Angeles National Forest Update

Angeles National Forest Closed to Public Through Winter

Angeles National Forest Winter of '08 | Photo by Ilana Gustafson Turner

One of my favorite locations in all of Los Angeles, the Angeles National Forest, as you know has been through one of the worst fires in recent history. There have been a lot of questions sent my way regarding the status of the trails and roads. According to their report, access to the Angeles Forest will be limited to residents and forest workers through winter. I will be sure to keep you posted as to any changes to this plan. Below you will find answers to some other Frequently Asked Questions posted by the National Forest. For now, please see our list of parks on the right column as many of these parks offer incredibly beautiful hiking opportunities as well.

For the full report visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/station/BAER/ANF%20Station%20Fire%20FAQs%2011%2004%2009%20Final.pdf

STATION FIRE INFORMATION – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q:How and when did the Station Fire start? On Thursday afternoon, August 26, 2009, the Station Fire started on the Angeles National Forest, approximately 4 miles north of the town of La Cañada Flintridge, along the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2) in Southern California. The wildfire was determined to be human caused – to be the act of arson, and has the distinction of being the largest fire in Los Angeles County to-date.
Q:How many wildfires occur on each year on the Angeles National Forest?
This year there have been 162 wildfires on the Angeles National Forest, only 2 of which escaped initial attack (the Morris and Station fires). While these two fires were burning, the Forest had 21 new fire starts — all of which were caught (fully contained) at initial attack. As with all fires on the Angeles National Forest, the objective for firefighters was to put the fire out as safely and as quickly as possible.
Q:What is the size of the burned acres for the Station Fire?
The fire burned approximately 161,000 acres. Approximately 154,000 acres of Forest Service System and 6,700 acres of private lands were burned by the fire.
Q:What was the total cost of the Station Fire?
As of October 17, 2009, the cost to fully contain the fire is approximately $95,300,000.

FIRE DAMAGE

Q:How many Forest Service structures were destroyed or damaged by the Station Fire? Forest Service property that were entirely destroyed or damaged by the Station Fire are: 11 garages; 13 restroom facilities; 5 waste facilities; 1 lookout; 7 barracks; 2 communication sites; 2 pump houses; 10 water tanks; 6 bridges; 7 residences; 2 retaining walls; and 12 misc. buildings.
Q:Where is the destroyed and damaged Forest Service property located within the
burned area of the Station Fire?

All of the Forest Service structures in the Mill Creek area were entirely destroyed. Partially destroyed Forest Service structures were the Big Tujunga Fire Station and structures located in the Clear Creek, Red Box, Shortcut, Monte Cristo, North Fork, Chilao areas.
Q:How many (non-forest service) structures were destroyed or damaged by the Station
Fire?

The Station Fire destroyed approximately 89 residences and damaged 13 residences. Approximately 26 commercial buildings were destroyed and 22 commercial buildings were damaged by the fire. Outbuildings that were destroyed by the Station Fire total 94 structures and 22 structures were damaged by the fire.
Q:Were Forest Service campgrounds damaged by the Station Fire?
The Station Fire did damage many Forest Service campgrounds within the burned area of the fire.
Q:Which Forest Service campgrounds were damaged by the Station Fire?
Forest Service campgrounds damaged by the Station Fire are: Monte Cristo, Mt. Pacifico, Messenger Flats, Chilao, Valley Forge, West Fork, Devore, Millard and Gould Mesa. Forest Service picnic areas damaged by the fire are: Wildwood, Vogel Flat, Stoneyvale, Pines and Switzer.

