Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Walk in the Park

We are so lucky to live where we do. We can walk out our door and hike in one of the most beautiful and best loved of California's State Parks.

This morning, we took our usual route, which is about a half mile through the quiet streets of our neighborhood, and then across the road into the Park, and take the trail uphill to where it loops back onto our street.

Our neighbors' homes are hidden in a grove of coastal live oaks that meanders along dry creek beds going down to Garapito Creek, and thus down to the Boulevard, and our road twists downhill beneath the trees. When you cross into the Park, the land rises up and the trail goes through a grassy meadow.

It seems to me that the wild flowers are unusually early this year. The black sage and orange monkey flower are blooming now, and I was surprised to see the grasslands dotted with the opening blossoms of Calochortus. I've seen several species of calochortus in our Santa Monica Mountains, including yellow ones and pink fuzzy ones they sometimes call cat's ear, but I think this early white one with its deep maroon throat must be calochortus catalinae. These delicate little cups rise up on their slender stems and dance in the gentle breeze.

It was still pretty cool when we entered the park, and the trail took us uphill past scented bushes of sage and white-flowered chaparral into the forest for a while, where the ferny leaves of phacelia grew along the cool banks, studded with its pretty blue flowers. There's a lot of poison oak growing along this narrow wooded trail, so it's best to be careful.

The park is heavily used by humans and horses both - evidence of the horses is obvious. The trail twists and then goes steeply uphill. We branch off onto a side trail for our journey back to our street, and come out into the chaparral again. We come to a long sloping trail that returns us to our street again.

Today I noticed how worn the trails were after the winter. The rains always take a steep toll on the trails. Usually there are calls for volunteers for trail maintenance, but I haven't heard any this spring. In some places, branches already encroached on the right of way, and thistles and weeds grew on the pathway.

It just brought home to me the ugly reality that our California Parks are threatened. State budget cuts have put our parks on the chopping block. It may be that Schwarzeneggar is using the most popular of California's parks in some infernal game of "chicken" with the legislators to force them to solve the budget problems, but he has put five parks in Los Angeles county on the list to be closed and possibly sold off - including Topanga.

This would be a terrible disaster. A "closed" park is closed only to legitimate use, maintenance and enforcement of park rules. A "closed" park increases the danger of wildfire. A "closed" park is open to destruction and invasion. If they sell the park lands, as Assembly Bill 2392 would allow if it passes, the unique beauty and rural lifestyle of the community of Topanga is threatened.

Please visit the website and learn more about this, and sign the petition. Help keep this park open and available for everyone to use. And come out yourselves and enjoy the beauty.


KathyR said...

Hey! Thanks for visiting my blog & the nice words. We're practically neighbors!

Jason said...

What an amazing place to live.

JCK said...

I had no idea that Topanga was on the list! I'll go to the site now.