Restoration of Angeles National Forest damaged in Station Fire underway

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Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo

U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service officials remove a non native tobacco tree at the Angeles National Forest on April 15, 2011. Nearly two years after an arsonist ignited what became the largest fire in Los Angeles County history, officials have launched an effort to restore tens of thousands of acres in some of the most severely charred areas of the mountainous Angeles National Forest.

A couple of years after the biggest wildfire in Los Angeles County history, a private foundation is working with local and federal officials to help restore the Angeles National Forest.

Officials held a news conference in the forest on Friday to announce the restoration.

The National Forest Foundation has designated the open hillsides in northern LA County as one of the nation’s treasured landscapes.

“The exciting thing is we are doing work over a 95,000-acre watershed, some of which burned up to 95 percent in the fire,” says Vance Russell, the California director of the National Forest Foundation. “Huge damage to property and habitat.”

Plans include planting 3 million new trees in forest areas, and the less glamorous job of weeding and uprooting invasive species. Critics of the effort say the forest naturally restores itself without human help.

Harris Sherman, under secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, says the Angeles National Forest is vital for the Southland and for the country as whole.

"It is 75 percent of the open space of Los Angeles County," he points out. "And it’s a very important forest in terms of protecting the water shed, water quality of Los Angeles. It is the backdrop for many recreational visits you have in this area.

“We have millions of visitors that come to the Angeles National Forest. It is a forest that provides critically important habitat for a wide variety of species, some of which are on the threatened endangered species list," says Sherman. "So it has many benefits and its really incumbent upon us to work actively to restore this forest."

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