[ NASA image of Earth ] Mapping Charmlee Wilderness Park
City of Malibu, CA
EiEi (Sally) Lwin (Lakewood High School)
Luz Mendez (Cerritos College)
Barbara Talalemotu (El Camino College) with:
   Christine M. Rodrigue (CSULB Geography)
   Christopher T. Lee (CSULB Geography)
   Chris Carter (LBCC Geography)
   Stephen Koletty (El Camino Geography)
   Elizabeth Fessler (Lakewood High Science)
   Linda Sanders (Lakewood High Science)
   Myles Loveall (Lakewood High Science)
   Aziz Bakkoury (CSULB Geography)
   Brian Sims (CSULB Geography)

Mapping Charmlee Wilderness Park,
City of Malibu, CA

GDEP Symposium
Long Beach, 8 August 2003

Geoscience Diversity Enhancement Project
A collaboration of the departments of:

Geological Sciences, Geography, and Anthropology
California State University
Long Beach, CA 90840

[ registered cattle ranch brand for Charmlee Ranch was a            <|-- From working cattle ranch to wilderness park --|>            [ entrance to Charmlee Wilderness Park ]


This project is the product of discussions between Dr. Rodrigue and the City of Malibu to conduct field investigations of Charmlee Wilderness Park. This work took place during the summer of 2003 as part of the Geoscience Diversity Enhancement Project (GDEP. Charmlee Wilderness Park is located in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains high above the Malibu coastline (Fig. 1).

There are virtually no detailed maps for users and managers of the Charmlee Wilderness Park. Our task, then, was to provide a series of up to date maps of the park trails, distributions of the vegetation communities, and significant geologic formations. For this purpose, we employed sophisticated remote sensing imagery, field work, and archival research.

Existing Data

Existing data were derived from the following:
  • a trail map that the Park provides for its visitors (Fig. 2)
  • a map of the major vegetation associations that had been done in 1930 for the U.S. Forest Service by A.E. Wieslander and did not match the vegetation units seen in the field (Fig. 3)
  • a large scale geological map of the Triunfo Pass Quadrangle created by Thomas Dibblee (Fig. 4)
  • a digital ortho quarter quad (DOQQ) or air photo rectified to a mapping coördinate system (Fig. 5)
  • Los Angeles County Assessor's Office parcel maps of Charmlee Ranch and other properties later fused to it to create Charmlee Wilderness Park, which yielded information on the park's present boundaries (available at
  • personal communications from Mr. Glen Howell, history docent at Charmlee Wilderness Park, who accompanied us on our first field day at the park and attended the symposium at the end of GDEP, sharing with us his knowledge of local history and showing us pertinent documents



  • In the field, Charmlee Park trails were mapped using hand held Gamin GPS units.
  • Trail intersections, view points, and other features of interest were specifically noted.
  • Back at the lab, the collected data were imported into ArcView GIS.
  • Updated trail maps were created using the GPS data overlaid on Digital Ortho Quarter Quad (DOQQ) in ArcView.


  • In the field, the GPS units were used to identify locations (training points) of specific plant communities and other features, such as recently burned areas, poison oak, and invasive exotic species.
  • A vegetation map was derived from IKONOS imagery using the unsupervised clustering model in ERDAS Imagine program.
  • GPS points were overlaid on the vegetation map to check the accuracy of the classification visually.


  • Field investigations were conducted to verify the geology indicated on the current USGS and historic Dibblee maps.
  • In the field, the GPS units were used to record locations of specific formations, outcrops, and exposures of possible interest to park visitors.
  • These results may be viewed in Thrift-Viveros et al. 2003>


Results include the following products:
  • an updated trail map showing all the trails we found and GPSed in the field (Fig. 6)
  • an updated map of the main vegetation associations found in the park as produced in an unsupervised classification of IKONOS imagery in ERDAS Imagine (Fig. 7)
  • a geological report identifying points from which a visitor can view examples of the various geological features in the park, which was produced by Thrift-Viveros et al. 2003>
  • a timeline of significant events in the evolution of the Charmlee landscape and its management Fig. 8
  • an interactive web map of Charmlee's trails, boundaries, topography, fire history, and vegetation age:
    (please make sure to use a new browser, such as Internet Explorer 6, Netscape 6 or 7, Opera 6 or 7, or Mozilla 1.3.1 or 1.4)


Initial analysis found that existing maps of Charmlee Park's trails were inadequate. Many trails were either overgrown with vegetation, washed out by storms, graded as a result of property maintenance, or completely non- existent. Our research led to the discovery of previously unmapped trails and identification of inaccuracies in existing trail maps. Inaccuracies in existing vegetation maps (Wieslander 1935) were also identified, including the following: mislabeled stands of vegetation, outlined areas identified as one vegetation association which really encompassed multiple associations, and omissions of existing plant communities. In addition, burn scars with their early successional and exotic species were identified for inclusion in future maps. As a result of extensive field verification, updated vegetation associations were accurately identified and mapped. Geologic points of interest were identified and mapped by Dr. María-Teresa Ramírez- Herrera, Mr. Woody Williams, and Ms. Dalina Thrift-Viveros, utilizing many of the techniques discussed in the paper.

Remaining work includes supervised classification of the IKONOS images utilizing training points collected in the field. These consist of points identified on the ground as belonging to a particular vegetation association and GPSing it, in order to train ERDAS Imagine to differentiate them in the way a trained field biogeographer would. It is hoped thereby that future maps can differentiate the visually and floristically distinct soft chaparral and hard chaparral assemblages. The finalized park maps will be delivered to City of Malibu officials and Charmlee Park docents, and a public presentation of our research will be given in Malibu on 26 September 2003.


We would like to give special thanks to the following people: Dr. Christopher Tom Lee, Dr.Christine M. Rodrigue, Aziz Bakkoury, for going above and beyond their call of duty to educate and equip us with a better understanding of geography. We also thank Brian Sims, Dr. Steve Koletty, Dr. Chris Carter, Elizabeth Fessler, Linda Sanders, and Myles Loveall for their tireless help and support in completing this project. In addition, appreciation goes to Dr. Chuck Herzig and Dr. Don Hallinger, for their support and encouragement and for introducing us to the GDEP program.

We also would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Elizabeth Ambos, and Crisanne Hazen for their support. Additional thanks to Glen Howell, docent at Charmlee Park, for his expertise in the local history. A super special thanks to the National Science Foundation (Grant # GEO- 0119891) for funding GDEP.


Maintained by GDEP webmaster
First placed on the web: 09/07/03
Last revised: 09/23/03