Recent Wildfires Stark Reminder of Importance of Restoration Efforts
It was just a few weeks ago that Jaclyn Loomis, 27, was in the San Gabriel Mountains helping to restore trails and doing some light maintenance in an area that had been devastated by the Station Fire in 2009.
Two weeks later, devastating new wildfires in Southern California spread to consume tens of thousands of acres in the Angeles National Forest.
It was a stark reminder for Loomis of the importance of restoration efforts by groups like the National Forest Foundation, one of the environmental nonprofits funded by Edison International.
“I know fires are inevitable and part of our natural landscape, especially in the dry landscape of California, which is why trail restoration and the work that the National Forest Foundation does is so important,” said Loomis, a contract manager at Southern California Edison and external affairs director for EcoIQ, an environmental employee resource group.
“As volunteers, we can help to mitigate the short and long-term risks fires pose to the environment and communities in Southern California.”
Loomis was joined by her fiancé and co-workers as they donned safety hats and gear. In the intense summer heat, they used cutters and shovels to resurface trails, clip brush and cut the dry grass in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
The Station Fire burned more than 160,500 acres of land in the Angeles National Forest in 2009 and the brush has overgrown the hiking trails, making them unsafe for visitors.
In late June, the Erskine Fire in Kern Valley burned more than 48,000 acres while the San Gabriel Complex Fire consumed 5,300 acres.
As an environmental science undergraduate and graduate student, the health of the national forest is important to Loomis. She regularly hikes in the mountains to enjoy the Southern California landscape and hopes future generations can enjoy it too.
“It is very important that volunteers help to clear dry brush from trails, which act as fuel to these fires that devastate large swaths of land and endanger animal and plant species and humans,” she said. “It’s really important to preserve these areas for future generations.”
The National Forest Foundation was chartered by Congress in 1993 and is the nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service. Their mission is to bring people together to help restore and enjoy the 193-million-acre National Forest System.
“Edison International has a strong history of community investment and environmental stewardship,” said Caroline Choi, SCE senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs. “Volunteering along with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, SoCalGas, the National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service to restore a trail in the Angeles National Forest is one example of how we show our commitment to strengthen our community and protect the environment.”