If there is one word that can sum up the month of June it would be versatility. Building picnic tables, restoring campsites, maintaining trails, and removing invasive species are just a few of the projects that our crew got to tackle. We began with National Trails Day, a huge volunteer event; about a hundred volunteers came out to work on trails around Mt. Wilson. Like the project on the PCT in May, we were not yet supervising volunteers; we were simply trying to get more comfortable working with volunteers.
After National Trails Day, we attended and represented SCA at National Get Outdoors Day at Chantry Flats. There, we got to meet several representatives from the Fire Safe Council, REI, The Tree People, and the LA Conservation Corps. While the weather wasn’t the best, we were able to talk with several people about what we are doing on the forest and introduce people to SCA. We even made a pitch to Smokey Bear, let me know if his application arrives and I’d be glad to give him a good reference.
When we weren’t with volunteers, we set to work on new orders from the District Ranger. The Ranger wanted to try an open up some additional recreational sites on the forest before the July 4th weekend. The Monte Cristo Campground, Hidden Springs Picnic Area, and the front country picnic areas at Wildwood, Stonyvale, and Vogel Flats were listed as the priority sites. Our crew helped out an Eagle Scout project at Stonyvale. We uncovered two concrete pads that were washed out, while the Boy Scout volunteers painted and sanded picnic tables and installed new BBQ grills. At Monte Cristo, we repaired and repainted picnic tables at the 21 site campground. We also removed debris and broken picnic tables from the campground and performed Hazard Reduction at all of the campsites. At Hidden Springs, we repaired three picnic tables and replaced a sign at the parking lot. We didn’t get to work on Wildwood because we decided to save it for a large volunteer service day with Home Depot. And we didn’t work on Vogel Flats because we physically could not get to the site. The picnic area had be heavily flooded in the rains after the Station Fire and road into Vogel Flats was blocked by five feet of sand. Still, the work that our crew did allowed the Ranger to recommend opening Monte Cristo and Hidden Springs in time for the 4th of July.
The month of June also brought about the start of our Sunday invasive species removal project. We worked with the Forest Botanist and several volunteers to remove Spanish Broom from the Forest. Spanish Broom is not your typical invasive plant; it has thick, deep roots that can be as long as nine feet deep. In order to manually remove Spanish Broom, you have to dig two to three feet in to the ground around the plant, and then use a weed wrench to pull out the roots. If you don’t know what a weed wrench is, imagine a large vice-grip attached to a lever that is about three to four feet tall. This is what you have to use to try (emphasis on try) to remove this tough plant.
We finished up the month of June with a couple of projects at the Chilao Visitor Center. There we fixed a couple of holes in the wall, performed some trail maintenance, and began work on rebuilding a 3-panel display. While we didn’t complete everything that we wanted to at the Visitor Center, we would return to this site to continue to improve on the Center.