Original Article From Daily News LA, By C.J. Lin, Staff Writer
When a group of young conservationists set foot in the blackened landscape of the Angeles National Forest more than a year ago, many were daunted by the sheer scope of their task.
The 2009 Station Fire — which started two years ago Friday — had ravaged nearly 161,000 acres, leaving blackened trees, burned buildings, shells of incinerated cars and in some places, more than two feet of ash and mud that had sloughed off the mountainsides.
Some of the group — made up of about 90 high school and college-age students from all over the U.S. with the Student Conservation Association — doubted they could help restore the damage over the 2 -month program.
“A lot of the kids thought, `How are we going to make an impact on this when everything around is dead, everything around us is a disaster?”’ said Melissa Madrid, a 31-year-old crew leader from Rancho Cucamonga who had often hiked and fished in the forest with her family.
But after two summers of building trails and removing invasive species, the group has already been rewarded with some signs of success.
“Now, it’s green. It looks more lively,” Madrid said. “It doesn’t look like we’re walking into something dead anymore. It’s starting to look more like a forest.” ... continue