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The Nature Observer 

Suzanne Guldimann is the editor of the Topanga New Times, and also TNT’s resident naturalist. She was recently asked to give a talk on being…

The Bear Truth 

We have a new neighbor in the Santa Monica Mountains. On April 23, National Park Service biologists captured and radio-collared a 210-pound black bear in…

Butterflies: Mythic Beauty 

Backyard Butterflies Fly, white butterflies, out to sea, Frail pale wings for the winds to try, Small white wings that we scarce can see Fly….

The Malibu Railway War 

From the moment the first transcontinental railroad steamed across the county in 1869, the nation had train mania. In California, that mania reached a fevered…


Local Sting Operations in Progress 

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies. 

― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Mid-August brings blazing heat, long evenings under the stars, perfect beach weather with ocean temperatures in the upper 60s, and the promise for surfers of a Southern swell,but it’s over all too fast. The school year is already beginning, the glorious freedom of summer vacation coming to an end. Topanga Elementary Charter School children will be heading back to the classroom on August 16, and the local private schools are also  getting ready to welcome students. 

No one really knows what to expect this fall, with the shadow of COVID-19 still looming in the background, but for everyone embarking on a new school year it will be an adventure, one with the power to make memories that last a lifetime—here’s hoping they will be good ones. At TNT, we are introducing a new “Kidsbeat” section, with news and information for local families. We welcome submissions, email us at

The TNT crew is not yet ready to say goodbye to summer. Almost everyone here is taking to the open road this month, heeding the call of adventure. We’ll be sharing our travels all month. Look for camping adventures in the Pacific northwest from Saori Wall; reflections on the history of public land in America from Jimmy P. Morgan, who is camping in lakeside solitude on National Forest land in Colorado; and some practical, long-distance car travel tips from Elizabeth Guldimann, writing from rural, small town Kansas. 

We’ll have more postcards from the road in our next issue, and if you, dear reader, are headed for adventure, please send us a postcard. We would love to share your travels.

There are three new web cams at the site of the future Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing over the 101 at Liberty Canyon, in anticipation of the start of construction. Watch live at

The cameras, installed with help from wildlife remote camera expert Johanna Turner, are  a way for the world to participate in the construction of what is projected to be the world’s largest and more ambitious wildlife crossing. Those of us with the crossing in our backyard already have a front row seat for this remarkable project, and perhaps some trepidation over the potential for traffic impacts. 

Caltrans reports that overnight lane and ramp closures could begin as soon as August 15, but that at least one lane in each direction will remain open at all times. At closed ramps, detour routes will be provided. Construction preparations are already underway. Crews are currently relocating utility lines, moving them out of the construction zone. Commuters can follow Caltrans District 7 on social media for updates: CaltransDist7.

Those of us who depend on this stretch of the 101 need to plan ahead, add extra time to travel calculations, and remember to be patient. 

There was more good news this week on the environmental front: two of California’s three wolf packs have produced a total of 11 pups this year. California’s gray wolves are critically endangered and the population is still incredibly fragile, but that these intelligent, determined animals are reestablishing their presence in the northern part of our state on their own and after a hundred-year absence is astonishing and heartening. A day may come when wolves also return to their ancestral homes in the southern ranges. It’s a living reminder of why wildlife corridors, and wildlife crossings are needed throughout our state. Liberty Canyon is just the beginning.

Travel on our canyon roads and the coast highway has been challenging this month, not just for wildlife. A series of accidents have resulted in serious injuries requiring medevac airlifts and resulting in traffic that was snarled for hours. We can all help not only wildlife but each other by slowing down and using extra caution—the destination will usually still be there, even if it takes a little more time than usual to reach it.

Tonight is a good night to catch a falling star. The Perseid meteor shower peaks after midnight. The light from the waning full moon will dominate the sky and make it harder to see the meteors this year, but it’s still worth a look. And don’t forget to make a wish.

Stay safe, be well.

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