U.S. Forest Service

U.S. FOREST SERVICE AGREES TO LAND FIREFIGHTING TANKER PLANE AT BROWN FIELD IN OTAY, BUT NOT RAMONA

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 9, 2016 (Otay)—Effective immediately, the U.S. Forest Service has authorized its Next Generation firefighting air tankers to operate at Brown Field in Otay Mesa near the border during times of elevated wildfire risk.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob  called the announcement “a step forward” but added, “They don't go far enough. Ramona Air Attack Base, in the heart of wildfire country, still makes the most sense.”  She noted the high risk of wildfire in Ramona, site of the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire and the2007 firestorms.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

September 23, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:

LOCAL/REGIONAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

PRESCRIBED BURNING BEGINS IN CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

 

 

 

East County News Service

December 6, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—If you see smoke over the backcountry, be aware that the Cleveland National Forest will conduct prescribed burning from December 2014 through June of 2015 as weather and fuel conditions permit on the Trabuco, Palomar and Descanso Ranger Districts. The goal of the burning is to reduce hazardous fuels that have accumulated in the Forest and around local communities.

WILDERNESS PROTECTION GRANTED TO 43,000 ACRES IN CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

 

November 4, 2014 (Cleveland National Forest)—U.S. Forest Service officials have signed a Record of Decision for the Cleveland National Forest Land Management Plan Amendment  that gives wilderness protection to an additional 43,000 acres in the forest, at least temporarily.

ROAD CLOSURES ON PUBLIC LAND IRK RURAL RESIDENTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Kitchen Creek, where access in the vicinity has been limited by frequent road closures

September 7, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – In recent months, several readers have written to ask us why they are encountering “road closed” signs on roads in Cleveland National Forest that were formerly accessible to the public.

EVACUATIONS IN YOSEMITE DUE TO WILDFIRE

 

Photo courtesy National Park Service: Merced River with Half Dome in background

EVACUATIONS IN YOSEMITE DUE TO WILDFIRE

By Miriam Raftery

September 8, 2014 (Yosemite)--A wildfire burning in Yosemite National Park has forced closure of some of the Park’s most popular trails. Strong winds have whipped the fire into a 700 acre conflagration that on Sunday forced evacuation of over 100 hikers and climbers, including 40 on the trail to Half Dome, some airlifted out by helicopter.

CHAPARRAL INSTITUTE: NEWS STORY FALSELY CLAIMS "EVERYTHING IS DEAD" ONE YEAR AFTER YOSEMITE FIRE

 

August 5, 2014 (San Diego)—The Chaparral Institute, a San Diego-based environmental organization, has issued a press release revealing that a CBS affiliate in Sacramento recycled a sensationalized 2013 Associated Press news article this week with a new headline that reads,  “1 Year Later, Scientists Find Yosemite Rim Fire Left Behind a Sierra Moonscape.” The story suggested that “everything is dead” – a point disputed by the Chaparral institute.

FUTURE OF FOREST LANDS , ALPINE GROWTH AT STAKE

 

By Nadin Abbott and Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Supervisors heard heated testimony on Wednesday regarding plans to change densities for lands on private property within the Cleveland National Forest boundaries. The Forest Conservation Initiative (FCI) passed by voters in 1993, which limited development on these lands to one home for each 40 acres, expired in 2010.  The County has rejected calls to enact the FCI protections into law. Instead, Supervisors directed staff to create an Environmental Impact Report based on staff recommendations that would increase densities in some areas and reduce them in others.

The hot potato is Alpine, where the Alpine Planning Group’s majority called on Supervisors to allow increased densities and development that could double the size of their rural town.  That has drawn opposition from environmentalists, board member Lou Russo, the Cleveland National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service itself, which raised concerns over fire dangers and preservation of federally protected wild lands adjacent to proposed development.

BILL IN CONGRESS WOULD LET FEDERAL DISASTER FUNDS BE USED TO FIGHT CATASTROPHIC WILDFIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 21, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Forest Service warns that this year could bring a catastrophic fire season in the Southwest with estimated that firefighting costs of $1.8 billion this year for the Interior Department overall – that’s nearly triple the amount of money available to fight fires.

