Big Tujunga Canyon area of Angeles National Forest reopens in time for holiday weekend


Hiking trails, picnic areas and campgrounds have reopened after Los Angeles County's most destructive wildfire.

It devoured more than 160,000 acres and destroyed 89 homes. The Station Fire swept through the Angeles National Forest in August 2009, leaving devastation in its wake. But Friday saw another step toward recovery.

"Starting today we are going to be opening nearly 41,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest that was closed due to the Station Fire," said Nathan Judy, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Judy says as of Friday, most of Big Tujunga Canyon is back in business almost three years after the fire.

"We want to let folks know that hey, we've reopened these areas for you to come out and enjoy," said Judy. "They've been closed for almost three years now, and folks just aren't used to coming back up to these areas, so we want to invite them back out here to enjoy.

The newly reopened areas include Stone Canyon Trail, Trail Canyon Trail and Wildwood. Judy says a big concern was soil stability.

"After the rainstorms after the fire, debris came down off the hillsides, covered the roads, covered the trails, trees had fallen on the trails, so we wanted to come back through here and clean that stuff up before we allowed the public to come back in here, as well as let the plants and the vegetation grow to stabilize the hillsides," said Judy.

Chelsea Griffie is the executive director of Los Angeles Wilderness Training, a group that teaches youngsters how to backpack.

"It belongs to all of us, and we should take advantage of it," said Griffie.

Many of the newly reopened areas still bear the scars of the Station Fire. But thanks to ongoing restoration efforts, Judy says the forest has made a big comeback. That's welcome news to avid hikers who were back in the reopened areas Friday.

There are still 46,000 acres that remain off-limits to the public in the Angeles National Forest because of the Station Fire. Rehabilitation efforts continue.

The Big Tujunga Canyon area should be pretty busy over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

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