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All About the Oaks

Jim Crouch, a retired school teacher, is partnering with The Escondido Creek Conservancy to grow seedlings to help restore oak woodland habitat along the Escondido Creek watershed. Passionate about the environment and inspired by the Re-Oak California initiative, Jim hopes his work will offset carbon emissions and create a better tomorrow for his grandkids.

“It’s also something peaceful,” Crouch said. “That’s 90 percent of my oak story.”

In recent years, the oak story in Southern California has appeared beneath grim headlines. Tens of thousands of the majestic trees have died after attacks by the gold spotted oak borer, aka GSOB, the Asian polyphagous shot hole borer, and the deadly fungi they transmit, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension. Some of the trees are more than 300 years old.

On our own preserves, we have encountered the GSOB and are working to manage the pest.

In November, Jim collected more than 600 acorns from our properties from two species: coast live oaks and Engelmann oaks. Other Engelmann acorns came from private property in Mountain Meadow where, after noticing healthy trees, Crouch wrote letters to 10 homeowners asking if he could come by to collect the acorns. He received two “Yes” answers. One of them was from a former student.

Jim’s acorns are germinating in the backyard of his Escondido home in planting beds he designed. Earlier this month, we planted several of his seedlings at our Quarry Preserve.

Crouch says he is careful to disinfect his tools and the so-called “Deepots” in which he plants the acorns.

This spring, more of the seedlings Crouch has nurtured at his suburban home will return to the Conservancy’s preserves to be transplanted. With dedication and highest hopes, we wish to help the seedlings grow into thick and sturdy trees to preserve the genetics from our local forest and restore oak habitat along the Escondido Creek watershed.

Staff contact: Jamison Lauria, 707-499-0854 or [email protected]