© a Quinn Martin production
Lots of you have been asking what you can do to help. This year's resolution is to affect change on The Angeles and take back OUR forest. I will have an online petition circulating soon. Thanks everybody.

I originally wanted to blog about my adventures in the San Gabriel Mountains. I have some good stories, like the time I took a donkey to Ralph's Supermarket. But then the Station Fire started. I realized that there is much that needs to be brought to the attention of the mountain going public. Most folks are kept in the dark about how the Angeles National Forest operates. I will raise issues that are important to me, which are hopefully important to all citizens, but if you have any suggestions for discussion here, I am willing.

Here's the big agenda: Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron. I've made a few smart remarks and cryptic comments about her. But now, with the backing of some knowledgeable and trusted friends, it is time for a concerted effort to have her removed from her post. Stay tuned for details. And if you have any information you would like to contribute, anonymously or not, email me at gregsweet4@yahoo.com

I will get to some of the stories, sooner or later. Also, I want to make it clear that I no longer work at Adams' Pack Station, that these words are my own, and that the pack station is not the source of my information - they don't want trouble.

Fireside Chats

Even the Obama® brand presidency did more to stop wildfire than did Jody Noiron...

The Greatest Good - Complete Documentary

This is the centennial documentary on the US Forest Service in its entirety. A couple hours long in 14 segments. It is artfully narrated by Charles Osgood of CBS, who took over for Charles Kuralt. The first video is the trailer - you can advance the videos forward and back by clicking the arrows at left & right.

This production clears up the differences between conservation and preservation, and between the Forest Service and the Park Service respectively. It demonstrates the democratic ideal of the Forest Service, which is why I hold the concept of the National Forest in such high regard, and why I am so frustrated with the current corruption and mismanagement.

The videos are of acceptable quality in full screen mode (that's the button second from the right)...

Direct link to playlist: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=74602DEBB45B13A2

Geology Of The San Gabriel Mountains

In 2007, Adams' Pack Station hosted a Geology Walk conducted by Dave Douglass, Dean of Sciences at Pasadena City College. He spoke in plain English for us newbies and it was very interesting. I put a microphone on him and this was the result...

Smokey The Bear Song

Eddy Arnold sings "Smokey the Bear" for an old public service announcement. This is very quaint, but it is the kind of thing that caused an all out war against forest fires. Much has been learned since about the role of fire in forest ecology, but the attitude persists.

It took me a helluva long time to figure out how to get this from DVD to YouTube, so I hope you all appreciate it...

You Can't Do That On Television!

I am really nervous about posting this. I decided five days ago that I had to tell what I heard, but I have cogitated about how to say it since. It will probably cause grief for at least two honest, hard-working and well-intentioned forest lovers. No matter how I dance around the details, the pieces are easily put together from previous posts. I am not going to delete those otherwise innocent posts, and, besides, Forest Service personnel have already read them.

Forest Service management would tell you that they do not read this blog, but I know that they do. In fact, they have made some sarcastic remarks about it. One of them I found quite funny - it was something to the effect of "If a blog falls in the woods, and no one is there to read it..." - I don't remember the end, but I had to laugh. I have no misconceptions about this blog, but those that need to be aware of it are aware of it.

So, I've decided to tell exactly what happened, and if there are any negative consequences for innocent people, it will only demonstrate the toxicity of Jody's venom; and prove me right in wanting to remove her.

One month ago the Pasadena Weekly published an article entitled 'Smoldering Blame' in which was described the lack of controlled burns on The Angeles as a method to prevent larger fires. Jody used to excuse this by saying that they would have to first get permission from the AQMD, as if to say that it was automatically out of the question. But that is not the case. The AQMD just wants input into when the burns will take place, and they want to be able to warn citizens of possible smoke. In fact, according to the article by Jake Armstrong, the AQMD approved six permits to burn a total of 1,700 acres. Of that the Forest Service only burned 13 acres. THIRTEEN ACRES! Out of 1,700 possible!

Well, they are always full of excuses. They say that the weather was inappropriate at the scheduled times for the burns. I used to think that this was a case of dragging their feet and that it was always too hot by the time they got around to it. But this is calculated procrastination.

The LA Times published an article exposing a memo from the Regional Forester to Forest Supervisors (which includes Jody Noiron) requesting a frugality in the fire suppression arena. This seems to let Jody off the hook - she can't just go starting fires when she is told she can't afford to put them out, right? However, Jody has been notoriously cheap for ten years now, since long before Regional Forester Randy Moore was in office. Anyway, this is not the cause of my angst in writing this...

On Saturday, October 4th, one week ago, I went on a field trip with my Natural History class at Citrus College. I mentioned it in this blog. One of our stops was Rincon Station in the West Fork, specifically Engine 22. We received a demonstration of firefighting equipment by a graduate of the same Citrus forestry program. It was innocently educational, and so far the class and instructor have no idea what I am up to on this blog. I kept my mouth shut the whole time I was there.

Now, this person conducted a very comprehensive discussion of fire, fire suppression, and fire prevention, and it was wholly appropriate for the occasion. One of the students brought up the subject of controlled burns. We were correctly told that the Forest Service has learned a lot about the positive role that fire has on forest ecology. At first we got the canned excuse that blames the AQMD for not conducting necessary burns. But then the truth came out... "We can't do it for publicity reasons."

There you have it. Again, it doesn't look good on TV. Some of you may be thinking that the general public is not as naive as they used to be, and most understand that a certain amount of fire is necessary for many reasons. Others are willing to trust the Forest Service to do what is best. So, what's with the negative publicity angle?

