Beaconsfield Canyon is yet another of those gems within a few minutes’ drive of Montclair Village. Somehow, in the heart of all the high-end residential development here, a lovely half-wild canyon managed to survive waves of home building, a rain of exotic species, and the necklace of old tires and construction debris that still adorns the upper reaches of the north-facing slope. And, as with the majority of the community-based restoration projects featured in these pages, the astonishing success that the local volunteers have achieved here has all come about in just the past five years or so.
Somehow — and I would love to know how — the idea of citizens taking ownership over our own lands in order to restore them to increasingly intact, functioning, and self-sustaining native ecosystems seems to have swept the country within roughly this same five-year period, to the point where it is no longer so much an idea as a movement.
This view is from the canyon entrance, looking east up the drainage. You can make out some bay trees on the north-facing slope, live oaks on the south-facing slope, and blue elderberries in bloom. Note the striking (and increasing!) paucity of exotic invasives in this view. Not what one would have expected in an urban park a few short years ago, when ivy, periwinkle, French broom, and neglect were the order of the day. But that day is over! :-D