Fantastic Field Trips

Outdoor education programs funded by Havasi Wilderness Foundation underway at Topanga State Park

Since 2010, Havasi Wilderness Foundation has been helping to fund the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains’ outdoor education programs. Programs take place at Topanga State Park and Malibu Lagoon, each with their own unique focus. On Wednesday, October 17th, we visited a program at Topanga State Park, where children learn about the ecology and natural history of the Chaparral environment, and how the Native American tribes of the area lived off the land. Castlebay Lane Elementary’s 4th graders were participating in the field trip on this bright and sunny Wednesday.

Students from Castlebay Lane Elementary arrive at Topanga State Park

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Havasi Wilderness Foundation gives grant to California State University Channel Islands

via csuci.edu

The second largest of the California Channel Islands, Santa Rosa Island is a unique and invaluable site with a wealth of important natural resources and historical remains. The Arlington Springs Man, potentially the oldest remains of a human skeleton in the United States, was discovered on this island and is presumably twenty-six times older than American written history. Remains of the Pygmy Mammoth, a Pleistocene species unique to the Channel Islands, have been discovered on Santa Rosa Island as well. Presently, Santa Rosa Island is home to several species that are only found in the Channel Islands, including the critically endangered Island Fox.

This August the Havasi Wilderness Foundation gave a grant to California State University Channel Islands to support the initiation of a research and education project on Santa Rosa Island. CSUCI has begun a partnership with the National Park Service to collaborate on this project, however, additional funds were sought to provide logistical support and cover start-up costs for the project. Havasi Wilderness Foundation is enthusiastic about this project as it aligns with the foundation’s mission. Funds will help establish a research station on the island and implement hands-on educational programs in the fields of ecology, archaeology, and paleontology. Graduate and undergraduate students will gain fieldwork experience in this unique ecosystem and learn from professionals visiting the research station. Additionally, the project will provide information for making sound management decisions in the future regarding the ecology and natural resources of the island.

Understanding Wildfire in the Chaparral of Southern California


Toyon, or California Holly (Heteromeles arbutifolia) re-sprouts following a fire.

Whether naturally ignited or caused by man, fires are an inevitable part of life in Southern California. California’s history is dotted with wildfires, many severe and engulfing large tracts of the landscape. The 2009 Santa Barbara Fire, October 2007 wildfires, Cedar Fire of 2003, and 1993 Malibu Fire, among others, are recent memories of particularly devastating events. Undoubtedly, more wildfires will occur in the future.

As with Earthquakes, the question is not if the next wildfire will occur, but when. Records indicate that infrequent wildfires are a natural part of the ecology of the region we live in, although the interval between fires has shortened in recent times. In the Chaparral biome, the scrubland community that encompasses much of the Coast Ranges and foothills of several interior mountain ranges, the average fire interval is thirty to forty years. In certain areas the typical interval between fires can drop as low as ten to fifteen years, and span up to one hundred years in others. It has been estimated that the fire regime was much less frequent before human settlement: between thirty and one hundred fifty years. It has only been within the past century that the interval has shortened dramatically.

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Getting People Back to Nature


If you grew up several decades ago, it is likely that you can recall your weekends or after-school hours spent playing outdoors. Your parents left it up to you to entertain yourself, whether that be playing hockey in the street with the neighborhood kids or climbing trees with your brother or sister in the woods behind your house. For most of you, those times spent outdoors are fond memories, however it may seem second nature or almost instinctual that you do not expect or encourage your own children to engage in the same activities as you once did.

It is no secret that the children of today spend a great deal of time indoors. Electronic immersion, indoor confinement, and structured activities have become a social norm. Children are expected to spend several hours inside the classroom, complete their homework, and enjoy their leisure time watching television, playing video games, or participating in organized sports. What is more surprising, however, is the degree of disparity in time spent in nature between generations.

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