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Volunteers help restore Rosemont Preserve

A dedicated group of conservationists brought together 30 members of the La Crescenta community recently to help restore land and stabilize a hazardous hillside.

The Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy and its affiliate, Friends of the Rosemont Preserve, sought the help of landscaping group FormLA to address the seasonal risk of natural mudslides or wildfires on a portion of 7.75 acres of open land at the northern end of Rosemont Boulevard.

For the past two winters, the Rosemont Preserve officials have been searching for a way to help a resident who lives nearby and is worried about erosion that could damage property. Many yards belonging to homes overlooking the bluff also flow into the preserve.

"The Rosemont Preserve is an incredible example of how one fairly small piece of property can bring so many various people from our neighborhood together, and with great joy in their hearts, work on a specific project," said Paul Rabinov, co-chair of the Rosemont Preserve.

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As the first phase of a long-range restoration and conservation plan, members of the community volunteered their time over two days to plant several native species, remove unwanted grasses and conduct other safety procedures before the start of the rainy season.

Cassy Aoyagi, co-founder and president of FormLA, helped guide volunteers and provide project planning after learning of the preserve's problem on the slope. Restoring the habitat with native plants adapted to California's soil does a better job of resisting wildfires and stabilizing steep slopes, according to Aoyagi.

"What this also did for the volunteers, it informed them of the strategy that people can stabilize and preserve a slope and to save water," Aoyagi said. "Also, [they realized] it's not an instant activity. We're going for the long haul, for centuries of slope stability."

The restoration of about 2,500 square feet of land is the start of a five-year plan to deal with the natural disaster challenges of the open arroyo and foothill area.

"We learned a great deal in the course of this pilot project, most notably that the concept of combining beautification with fire protection is valid and valuable," said John Howell, chief executive officer of the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy in a statement. "It's fulfilling to look back at a hillside and know we've done what we can to protect our neighbors."

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Jeff Landa, jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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