Thinning on the Angeles National Forest

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 20 09:39:23 EST 2004


Wednesday, February 18, 2004  Daily Press

Big Pines, Wrightwood to be thinned
U.S. Forest Service plans to remove dead and dying trees to avert
wildfires
By NIKKI COBB/Staff Writer

WRIGHTWOOD — The U.S. Forest Service wants to thin out nearly
1,000 acres of Angeles National Forest to avoid another devastating
wildfire like last year's blazes in the nearby mountains.

Officials plan to cut down dead and dying trees — killed by
crowding, drought and insects — along Big Pines Highway and the
Mountain High Resort and Ski Sunrise areas.

A much larger area of forest is targeted for thinning around
Wrightwood, but details of that plan will not be released until April.

"We saw what was going on in the San Bernardino forest," Forest
Service Ranger Cid Morgan said. "We could see we were starting to get
a bit of tree mortality in our higher country. We're concerned about
it."

The thinning along Big Pines Highway — west of Wrightwood
— is intended to protect a dozen organizations' camps along the
road and safeguard a critical escape route for campers and Wrightwood
residents.

Forestry experts say the Angeles Forest, where Jeffrey pines
predominate, has not seen the overwhelming bark beetle infestations
that have killed thousands of drought-weakened and overcrowded
ponderosa pines in Lake Arrowhead and elsewhere in the San Bernardino
National Forest.

There are bark beetles in Angeles — a different species than in
San Bernardino — but not enough to alarm officials. Instead,
extreme overgrowth of trees and underbrush is their concern, and they
say the time to act is now.

"In Wrightwood, the fire danger is not as severe due to tree
mortality. However, there is still a high fire danger because of the
drought and the amount of dry brush," said Tracey Martinez,
spokeswoman for San Bernardino County Fire. "The recent snow obviously
has helped, but there's still a fire danger in that area."

The thinning, planned with the help of computer models of fire
behavior, is expected to start in the fall, Morgan said. The Forest
Service is accepting comments from the public on the plan until March
5.

The Big Pines and Wrightwood tree-thinning projects will focus on land
adjacent to communities. The goal is to protect people and property,
including the Big Pines Historic District, and restore the forest to a
lower, healthier density.

John Aziz of the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council said the Forest Service
plan is well thought out and desperately needed.

"It's absolutely amazing on how thorough, how sensitive to wildlife,
to humans, to firefighters this plan is," Aziz said. "They're looking
at this as an overall package to make the forest a safer place to be."

Comment by poster: It seems that reason and science is starting to
take over in our National Forests. Now, all we need is for the courts
to decide (as if they are all-knowing and educated on ecology) that
this is the right thing to do.

Larry,    restoring forests, one tree at a time



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