It’s been two years since an arson fire ripped through the Angeles National Forest, destroying an area the size of Chicago at a cost of almost 100 million dollars and claiming the lives of two firefighters. Now the United States Forest Service is undertaking the largest recovery effort the San Gabriel Mountains have ever seen. The forest service says their goal is to plant 300 million trees across the burn area over the next five years. But not everyone is on board with the replanting. Ecologists worry that the trees the forest service are planting aren’t native to the area and could cause problems that scientists don’t yet understand. They also point out that, though it’s not as pretty as a forest, the burn area was chaparral, an ecosystem known for shrubby, drought tolerant plants and frequent forest fires. So should the forest service leave well enough alone? Or are some plants better than none?
Marty Dumpis, Deputy Forest Supervisor for the Angeles National Forest
Rick Halsey, Director of the California Chaparral Institute