire corridor leading toward Malibu into a green fire break. The brown hillsides along the 101 at Liberty Canyon are where the Woolsey Fire jumped the freeway the night of Nov. 8, 2018. 

Oak trees prevent the spread of the brushy grass, which in turn spreads fire rapidly. More oak trees may mean less fire.

That’s the hope of Calabasas Mayor Pro Tem Mary Sue Maurer.

“This is an exciting project to plant ember-proof plants all along the 101 corridor in different patches on either side, the most flammable at risk places from Mureau Road all the way to Cheseeboro,” Maurer said.“This type of preventative planting is not something we have seen before and it is exciting and I hope to see more.”

Funding for the new oak trees is coming from Sacramento—part of the half-billion dollars in fire prevention and mitigation money from Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s giant tax surplus.

It may take a few years for the oaks to make a substantial fire break there, as the saplings right now are about six feet high.

But you know the saying about giant oak trees growing from little acorns. The planting was not without irony, however: the baby oak trees were surrounded with decorative redwood chips, which burn like crazy and are actually illegal in Malibu for landscaping use following a March 2019 ordinance.