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Deer Neighbor, 

The scariest part of Halloween season in the Santa Monica Mountains is the threat of Santa Ana winds and the high fire risk they bring. We’ve been spared so far this autumn, but they are coming. This is the ideal time to review emergency wildfire preparedness, including evacuation plans for all family members, including pets. It’s also a good idea to update out-of-area emergency contacts, and make sure important documents and irreplaceable items like photos are easy to access.

Emergency preparedness is especially important for households with elderly family members and young children. Those of us with animals should make sure that carriers are accessible. People with large animals should inspect their trailers, and practice loading and unloading. 

The Topanga Coalition of Emergency Preparedness is a valuable resource for everyone in the wildland interface who lives with the threat of fire. TCEP’s emergency status page offers real time updates—an essential resource for Topanga residents but also for residents of neighboring communities in the Santa Monica Mountains: http://t-cep.org/emergencystatus/. Los Angeles County also offers alerts and fire season preparedness advice: https://ready.lacounty.gov/alerts/. 

For birds, the scariest part of October might just be the synthetic spider webbing sold as an outdoor decoration. Every year, birds, butterflies, and even bees become entangled in the tough fibers and die. The material is so strong it can even trap owls and hawks. It’s also a potential hazard to household pets. Biodegradable decorations, including pumpkins and corn stocks, are wildlife-safe options. 

October brings a host of seasonal activities, from the Paramount Ranch Sonic Boom Festival and the Calabasas pumpkin festival at Juan Bautista de Anza Park in Agoura Hills, both on October 16, to the “Night of the Jack” walk-through event at King Gillette Ranch, which runs through October 31.

There’s a new event this October that we hope will become an annual tradition. The first ever Malibu Search and Rescue 5K/10K Run takes place at Paramount Ranch on October 30. This event will raise funds for essential equipment urgently needed by the all-volunteer SAR team. Whether or not one attends the event, this is an organization that deserves the community’s support. We have all the details in our Newsbeat section.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is often described as a patchwork of state, local and federal open space. A plan is under consideration this month to add a major missing piece of that patchwork quilt. The board of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority will be voting on a resolution authorizing a grant application to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for the Deer Creek Beach/Mansdorf property. This spectacular stretch of mountains and coastline is just west of Malibu, in unincorporated Ventura County. It consists of 32 contiguous parcels, totaling approximately 1,241.5 acres, and includes more than two miles of coastline.

This property, once owned by Aerospace Lines entrepreneur Lee Mansdorf, was once slated for a marina and other high density development. Those plans were never realized, leaving this stretch of coastline almost completely pristine and unspoiled. It’s been on the priority acquisitions list for the Coastal Commission and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy from the beginning. Acquisition is now in reach. The 2022-23 adopted State budget includes a $10,000,000 member request of General Fund money to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy specifically for this property. For those of us who have followed this saga for years, this is a great moment, a rare happy ending.

The fate of the Mansdorf property, like so much of the key open space in the Santa Monica Mountains, has hinged over the years on decisions made by the people we elect to represent us. Ballots for the November election will be arriving around the same time this issue of TNT goes out. Please take the time to vote. It really does matter, sometimes a lot.

Don’t miss the full Hunter’s Moon, on October 9. Skywatchers may catch a shooting star as well. The Orionid meteor shower peaks on the night of October 20. It won’t be a spectacular display, but it will  have the potential to generate meteors throughout October. If you see one, don’t forget to make a wish.

Stay safe, be well.

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