HIKERS WIN CASE OVER FEES CHARGED IN NATIONAL FORESTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The U.S. Forest Service cannot charge day use fees to hikers who don’t use facilities, a federal judge ruled on  April 30th.

READERS VOICE RAGE OVER CONTROLLED BURN IN CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 26, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Readers across East County have sent photos and video of a large controlled burn yesterday in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, voicing outrage over the burning of habitat including mature trees, given than 99% of the pine trees in the park burned during the 2003 Cedar Fire.

Questions have also been raised over why the burn was allowed in windy conditions, why a helicopters was dispatched to use water from Lake Cuyamaca on a controlled burn, and why more notice was not provided to the public and the press that a major controlled burn was underway by State Parks in conjunction with Cal Fire.

FEDS FURLOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TECHNICIANS WHO MAINTAIN FIREFIGHTING AIRCRAFT

Supervisors to hear proposal Tuesday urging fast transfer of planes for firefighting from Department of Defense to U.S. Forest Service

By Miriam Raftery

October 5, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Shut-down of the federal government over the spending bill impasse has caused furlough of 2,000 California National Guard technicians who maintain helicopters and cargo planes that respond to major wildfires statewide. Major General David Baldwin has said that “lives are at stake” because of these “inane cuts and work stoppages,” the SF Gate reported

“The federal government needs to grow up, settle its budget mess and remember one of its primary obligations – public safety,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob  told East County Magazine.  “Any furloughs or other cutbacks that undermine aerial firefighting would be a major concern, especially as our region approaches the most dangerous stretch of the wildfire season.”

On Tuesday, Supervisors will hear a proposal by Supervisors Jacob and Greg Cox asking the U.S. Department of Defense to transfer seven surplus C-27 aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service to bolster firefighting resources in San Diego County and other areas.

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST ANNOUNCES CLOSURES DUE TO GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN

 

October 1, 2013  (San Diego’s East County)Due to the lapse in federal government funding, the U.S. Forest Service, as with other federal agencies, is closed with the exception of certain essential services.  The Cleveland National Forest offices as well as some recreational areas will be closed until further notice.  The entire U.S. Forest Service website and other federal websites are offline due to the spending bill impasse in Congress.  Shutdown of U.S. Forest Service activities does not impact firefighting on forest lands, however.

The following will be closed, including popular sites in East County:

IS THE PARTY OVER? COUNTY SUES FOREST SERVICE TO BLOCK REOPENING OF CEDAR CREEK FALLS TRAIL

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 29, 2013 (Ramona) – Today, San Diego County has filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief and an injunction to halt the U.S. Forest Service from reopening the trail to Cedar Creek Falls from Ramona’s San Diego Country Estates. The suit follows the USFS announcement that it plans to reopen the trailhead April 5th and implement a permit system for visitors. The falls and a natural swimming pool below are considered by some to be the most spectacular natural attractions in East County.

“The lawsuit is in response to the Forest Service’s decision to ignore both the public safety and fiscal concerns raised by the County during the appeal of the permit system plan,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said in a press statement issued today. “Adequate law enforcement staffing must be in place before the trail is opened back up.  Either the Forest Service needs to be able to enforce its own rules, or pay the Sheriff’s Department to do it.”

SDG&E DONATES SCENIC RIDGE AND NATURAL HABITATS TO THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE

 

March 14, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – East El Capitan ridge, a habitat of the threatened California coastal gnatcatcher and home to a golden eagle nesting site, has been preserved and protected thanks to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and the United States Forest Service

FOREST SERVICE SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENTS ON CHANGES PROPOSED TO CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST AND OTHER SOUTHERN CA FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANS

Public meetings set, including March 26 in Alpine and March 27 in Ramona

March 8, 2013 (San Diego) – Forest Service officials are seeking public comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for a Proposed Amendment to the Land Management Plans for the four Southern California national forests (the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino).

