Station Fire and Angeles National Forest Update 05/23/2012

Steve Messer and I attended this meeting, which, as the last one on this topic, was hosted by the Sierra Club at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

The meeting was opened by Don Bremner of the Forest Committee who immediately mentioned the Sierra Club mantra of “protecting the forest” and noted their close cooperation with the USFS and their trail work. He introduced Tom Contreras and Juana Torres, one of the Sierra Club’s professional staff.  Juana Torres noted the Club was a member of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Group which is focused on expanding wilderness areas and supporting the creation of a National Recreation Area out of the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel River.  She asked people to support them and show up at the Forest Service’s meeting May 30th which will get input on what should be done with the remaining roadless areas in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Tom introduced the USFS staff with him, which included Mike McIntyre, L.A. River District Ranger, Arturo Delgado, Acting ANF (natural) Resources Officer, Nathan Sill, Acting ANF Biologist, Steve Bear, a Resources Officer and Forestry specialist, and Sherry Rollman, Public Affairs Officer.  Tom opened the presentation by talking about his background and the unique nature of the ANF, being so close to so many millions of people.  He reiterated the Forest Services goals as 1. Sustainable Recreation. 2. Watershed Protection and Restoration. 3. Fire Management. 4. Workplace safety and worker health.

Nathan then covered their efforts to assist in the recovery of endangered wildlife that had been impacted by the fire. This included Arroyo toads, red legged frogs, three species of fish, and the California spotted owl.  This affects recreation in that some closure areas are designed to protect endangered species.  Next Steve talked about the reforestation efforts.  About 36,000 acres of forest (trees, not chaparral) burned and about 2/3 of that was so deforested that natural regeneration would not occur.  As about half of the deforested area is not suitable for replanting, the Forest Service is planning on replanting 11,000 acres with local pine species and incense cedar.  They have a target density of surviving trees, so they will be revisiting planted areas each year and adding trees until they reach the goal.  As has been reported in the papers, this is being done by contractors and the Tree People organization with at least some of the funding coming from the National Forest Foundation’s Carbon Capital Fund.

Finally Mike talked about current plans to open more areas by Memorial Day.  It was hard to tell exactly where because the maps did not project well.  Most areas west of 3N27, the Fall Creek Fire Road, will be opened, including Condor Peak, Trail Canyon, and Stone Canyon. .There are still a lot of downed trees in the areas that will be newly opened.  One priority for the Forest Service and Student Conservation Association crews will be the Pacific Crest Trail.  I believe more areas north and west of the Angeles Crest Highway will also be opened.  The Arroyo Seco will remain closed above Paul Little Picnic Area.

They took some questions at the end.  As has come out in the meetings for the Friends of the Angeles Forest group, they need and appreciate volunteer help and much has been offered, but they lack the staff resources to properly manage it.  SCE will be funding an additional Volunteer Coordinator which should help.

From a mountain biking perspective, one of the important points is to stay on top of any efforts with the word “wilderness” attached to it.  We particularly need to attend their May 30th workshop at the ANF Headquarters in Arcadia and provide input to protect mountain bike access in roadless areas.  This is an open forum, drop in any time between 4 and 7 pm.  You can combine with a trip to REI and In n Out.