The event, which took place at Chilao Campground, a half-mile south of Newcomb’s Ranch Restaurant on Angeles Crest (2) Highway, was part of a comprehensive, multiyear reforestation project spearheaded by the Forest Service.
The Station fire, which ignited just north of La Cañada on Aug. 26, burned 253 square miles of forest. In some places the heat was so intense that it seared the soil, hampering natural regeneration. And in the foothills north of the Crescenta-Cañada area, it created conditions ripe for dangerous debris flows.
The Forest Service will finish planting 13,000 saplings in designated areas in the coming months, said Bruce Quinteliers, an assistant resource officer with the U.S. Forest Service Los Angeles River Ranger District. In 2011, the Forest Service will oversee the reforesting of 4,000 acres, he said.
“You can hear one thing in the media — that this fire burned 160,000 acres — and you can see all the footage on television of how horrible it looks,” Quinteliers said. “But until you actually get out here, you can’t get a real scope of the reality of it.”
Reforesting Angeles National Forest is a labor-intensive undertaking that will take years to complete, Quinteliers said. Much of the work will be contracted out to private companies. But the Forest Service is working with organizations like Tree People to engage local communities and solicit volunteers.
“It is definitely beneficial for the community to come out,” said Brian Rekart, a mountain reforestation manager with Tree People. “They come out and plant trees, and it gives them a sense of ownership.”
In December, a group of La Cañada residents created the Foothills Reforestation Committee, which is trying to build grass-roots support for the reforestation effort. Last month, a contingent of committee members traveled to the San Bernardino Mountains to be trained as planting supervisors. On Saturday, they tested their new skills.
“I think the community has an investment in [Angeles National Forest],” La Cañada volunteer Mike Caley said. “I want to see it come back for my children. I don’t think we should rely on the government to do everything for us. It will mean more to me if I participate.”
The next volunteer planting event will take place the last weekend in April. For more information, e-mail Beth Olhasso at replantthe email@example.com.