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Into the Weeds
A Green Tsunami 

A green tsunami of weeds is rising throughout the Santa Monica Mountains this spring. This living tide of vegetation threatens to drown the native plants,…

Dangerous Mushrooms 

The abundant rains this spring have been a blessing for mushroom enthusiasts in the Santa Monica Mountains. Foraging is so popular this season that it…

A Season for Toads 

The record rain California received in January is a boon for the Western toad, Anaxyrus borea (California has its own subspecies, Anaxyrus borea halophilus). This…

The Secret World of Ferns 

The native ferns of the Santa Monica Mountains are a miniature marvel, and this is the perfect winter to look for them. Newcomers to our…


Women’s Work 

March is Women’s History Month and we are starting our month-long celebration with a look at two books on the role of women in the American Revolution; a conversation with the herbalists at Wüm Essential Elements, Topanga’s new women-owned apothecary shop; reflections on life in Topanga by longtime resident and peace activist Candace Carnicelli; and a celebration of seven exceptional Topanga leaders.

There is a new big cat in the National Park Service Mountain Lion study: P-96 is a young female in the Simi Hills, at the other end of Topanga Canyon Blvd. She is now one of 10 lions that are currently part of the long-running study. 

Spring is in the air, despite COVID fatigue. Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday,  March 14 (don’t forget to spring ahead!), and the official start of Spring—the spring equinox—arrives March 20. We are debuting our new TNT seasonal almanac in this issue, with garden and nature notes and astronomical phenomena, including the dates for 2021’s three consecutive full supermoons. Let us know what you think!

It has been one full year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are still waiting for this ongoing episode of the Twilight Zone to end. Los Angeles County has had 1,200,120 cases to date, and more than 22,000 COVID-19 deaths. There have been 590 cases in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains, 372 in Malibu, 1170 in Calabasas, 984 in Agoura Hills, 759 in Pacific Palisades, and 4,755 in Woodland Hills. The numbers continue to trend downward from all time highs over the winter, but the ordeal isn’t over yet.

L.A. County remains in the purple zone, the most restrictive tier of the state’s four-level economic-reopening road map, but that may change soon. Residents are receiving mixed messages: the county is urging everyone to stay home this spring and avoid non-essential travel, but the state has announced that California stadiums, ballparks and theme parks can begin to reopen on April 1, although at drastically reduced capacity.

Vaccination remains a key part of the county’s reopening and recovery plans. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is reporting that almost 2.5 million vaccines have been administered countywide and more vaccines are beginning to be available. This week, the county is scheduled to receive 312,000 doses of vaccine, including its first shipment of Johnson and Johnson single-dose shot—53,700 doses.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks, and can reunite with unvaccinated family or friends provided that the unvaccinated are at low risk. The agency’s recommendations include keeping those gatherings small and continuing to take safety precautions in public.

One year into this disaster, the end may finally be in sight. Until then, don’t forget to wear a mask. 

Stay safe, be well.

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