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Cleaning Up

On 20/November/2005, about 30 members of a Buddhist Youth Group volunteers joined efforts with the San Gabriel Mountains Trail Builders to clear and rework the nature trail surrounding the San Gabriel Environmental Education Center located along Highway 39 leaving up through the San Gabriel Mountains toward Crystal Lake.

I joined the effort to haul trees that had fallen across the trail after the were cut up with a chain saw.

The Environmental Education Center is a vital and much-used facility that teaches children from the Los Angeles County and surrounding Counties about the plants and animals that make their homes in these mountains -- which are just 20 miles from major cities.

Children who spend most of their early years rarely setting foot outside of the cities are taken for a hike through the nature trail which encompasses a number of micro environments. Poison oak and deer are often encountered in the hillside surrounding the nature trails and it's an excellent opportunity to show city kids that there's wilderness outside of concrete, steel, and automobiles.

The hiking trails through the canyons are subject to mud slides, heavy rains, and trees that fall due to forest fires, disease, and beetle infestations. These clearing efforts consist of using tools to clear overgrown brush, level the trail, cut up fallen trees, and haul the scrub and logs off the tails.

Safety is one reason why such work is done, but the effort allows families with smaller children to have relatively easy access to enjoy the forest. Litter removal is a resulting problem, of course, yet most people don't litter and many collect trash they find along the trails.

Cleaning Up

The group of volunteers took a quick walk around the nature trails to see what the job would take, then were given a safety orientation followed by a quick review of the tools and other equipment that would be used for the effort, then the volunteers were broken up into teams.

Most of the effort uses a "McLeod" tool, a rake on one end and hoe on the other. That's used to level the side of the trail so that the path is mostly flat.

Another effort was the removal of plants that are not native to the area. There were fig trees that are growing along the stream bed which needed to be removed with hand saws and long-handled lopper cutters. The remains then needed to be hauled back to the Education Center and stacked for chipping.

The fallen-tree cutting and hauling team was the one I was on. Mike maintains certification for chain saw use so he handled the sectioning of fallen trees while the rest of us collected the segments and carried them back to the Center. A wheel barrel was used for some of that though most of the logs were carried by hand.

General repair of the rocks lining the trail was performed along with the removal of dry leaves.

The Environmental Education Center maintains a stock of young pine trees resting in pots awaiting eventual planting in the canyons as part of the watershed reclamation projects that take place annually; an effort to rebuild the area's watershed after a series of fires and after disease and parasite infestation has taken its toll.

This is "forest defense" starting at the ground level. Community citizens work with Freddies on projects like this to try to instill a level of respect for the environment and to impart the need to take care of the environment when camping, hiking, or bicycling. Additionally the maintenance of designated hiking paths and fire breaks helps to contain people as they exercise and enjoy the wilderness so that they're not causing erosion problems all over the mountains and canyons.

Poor quality photographs

* A safety run-down is offered before work begins
* Ben offers the safety run-down for the rather large volunteer group
* The old fire station at the Environmental Education Center
* Pine saplings waiting to be planted
* A wider look at the Environmental Education Center
* One of the tree tlimbs that needed to be removed from the trail
* A section of the trail before work begins
* A section of the trail after it has been worked on
* Difficult to see rock-and-wood bridge on the upper stream crossing
* Another simple boulder bridge
* A better look at the rock-and-wood bridge on the upper stream crossing
* Another section of the trail after it has been worked on
* Another section of the trail after it has been worked on
* Another section of the trail after it has been worked on
* Mike and Ben working with the chainsaw
* Mike and Ben working with the chainsaw
* Cleaning up a section of the trail
* General look around the hillside
* Another section of the trail after it has been worked on

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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This web site is not operated or maintained by the US Forest Service, and the USFS does not have any responsibility for the contents of any page provided on the http://CrystalLake.Name/ web site. Also this web site is not connected in any way with any of the volunteer organizations that are mentioned in various web pages, including the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders (SGMTBs) or the Angeles Volunteers Association (AVA.) This web site is privately owned and operated. Please note that information on this web page may be inaccurate.

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