In 2009, the Station Fire blazed through 160,000 acres of Southern California’s Angeles National Forest. It was the largest and deadliest fire of the year, killing two firefighters and destroying 209 structures, including 89 homes.
Six years later, the forest is beginning to make a comeback. Hiking trails are becoming overgrown with brush, including poodle-dog brush, which grows quickly after fires. Although it helps prevent erosion, it causes severe skin irritation when touched, making trails unsafe for hiking.
To celebrate National Get Outdoors Day, 35 Edison International volunteers partnered with the National Forest Foundation to help restore a portion of the Charlton Flats Trail and get it ready for hiking once again – removing much of the brush.
“It’s hard and a hot day, but I like to hike and I wanted to help with the trails,” said Irma Saenz, Southern California Edison (SCE) accountant. “We want to show the communities we care about the environment — that we aren’t just about rates and money — but we care about everything out there.”
SCE’s EcoIQ employee resource group, which consists of a group dedicated to developing and maintaining a culture of environmental responsibility, organized the volunteer event for employees.
“It’s critical for the National Forest Foundation that we have support from corporations and their employees,” said Edward Beldin, Southern California program associate for the National Forest Foundation. “The Angeles National Forest provides one-third of water back to Los Angeles County and this is a great opportunity to re-establish the area.”
The Charlton Flats Trail is located in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which was created in 2010 by President Obama to protect more than 346,000 acres of public lands. More than 15 million people live within 90 minutes of the San Gabriel Mountains and the range provides 70 percent of open space for Angeleños.
“I never even knew this trail was here,” said Irene, a volunteer who joined her sister, an SCE employee, at the event. “When you volunteer, you recognize everything that’s out here and it’s good for the soul. The sounds you hear — you could sit here and let your mind go.”