San Gabriel Valley Tribune

San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Article Published: Sunday, June 4, 2006

Volunteers work together to clean up forest trails
By Jana Rae Corpuz, Staff Writer

Aaron Finch
Venture Crew 895 Aaron Finch, 16, above, of Brea Boy Scouts Venture Crew 895 helps clear the Lost Ridge Trail near Crystal Lake in the Angeles National Forest. About 250 children and adults participated Saturday in the National Trails Day Experience Your Outdoors event. Left, volunteers select their tools. (Photos by Raul Roa / Staff)
NTD View National Days Trail 06
Slide Show - 6-3-06
Giving back to Mother Nature is no easy task.

About 120 volunteers braved the sweltering sun Saturday to clear debris, haul rocks and trim overgrowth in the hopes the fire-damaged trails of the Crystal Lake Recreational Area will be available to the public once again.

"It makes a big difference," said Rancho Cucamonga resident Maria Shaw, who was with her 11-year-old son, Jon. "It's amazing seeing all the trash you pick up, and beauty of it after."

A popular attraction that draws crowds in the summer, the Crystal Lake area in the Angeles National Forest was forced to close because of a fire on September 2002. However, the area opened Saturday to limited visitors in celebration of National Trails Day, which was started by the American Hiking Society.

"The day is all about promoting stewardship for our national resources," said Brian Edwards, outreach specialist for outdoor retailer REI.

According to United States Forest Service Wilderness/Trails Manager John Seales, the event was "a chance to give back to the trails which provide us with exercise, a venue to enjoy the outdoors, and challenges, both physical and mental."

Besides trail restoration, which was led by the San Gabriel Mountain Trail Builders, guided hikes and demonstrations in outdoor ethics, mule packing and camping basics were led by High Country Riders, Back Country Horsemen and REI.

"We want to make the public aware that hiking is available to everyone who wants to learn how to respect the land and keep it in pristine condition," said Lois Pickens, Forest Service volunteer coordinator.

Progress at Crystal Lake is well under way and the Forest Service plans to reopen the trail to the public in the spring of 2007.

Reasons for the delay are unknown, but Pickens speculates that budget cutbacks have been so severe that adequate funding just isn't there.

"We've come a long way since then," Pickens said. "But a lot more needs to be done."

To make campgrounds look brand new, Boy Scouts will refurbish sites by sanding tables and grills, as well as raking up debris. Yet for the grounds to be completely safe, roads still must be repaired.

Having participated in environmental cleanup for a second time, Shaw says there's nothing better than events like this for her son to learn from.

"It's important to educate the youngsters about [nature], so it will be there for them to enjoy later," she said.

Jana Rae Corpuz can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2471, or by e-mail at .

Copyright 2006 San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Los Angeles Newspaper Group