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Parts of fire-ravaged LA forest to be restored

April 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two years after the Station Fire tore through the Angeles National Forest, a new plan calls for replanting millions of trees.

The ambitious plan involves planting 3 million trees on 10,000 acres, removing invasive plants and restoring the habitat on another 40,000 acres in the Big Tujunga Canyon area.

The National Forest Foundation said it plans to raise $5 million toward the effort.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture and dignitaries with the Air Quality Management District attended the ceremonial tree planting on Friday.

In 2009, the Station Fire burned about 161,000 acres, destroyed 89 homes and killed two firefighters. An estimated 14,000 acres were burned to deforested conditions, and it is this area that is being targeted for tree planting.

Workers have been collecting seeds from other parts of the forest in elevations that correspond to the destroyed areas. The seeds have been sent to a nursery that has been growing the saplings being planted in the forest. Officials hope to plant a variety of fir and pine trees on an estimated 4,200 acres this year and already have planted 500,000 trees.

The massive tree planting plan aims to beat the weeds at their jobs and continue the healing process, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Critics say the trees, which are not native to the area, interfere with Mother Nature. Officials say the plan helps along the natural process.

"We're doing it over at least a five-year period because the survivability here is not real good. Many times, you have to replant two, three times to make sure it works. And that's where we're going to get the species mix correct also," said Marty Dumpis, deputy supervisor of Angeles National Forest.

The severely charred parts of the Angeles National Forest still remain closed, serving as a reminder of the largest fire in Los Angeles County history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.