FIRE IMPACTS

Q:How did the Station Fire impact the road system within the burned area? After the wildfire swept through the burned area, roads were left without guard rails, and regulatory and safety road signage making them unsafe for regular traffic. The damage to the surrounding land and hillsides also made the roads vulnerable to debris flow hazards during rain storm conditions. Because of this public safety danger, roads within the burned area are only open to residents, agency personnel, and construction crews. When storm forecasts for the burned area are issued, access to the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2), Big Tujunga Canyon Road, and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road may be closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles and Los Angeles County personnel.
Q:How did the Station Fire impact public recreation opportunities?
The fire burned acres within both the San Gabriel and Pleasant View Ridge Wildernesses.
Q:What are the effects on wildlife from the Station Fire? How do wildfires affect wildlife? Some animals on the edge of wildfires escape the flames by fleeing into unburned areas. Those farther from the fire perimeter probably did not have time to get out of the area successfully. When an intense fire is burning, it is a very confusing and scary place, resulting in panic-stricken animals. If you imagine yourself in a thick fog trying to find your way out, you can see how confusing it would be for animals trying to escape flames and dense smoke. After the Station Fire, Forest Service personnel have found many animals that perished or were severely injured, including bear, deer, bobcats, woodrats, coyotes, and birds. Some were not touched by flames but died from super-heated gases and lack of oxygen. Others lost their lives due to flames themselves.
Q:When will the fire damaged campgrounds be open to the public? Most campgrounds can be opened to the public when the Forest Closure is ended, even though some features are fire-damaged. Damaged tables, restrooms, etc. will be repaired or replaced within approximately six to nine months following availability of funds.
Q:How severe did the fire burn the soils and watershed?
Of the approximately 161,000 acres that were burned by the Station Fire, 18,100 acres were unburned/very low severity; 25,400 acres were low severity; 100,600 acres were moderate severity; and 16,900 acres were high severity burned.

FOREST CLOSURE WITHIN BURNED AREA

Q:Is the public allowed in the burned area of the Station Fire?
The burned area of the Angeles National Forest is closed to through traffic and the general public, except for residents that live within the burned area, utility companies, and state and local agencies.
Q:How long will the Angeles National Forest be closed to the public?
The burned area will remain closed through the winter storm season to keep the public out of harm’s way from flood/mud/debris flows, falling rocks and raveling hillslopes. We need the public’s support to keep out of the burned area for safety, and for watershed protection and recovery.
Last Updated: 11.04.2009

LONG-TERM RECOVERY EFFORTS

Q: What does the Forest Service plan to do for the recovery of the burned area of the Station Fire? The Forest Service utilizes non-emergency actions that are done within 3-years or more after fire containment to improve fire-damaged lands that are unlikely to recover naturally and to repair federal structures damaged by the fire that are not critical to life and safety. These actions may include restoring burned wildlife habitat, replacing burned fences, interpreting cultural sites, treating pre-existing noxious weed infestations, and installing interpretive signs.

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2 responses to “Angeles National Forest Update

  1. How many days did the fire last??

  2. I have just returned today from a ride up Tujunga Canyon Rd. to the Colby Camp parking lot and it seems to me that it could take a century or more for the forest to return to the state that it was when I was last at Chilao, three days before the fire. Chilao was one of my cherished weekday getaways. After setting up camp in Manzanita Campground I would sit on a west facing rock outcropping overlooking the valley below (you know the one if you’ve ever spent time up there) gazing over the mountains from for those couple of hours as day turned to night, listening to the wildlife rustling through the brush, and know a kind of wordless peace that is religion at its most pure. Retiring for the night in my tent or camper I was kept constant company and lulled to sleep by the nocturnal goings on outside or the lullaby that is the distant sound of coyote song riding the cool, still, night air. It all made my time in the flatlands below bearable.

    On the way to Newcomb’s Ranch today I took a detour to Colby Camp and ended up cutting my ride short. I looked around me at the surrounding hillsides, at another of my favorite spots in the forest where a morning walk to the stream would always result in my fascination with the number of animal tracks from the night before. Another spot that was decimated by fire. Without warning I began to weep like a child. I’m a fully grown man not prone to tears but so much that I loved here is gone to me forever. It could have been prevented.

    I will never see the forest as it was again in my lifetime and it seems unlikely that anyone’s children or grandchildren will either. It leads me to question why at around 7pm on the day the fire started did I see an exodus of fire equipment and personnel while video taping events from the entrance of La Canada Country Club on the Crest.

    Why were acre upon acre of forest that will never grow back in our lifetime or our children’s lifetime sacrificed for a few homes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula that could be rebuilt in a matter of months? Why were two lives sacrificed for those living on the Palos Verdes Peninsula? Thousands of wild animals sacrificed for a few homes near the coast? Who does this? What sort of value system predicates such decision making? What sort of state is California that its leaders’ priorities are so bereft of worthwhile values. What kind of citizenry allows such people to lead?

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