The environmental impact statement analyzes the proposal to modify the existing land use zones allocations in selected inventoried roadless areas to include more back country non-motorized and recommended wilderness areas.  It also analyzes the proposal to modify the land management plan monitoring framework.  The statement evaluates alternatives for both topics, including an alternative that would recommend most of the study area as wilderness.  The environmental impact statement can be found on the project webpage at:  http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=35130

42,000 ACRES OF CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST PROPOSED FOR ROADLESS WILDERNESS DESIGNATION

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—“Scenic resources are among the biggest values we can offer to the American people,” Will Metz, Cleveland National Forest Supervisor, told ECM. 

The U.S. Forest Service is now weighing a proposal to protect vast tracts of federal forests as roadless wilderness—including 42,000 of Cleveland National Forest.  That includes the lands around Cedar Creek and above Cedar Creek Falls, Eagle Peak, the upper San Diego River Gorge, and the Caliente area.

The proposal  will likely be open for public comment in January and could be finalized by mid-2013. While the USFS would then manage the lands as wilderness, it would take an act of Congress to formalize the designation.

FOREST SERVICE WILL BEGIN NIGHT TIME AERIAL FIREFIGHTING

“Long overdue”l tactic to contain California’s dangerous wildfires, Senator Feinstein says

August 19, 2012 (Washington D.C.)— The U.S. Forest Service will update its nighttime firefighting program to battle out-of-control wildfires in Southern California.

SDG&E AND FOREST SERVICE PRESERVE SENSITIVE WATERSHED HABITAT

 
July 18, 2012 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and the U.S. Forest Service have collaborated to preserve and protect 266 acres of sensitive habitat immediately adjacent to Cedar Creek Falls in the San Diego River watershed.  The land is now National Forest System land donated by SDG&E.
 
This critical watershed habitat is home to 26 sensitive or endangered wildlife species and twice as many sensitive to endangered plant species. Species include the endangered arroyo toad which relies on sandy streambeds and chaparral as well as the Least Bell’s vireo, a migratory songbird that nests in the poison oak and other brush that grows in the San Diego River watershed.

HIKER INJURY ON THREE SISTERS FALLS TRAIL


By Miriam Raftery

May 9, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –  A 49-year-old man suffered a head injury in a tumble down a trail leading to Three Sisters Falls on April 29.   The injury occurred at a steep section of trail where hikers must descend by rope, ECM has learned.

“The Forest Service considers this area unimproved wilderness,” said Lt. Todd Richardson with the Sheriff’s  office, which performed a hoist rescue via helicopter. 

Unlike nearby Cedar Creek Falls, where trails are maintained, the U.S. Forest Service declines to maintain trails in unimproved wilderness  areas such as Three Sisters Trails that are not officially designated as hiking trails.

HIKER INJURED AT THREE SISTERS FALLS TELLS HER STORY

Wants falls to stay accessible to public; offers safety suggestions for hikers--and for the U.S. Forest Service
 

By Miriam Raftery
 

February 13, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – “Someone was watching out for me,” says Ofelia Gutierrez , 56, who is home from the hospital after two surgeries for serious injuries sustained when she tumbled head-over-heels at Three Sisters Falls in East County on February 6th. In an exclusive interview with East County Magazine, the seasoned hiker shares her dramatic story.
 

U.S. FOREST SERVICE CONDUCTING CONTROLLED BURNS ON PALOMAR MOUNTAIN

 

January 18, 2011 (Palomar) --If you see smoke, don't panic.  The United States Forest service will be conducting a controlled burn today and tomorrow near the intersections of Palomar Divide Truck Trail and Halfway Road placing it on a North East / East aspect of Palomar Mountain.

FOREST SERVICE DENIES APPEAL OVER POWERLINK, CLEARS WAY FOR LITIGATION

 

By Miriam Raftery
 

October 24, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – The U.S. Forest Service’s Regional Forester Randy Moore has upheld the Record of Decision (ROD) approving construction of Sunrise Powerlink, SDG&E's high-voltage transmission line slated to cross 19 miles of National Forest land in Cleveland National Forest as well as 49 miles of Bureau of Land Management land.

MAN DIES IN FALL FROM ALPINE VIEWPOINT

September 3, 2009 (Alpine) – A man plunged 200 feet to his death from a viewpoint off Eastbound I-8 east of Willows Road in Alpine this afternoon. U.S. Forest Service and Border Patrol officials responded at 12:30 p.m., when a technical rescue was attempted. However the patient was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.