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Residents welcome burn area replanting

But some experts fear that the region┬┐s ecological balance could be altered.

April 15, 2011|By Joe Piasecki,
  • Marty Dumpis, U.S. Forest Service Acting Forest Supervisor talks about how plants and the river are flourishing again after 2009 fire, at press conference at Wildwood Picnic Area in the Big Tujunga Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest on Friday, April 15, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Marty Dumpis, U.S. Forest Service Acting Forest Supervisor…

Despite concerns from some critics that plans to plant 3 million trees in the fire-scarred Station fire burn area could alter the ecological balance of the region, officials at an unveiling ceremony on Friday said time is of the essence.

The trees will go to an area of roughly 10,000-acres in the Angeles National Forest that was all but denuded by the massive Station fire. Below the burn area, foothill residents have been living in fear of mudflows and rockslides that threaten with every rain storm. With vegetation still on the rebound, there’s little to hold the earth in place on the area’s steep hillsides.

“I am all for whatever the Forest Service can do to help restore the watershed and keep mud and debris from flowing into our residents' homes and yards and on to our city streets,” La Cañada Flintridge City Councilwoman Laura Olhasso said.

Mudflows in 2010 destroyed homes, cars and clogged debris basins.


Officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture and other agencies announced the massive replanting effort in conjunction with the National Forest Foundation during a press conference Friday in the Big Tujunga Canyon area. They said restoring trees in formerly wooded areas will benefit regional air and water quality, reinvigorate natural habitats and restore recreational use of forest land.

“Once these trees are growing, it’s going to restore the natural habitat and prevent the mudflows that have occurred because the trees and brush have been burned,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said. “It helps by protecting homes from mudslides and [reducing the number of] trucks that have to go in and out of neighborhoods removing sediment.”

Antonovich sits on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which funded the purchase of 472,000 trees for 2,800 acres of forest land that over 100 years are expected to offset 280,000 metric tons of global warming carbon dioxide emissions.

Also underway is the planting of 300,000 conifers on 1,000 acres of mostly high-elevation hillsides vulnerable to soil erosion, said Vance Russell, California programs director for the National Forest Foundation.

Over the next several years, coordinated plantings by the Forest Service and nonprofit groups are expected to raise $3 million to cover an additional 7,000 acres and also aid in restoration of brush-dominant landscapes at lower elevations, Russell said.

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