History in the Making

By: Manny Gomez

The true definition of hard work was introduced to me by my father who till this day has his own business in landscaping. As soon as I turned 6, every summer and weekends he would take me to The Santa Monica Mountains, where he had a client who owned a ranch in Malibu. The second I stepped foot on that ranch, I felt like the character Max from, Where the Wild Things Are. I was amazed by the peacocks, and the numerous trails that this land had. It expanded my imagination in ways that I can now say is a part of my life. My father had a crew of about 10-12 men who did fuel mod on this land which was roughly 8 1/2 acres. After witnessing their strategies, I soon became a part of their team.

In 2009 my older brother started working at Mountains Restoration Trust. At that time, I was working at a landscaping company. One day I asked him, “what is it that you do exactly?”, and as he was explaining it to me, I realized how interested I was on the topic, not only because the way he described it but it reminded me of how I fell in love with nature in the first place. Soon after that I took a chance and started volunteering by going with him to help weed whack certain sites. Shortly after that, MRT offered me a job. I started in 2010 and haven’t turned my back since.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the Masson House it was extremely scary, but then as I was walking through the kitchen and the living room my fears became into questions as I saw the historic pictures hanging on the walls, they caught my attention because I was drawn to every facial expression I saw on all of the pictures. All of the faces were serious and showed that they all had unique stories to tell. At that moment, I knew that MRT was more than just learning about plants. There was so much history and knowledge that came with this opportunity that I couldn’t wait to discover more about. This will be my 9th year at MRT, and you can consider me as one of those people who love what they do for a living

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Making LA Home

by MRT Board Member, Jo Powe

When I first came to Los Angeles in 1983 I was a little skeptical about whether I would ever feel at home in such a sprawling metropolis. I rented a small apartment in Santa Monica and went for long bike rides along the coast in order to get outdoors and find a connection to nature. I certainly loved the sandy beaches, but I found them way too crowded. Then one day a friend of mine asked me to go hiking with her in Topanga State Park and that was all it took to make me fall in love with Los Angeles.

Before that hike I had not realized what an extraordinary resource the Santa Monica Mountains were. My focus had been on my job in a downtown law firm and getting to the beach whenever I could. The Santa Monicas were just these hills in the distance. But once I started exploring them I realized just how rugged and wild they are.

After spending many a Saturday hiking in the Santa Monicas I decided I wanted to live closer to the mountains so my husband and I moved with our two young sons to Monte Nido. Our children grew up exploring the creeks and trails of the Santa Monica Mountains and to this day we all spend as much time as we can enjoying our nation’s largest urban wilderness park.

Shortly after we moved to Monte Nido I discovered there was a nonprofit land trust called Mountains Restoration Trust which had recently launched its Commemorative Oaks program in Malibu Creek State Park. I signed up for one of MRT’s volunteer days to remove invasive non-natives and help plant thousands of oak trees. There I met Jo Kitz who taught me so much about the extraordinary ecosystem of the Santa Monica Mountains. She gave me such a deep appreciation for just how productive this ecosystem is and how important it is to protect it.

In 2010 I was invited to join the Board of MRT and I eagerly accepted. To me the Santa Monica Mountains are what make Los Angeles special.

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