TCA Annual Meeting Assesses Woolsey Fire One Year Later

By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter

Temescal Canyon Association gathered for its annual meeting in the historic dining room at Temescal Gateway Park on Tuesday, December 3.

Two guest speakers were featured during the meeting: Melanie Beck, outdoor recreation planner for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, who spoke about recovery after the Woolsey fire, and Suzanne Goode, natural resources program manager, who shared experiences with the Santa Monica Mountains during her long career.

“I see heroes of mine in the audience, who I know have made such a huge difference for what we have today,” Beck said, referring to the many people who contribute to this unit of the national park system.

As the title indicated—From Devastation to Restoration—Beck shared slides to show examples of what different buildings, land areas, plants and animal populations looked before the fire, the impact and the steps to recovery.

“The good thing about this fire is that it rained after, so that allowed for amazing spring bloom,” Beck said in a moment of optimism after showing some devastating pictures of the destruction.

The Woolsey fire started on November 8, 2018, burning 75% of the fire within the first 24 hours. It was finally contained nearly two weeks later, with almost 100,000 acres burned.

One of the structures lost in the fire was the historic Paramount Ranch, located near Malibu Creek State Park.

“The interesting thing about that site is that it was actually eligible for the national register of historic places,” Beck said, but not for the famed Western town, which was featured in many films and TV shows.

Beck asked what aspect made it eligible, and members of the audience took stabs at guessing: The racetrack? The church?

It was the pavilion that marked it as a period of cultural significance, the warehouse building where picnics and events were held during the movie ranch era, Beck explained.

Beck’s presentation was followed by Goode, who shared that she was three days into her retirement after a 30-year state parks career in the CA Department of Parks and Recreation Los Angeles District.

Goode shared her passion for her profession and how she was willing to take a pay cut to participate in it. She started in 1989, with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience.

Goode also talked about the impact of the fires and what was affected. Goode shared how the destruction of the Sepulveda Adobe was “heartbreaking” after $10 million dollars had been recently spent to restore it.

The TCA meeting ended shy of its scheduled finish due to an unwell participant who is reported to be in better health now.

“We were just going to end with presenting Suzanne Goode with an honorary TCA sweatshirt to thank her for her years of service and dedication,” said TCA Secretary Susan Orenstein in an email to the Post, which they gave to her privately after the event.

“TCA was founded in 1972, in an effort to save Los Leones Park from developers,” Orenstein shared. “We have been active
ever since, protecting parkland and open spaces, in addition to providing assistance to our local Parks: Los Leones, Temescal Gateway Park, Will Rogers State Historic Park.”