Members tell us what they think, by Marilyn Goldhaber

In February of 2006, we mailed surveys to 385 members and former members of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy. One hundred and thirty, or 34%, responded. Most of the respondents (92%) report close contact with Claremont Canyon by hiking in, driving through, or just viewing the landscape, presumably from their homes (over half). A few hearty souls (5%) report hiking the canyon daily and many more (49%) do so once a month or more. About a quarter drive through every day.

Interest in Conservancy Goals:

Members show considerable interest in the Conservancy’s three main goals: fire safety (96% report interest), ecological health/natural resources (96%), and public access (90%). Founding Sponsors are more passionate than regular members about fire safety (75% versus 51% put fire safety in the highest category of interest). Both member groups are equally passionate about the canyon’s natural resources (57% in both groups put plants, animals, and birds in the highest category of interest).

Although the Conservancy has no current plans for the canyon’s Harwood Creek (sometimes called Claremont Creek), 95% of members express support for future creek and watershed work. About 69% strongly support this work and another 26% say “it’s OK.” Litter patrols received good support from members (95%), but not as strong as did other concerns: 46% of members strongly support litter patrols while 49% say “it’s OK.”

Approximately 90% of respondents support trail improvement for public access (53% strongly support while 37% mildly support). Another 10% are unsure or do not support work on trails. Members are somewhat in favor of improving roadside turnouts, with 30% strongly supporting and 53% saying “it’s OK.” Another 17% do not want to take on the role of improving roadside turnouts or are unsure whether this falls under the goals of the Conservancy.

Support for Conservancy Projects:

Approximately 96% of members are in favor of removal of eucalyptus trees and replanting deforested areas with native redwoods. An even higher percentage (98%) of members support the management of invasive, fire-prone, exotic weeds along roadsides and trails: 83% strongly support, with another 15% saying “it’s OK.” A high percentage (95%) also supports buffer zone work for fire safety: 66% strongly support and 29% say “it’s OK.”

The Conservancy is eager to work with the public agencies on their lands and help them obtain grants and pursue line items in their budgets for this work. About 94% of members support the Conservancy’s working with the public agencies to encourage them, as much as possible, to do the necessary work to accomplish Conservancy goals.

Fuel Reduction Canyon Wide:

Some of our members advocate reducing all fuels on public lands throughout Claremont Canyon for fire safety reasons (14%), while others say that a canyon-wide approach is too costly and disturbs too much habitat: 58% support removal/reduction of non-natives only, 8% do not support a canyon-wide approach, and 20% report not knowing how to proceed on this complex issue. Discussions with the landowners on managing fuel farther into the canyon will continue, with input from environmental and fire safety experts.

Private Responsibility for Fire Safety:

The Conservancy believes that all parties share in the responsibility of promoting fire safety in Claremont Canyon, including the homeowner. While 36% of members were unable to say whether they had taken additional measures over what the City requires to achieve defensible space on their own land (not sure, not applicable, left blank), 44% said “yes” that they had taken additional measures. Another 20% said “no” that they had not.

Willingness to Participate:

About 20% of survey respondents say they would like to participate occasionally, even often, in outdoor work, hikes and social gatherings. Most of the remaining members contribute by regularly offering dues and donations.