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Acorn Planting Seeks to Revive Ex-Oak Grove

Volunteers planted about 1,200 acorns last weekend to help rehabilitate 45 acres of a former oak grove in Calabasas that had been used as grazing land and a parking lot.

“I think this was pretty much a landmark event, probably the biggest acorn planting we’ve ever had around here,” said Rosi Dagit, arborist for the city of Calabasas and organizer of the planting. “There’s certainly room for this to grow--no pun intended. There was interest expressed in doing this in other places.”

The area of Malibu Creek State Park known as Torpin Plain was a thriving oak grove, Dagit said, until Spanish settlers introduced aggressive grasses to the land and began grazing cattle there. The property was later purchased by 20th Century Fox, which used it as a parking lot during the filming of movies such as “Planet of the Apes” and “How Green Is My Valley.”

Growth of new oaks was further stifled by nearby development, which diminished the population of acorn-collecting birds in the area. The land became state parkland in 1974.

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Dagit said that, with luck, most of the acorns from 600 valley oaks and 600 coast live oaks will become 15-foot trees within eight to 10 years. Several dozen walnuts also were planted, Dagit said.

More than 120 volunteers turned out for the planting Saturday, sponsored by the city of Calabasas. The planting had originally been scheduled for earlier this month, but was postponed so that crews fighting the region’s wave of wildfires could use the plain as a parking lot.

Many of the volunteers, who came from as far away as San Diego an Palos Verdes, took acorns and seedlings home to plant, Dagit said.

“The great thing was the enthusiasm for the project,” Dagit said. “Once everyone was invested in it, a lot of people wanted to come back to help make sure the seedlings grow into trees. Oaks are big and beautiful, and people identify them with the ambience of the landscape around here.”

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Dagit said she plans to organize a follow-up event for March, to check on the progress of the seedlings and, possibly, protect them with small cages.


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