BY MARGARET MAGNUS
The forecast was for rain. But with some luck and planning, it was hoped the group could work around the rain. Despite the weather forecast, Meher Mount went ahead with Restoration Weekend – March 10 & 11, 2018.
It was a good decision. A number of tasks were completed as part of the ongoing recovery from the December 4, 2018 Thomas Fire. And as usual, a few more tasks were added to the "to do" list as a result.
DAY ONE: MULCH, LOGS and ROCKS
On Day One – Saturday, March 10, 2018 – Meher Mount was engulfed in the clouds most of the morning. At 2,500-feet, it’s not unusual for the top of Sulphur Mountain to be immersed in fog, generally in the Spring.
The first tasks revolved around Baba’s Tree.
Several weeks earlier, 24-cubic yards of mulch for Baba’s Tree had been delivered to Meher Mount and were now waiting to be spread around the tree.
The mulch creates a "living soil" which sustains microbes that interact with the tree's roots and it helps to hold in moisture - both of which promote the potential recovery of Baba's Tree.
As the group worked the clouds drifted over Avatar’s Point creating a slight mist. Just as this task was finished, the drizzle started.
In addition to the mulch, there were still several piles of logs that had been harvested in early February from the dead and fallen parts of Baba’s Tree.
They needed to be transported to the storage area, covered with tarps, and left to age for future use.
Using the tractor for transport and doing some heavy lifting, the team completed the task.
The Thomas Fire fire not only created its own projects - such as the recovery of Baba's Tree and the harvesting of wood - but it also has helped motivate volunteers to address other tasks as part of an overall restoration and rejuvenation process for Meher Mount.
Thus, a hole in the ground covered by wood and a warning cone was put on the "to do" list. Earlier, Sam Ervin and Ray Johnston had dug out the hole to find a pipe junction.
They covered it with a valve box so that the junction was protected and could be easily found. Sitting next to the driveway it needed to be protected. The warning cones were an unattractive temporary solution.
So the volunteer team moved rocks from another part of the property to create a protective barrier.
As the rain started to pick up, the group covered the existing pool cover - which had burned holes from the fire - with another cover. Then, in the rain, they finished tying up the tarps protecting the wood harvested from Baba's Tree.
DAY TWO: A SURPRISE AND CLEARING THE ACCESS ROAD
Day Two - Sunday, March 11, 2018 - started with the sun peeking through the clouds, and although it never really broke through to create the new forecast of 70-degrees, the temperature was just right right for the workday.
The team decided to start with an easy and quick task - trimming the burned Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) to give the new sprouts room to grow and regenerate.
Toyon, or Christmas Berry, is an evergreen shrub bearing clusters of bright red berries. It typically can grow to a small tree about six-to-eight feet high and four-to-five feet wide. It is compatible with Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia).
James Whedon ran the chainsaw while other team members disposed of the limbs down a slight hill under the canopy. Walking back up the hill to grab another branch, Margaret Magnus noticed water coming out of the ground. "It's a spring," she said, even though that wasn't logical. "Or a leak," said Gina Franz Martenson, which was more logical. Indeed, it was leak.
Earlier, former Manager/Caretaker Buzz Glasky had noted that there seemed to be a leak somewhere from the agricultural water tank, but had not been able to locate it.
Now, having located the leak, it was still unclear which of several shut-off valves would stop the water flow. So all the water valves to the agricultural tank were turned off. The puzzle became another task on a future "to do" list.
The next project was clearing the back, emergency access road off the property which connects back to Sulphur Mountain Road. Both recently serviced chainsaws stopped working, adding a new "to do" item to figure out why. So armed with loppers and saws, the team successfully tackled the overgrown area.