With gloves, masks and shovels at the ready, about 250 local residents dedicated their Saturday morning to help beautify the hillsides scarred by the Elsmere Fire burn site in Newhall.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought out scores of members at the Newhall Park and Ride to pick up debris, clear the damaged irrigation affected by the blaze and spread mulch, according to Kathy Kellar, who helped organize the church’s service project.
In early August, the Elsmere Fire burned 200 acres over the course of three days, causing brief evacuations and road closures on Highway 14.
“This has been in the works for six weeks and we aimed for October,” she said. “We’ve been working with the city since their volunteer department hasn’t had volunteers because of COVID. So, we’re out here basically mulching, we ripped out the irrigation that had been burned from the fire.”
Over the course of about three hours Saturday, the volunteers of varied ages helped spread about 360 cubic yards of mulch. Their work equated to about four full-time workers, two days of work and helped save the city an estimated $1,600, according to Dan March, a city supervisor.
“It’s just one of the tenets that we try to live by on a frequent basis, to be able to go out in the community and serve,” said church member Nathan Aina. “And, so, when this came up I know that people jumped at the opportunity to be out in the community and do something good and make a difference.”
Along with his three children, Canyon Country resident Jaime Catsolas, agreed, saying the cleanup event was an opportunity for his family to help make the area “more presentable for everybody,” and reunite with their community after months of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We’ve been locked up for quite some time trying to follow the rules and so, when you have an opportunity like this, to teach your kids the right way to do things and try to reconnect a little bit, is always a good thing,” he said.
The event is among several other service projects the Santa Clarita LDS community has initiated, including repairing and cleaning areas of Whites Canyon and Bouquet Canyon, according to Kellar.