Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Court orders reevaluation of Southland forest areas

Angeles National Forest.
Angeles National Forest.
tsoleau/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Approximately one million acres across four Southern California forests are to be reexamined by the U.S. Forest Service, with the potential of hundreds of thousands of those acres being rezoned into “recommended wilderness” and “back country non-motorized” areas.

As reported by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the updated evaluations could restrict some off-road recreation, decommission unused roads and help revitalize the natural habitat of endangered species like steelhead trout and the California condor.

"These are also some of the best places for hiking and camping,” said Paul Spitler, director of wilderness policy for The Wilderness Society. “Some outstanding beautiful spots in the forests, with waterfalls and streams ... great places for Southern Californians to get away from it all."

In the Angeles National Forest, for example, there is consideration to create a new 40,000-acre wilderness area at the sprawling Fish Canyon and Salt Creek near Santa Clarita. Other forest areas being reevaluated include Los Padres, Cleveland and San Bernardino.

The reevaluations come as a result of two cases in 2008 being adjudicated together in 2009 in U.S. Central Court. Among the groups victorious in the ruling include the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Part of the settlement includes public input on the reexaminations. As such, the Forest Service is holding nine public workshops, with the next one scheduled for May 30, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Angeles National Forest Headquarters, 710 N. Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia. Comments can also be made online on the very informative project website.