Sunday, September 6, 2009

Angeles National Forest - My View of the Current Situation

Ruth Sandra Sperling
RSS Designs In Fiber - Internet Shop of Handmade Items In Fibers

I took the above photo in April 2005 from a field just east of where I live in the east Antelope Valley. It is looking south from the Antelope Valley to the San Gabriel Mountains - which are now, in September 2009, hot and dry -- and burning.

Various sections of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest were my stomping/hiking grounds for years and years. When I had time off -- and even sometimes when I had independent work and I took my work up there with me -- I spent hours of my life driving, picnicing and hiking through various forested areas: Big Tujunga, Switzer, Charlton Flat, Chilao, West Fork of the San Gabriel River, Mount Gleason up through Littlerock Dam area were some of my favorite places to go.

Unfortuantely, I am now sorrowing that so many of these places are in the Station Fire area.

I am really worried that Old Growth areas and Wilderness Areas are burning -- and not always at the low to moderate intensities.

I can only frevently hope that the canopies of the larger Old Growth is not burning.

For up-to-date information on what has been named the Station Fire (the fire burning across the Angeles National Forest), see the Incident Site Website by InciWeb.

Knowledge gives one a better ability to deal with something analytically, even if emotionally affected.

I've been going to US Forest Service meetings in California for 10-15 years now - for the Angeles National Forest and the Sierra Nevada National Forests. As part of studying papers and documents, I have learned about the climate of the California forests. They are different from most of the rest of the country -- they are classified as a Mediterranean Climate, which is discussed in fairly plain English here on Wikipedia. Mediterranean Climates developed ecologically and geologically in certain ways and their characteristics are discussed in a rather understandable language for the average person on Wikipedia.

Also, it was through the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign - and their Conservation Strategy, which I have a copy of, that I found out about the Globally Significant Biodiversity Hotspots that are identified by the International Conservation Scientists of Conservation International -- including the California Floristic Province, which the Angeles National Forest (where the Station Fire is burning) is part of.

The following quote off of the Wikipedia article on the Mediterranean Climate discusses that "....these communities are well suited to recover from droughts, floods, and fires....":

"The Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome is closely associated with Mediterranean climate zones. Particularly distinctive of the climate are sclerophyll shrublands, called maquis in the Mediterranean Basin, chaparral in California, matorral in Chile, fynbos in South Africa, and mallee and kwongan shrublands in Australia. Aquatic communities in Mediterranean climate regions are adapted to a yearly cycle in which abiotic (environmental) controls of stream populations and community structure dominate during floods, biotic (e.g. competition and predation) controls become increasingly important as the discharge declines, and environmental controls regain dominance as environmental conditions become very harsh (i.e. hot and dry); as a result, these communities are well suited to recover from droughts, floods, and fires.[3]"

But I can't help but wonder - recover to what?

I can only fervently hope that the larger Old Growth is only getting fire scars on their trunks and that the fire is burning at a low enough intensity over most of the area so that natural recovery through heating of the seeds buried in the soil will bring a vibrant new growth to the area come next Spring!

Looking ahead is what we must do.

As an average citizen, I can't do too much about the fires actually burning, as I write this, in the Angeles National Forest. But I can look ahead and see what I can contribute to -- and I will be contributing to the TreePeople Mountain Forestry program for replanting areas that do not naturally heal.

Please take a look at the website of TreePeople and their Mountain Forestry programs - specifically their California Wildfire Restoration Initiative, where they have already posted about replanting the Angeles National Forest after the 2009 fires!!

From the California Wildfire Restoration Initiative of TreePeople:

"We advocate planting the most appropriate species prescribed by the Forest Service. Our aim is to plant the right tree in the right place with the right spacing apart. However, sometimes the best approach to restore burned areas is to stay out of the area and let it heal naturally."

I keep fervently hoping that the majestic, cathedral-like trees of Charlton Flat are still standing when it is all over.

A Huge Heartfelt Thanks to all the Firemen, US Forest Service staff and scientists -- and all the volunteers who are working so very hard to contain the Station Fire and save as much as we can of the Angeles National Forest and the communities around it!!!!!

--- And keep in mind, not all of the Station Fire area is actually burning -- and low intensity fire may be beneficial to the ecosystem -- and in some areas the fire has been low intensity.

We will still have a forest when it is all over, even if some of it needs restoration!!!

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