$700,000 sought for improving roads destroyed by Station fire

Officials are seeking roughly $700,000 from the federal government for improving the forest roads and trails that were destroyed last year during the Station fire.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D- Burbank) secured the earmark in the Interior Department appropriations bill for restoring 160,577 acres of scorched landscape. The bill must still pass the full House and Senate before reaching President Obama’s desk, said Schiff’s spokeswoman, Maureen Shanahan.

“The roads and trails have been eroded and degraded,” said Richard Toyon, a former forest ranger and president of the local nonprofit Volunteers Organizing in Conserving the Environment.

Trekking on some trails in the forest is challenging because they eventually disappear, he said, and some roads and trails are no longer recognizable.

If the bill is approved, the funding would be allocated to the U.S. Forest Service to handle the restoration work.

“This funding will help repair the roads and trails that were damaged in the fire to restore safety and access for families to enjoy one of California’s greatest natural resources,” Schiff said in a statement.

Engineers for the Angeles National Forest have estimated that about 300 miles of roads and 225 miles of trails were damaged during the Station fire, according to Schiff’s office.

Erosion and landslides during the winter further damaged roads and trails.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the footprint of the fire a disaster area Feb. 11.

Some of the roads have been closed because of the extensive damage, and trails that have been deemed unsafe for hiking have been off limits.

Officials are planning to focus the funding on the most critically damaged roads with the largest access points.

Some road improvements will include installing retaining walls, reconstructing low water crossings, grading surfaces, repairing drainage, repaving and restoring signage, Schiff’s office said.

Trail improvements will include drainage repairs, re-stabilizing slopes and restoring walking surfaces.