As you are learning here, you cannot trust the Forest Service, not the staff of The Angeles, but most people don't know that. However, The Angeles knows that it can't trust itself. They don't have qualified fire management, thanks to Jody, and they don't have enough firefighters to control the burns. So what they are really afraid of is that a controlled burn will get away from them, starting a much bigger fire, and that they will be blamed for it. Instead they let the growth get thicker and thicker until an arsonist comes along, and hopefully he will get all the blame for a big fire. In the process, the heavy fuel loads are removed, and Jody will be retired by the time the forest needs to burn again.

There Was A Vibration!

Soon, you will know...

Mt. Wilson Backfires Failed

One of the factors in how Jody Noiron and others decide how to approach a fire in The Angeles is how the efforts will look on TV. When the Station Fire got into the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, the canyon behind Mt Wilson, there was, naturally, great media pressure to protect the summit.

But one of the few places on the forest that received fire clearance in recent years was Mt Wilson. And they kept telling us that this was a terrain-driven fire, not a wind-driven fire. Keep in mind that both sides of Wilson Ridge are extremely steep, and that terrain (i.e. steep slopes) can also act as a natural barrier to fire.

The fire never got onto the front (south) face of the ridge that is covered in Chaparral. The north side is a very different community, with Big-Cone Douglas Fir, Pines, Incense Cedar and Oaks, which burn differently and much more slowly without wind. In fact, the fire didn't attempt to burn there on its own.

However, it makes television reporters nervous - especially when they have a personal interest in the matter - to watch firefighters let a fire take its natural course in open space. Now, because the slope was too steep to cut a fire break, somebody decided to drop incendiary potassium permanganate pellets from aircraft to start backfires that would burn away from Mt Wilson.

Well, because the area didn't want to burn in the first place, all they succeeded in doing was to start hundreds of little spot fires that smoldered for weeks, and are still contributing to Jody's excuse to keep the forest closed. Eventually all the imported hot shot crews that were monitoring the situation went home because it was clear that the slopes behind Mt Wilson were just not going to burn.


Listen to local bear warning on this mp3... *Click Here*

Another Tantrum

Jody Noiron has issued a gag order for employees of the Angeles National Forest. They are not to cooperate with the press, and they are definitely not supposed to talk to any public or friends.

What she doesn't seem to understand is that she has done nothing to foster any loyalty to herself. Most of her current and past employees do not like her, and if they can say something anonymously, something that might help have her removed from office, they will probably speak in spite of her "order"; in fact, they may speak just to spite her order. The threats of being fired are really getting old, and she is only making the work environment more hostile than it already is.

There is probably someone in charge of answering any and all questions by the press, but you can't believe anything that person will say.

How to Become a Wildland Firefighter

So you have a summer to kill, a hankering for adventure, and wouldn’t mind saving some pristine forest or maybe a family’s home from an inferno? Follow this link:

Out Of The Frying Pan & Into The Fire

Chris Kasten, Manager of Sturtevant's Camp, almost lost his beloved historical site in the Station Fire. Thanks to firefighters, its proximity to Mount Wilson, and a lot of publicity, the camp was saved. Just when he thought he was out of the woods, or back into them, the Sheep Fire erupted and is steadily marching up the Swarthout Valley.
Chris commutes to work in Big Santa Anita Canyon. He and his wife, Joan, actually live in Wrightwood, parts of which are now under voluntary evacuation from said fire that started in the Cajon area. What next?!!

Dear Mr. Pringle,

This is the letter I just sent in response to the [good] LA Times article by Paul Pringle...

Thank you for exposing the internal memo about cutting fire suppression costs on Region 5 of the National Forest system. This sheds more light on what we have already known - that there is a lack of suppression spending on the Angeles National Forest. Attached is a letter to Jody Noiron[here], Forest Supervisor, signed by six local members of Congress requesting answers to why the retention rate for fire fighters is so low on the Angeles; the date is July, 3 2007. The letter cites the cost of living being so much higher in Southern California than in most of The Country, and the relatively low pay. It does not show an awareness of the concerted effort to eliminate affordable housing owned by the Forest Service.

But the true ignorance of the letter is in what is scaring away the firefighters: Jody herself. She is, by all accounts, the nastiest person one would ever want to work for. She is responsible for most of the experienced and knowledgeable firefighters leaving The Angeles, and this is the crux of the problem. Until a few years ago it may have been sufficient to use only Forest Service resources in the first two days of the Station Fire, as directed by the memo, but with so many old-timers having left for consulting opportunities, and refusing to collaborate with Jody Noiron, The Angeles is left with crews and commanders that are completely unfamiliar with the San Gabriel Mountains and how they burn. The "mistakes" on the Station Fire would not have been made by seasoned San Gabriel Mountain firefighters.

There is much more to this story, and the story of The Angeles on the whole, and they warrant investigation. The letter you published merely deflects blame from Jody Noiron, and I expect to see some "removals" by her in the attempt to do the same.

Also attached is the letter to former fire chief Don Feser [here], which exemplifies Jody's attitude, and which led to Don's resignation

Feel free to email me for further investigation at gregsweet4@yahoo.com

Seriously & Hopefully,
Greg Sweet
San Gabriel Mountain Blog

Sheep Fire From Baldy Notch

I was on a field trip today with my Natural History class at Citrus College. We rode the ski lift to Baldy Notch. After lunch at the restaurant, we took a very short walk to where one can see the 'Cajon Amphitheater' and the Mojave Desert. Just after the desert came into view, so did a plume of smoke.

These were taken in the ten minutes that we talked about Pine trees. Notice how fast it grew...


These were taken within just a few minutes from returning to the restaurant/ski area. At first there was no smoke visible, but it quickly appeared over the ridge. The folks that work there had just been notified of the fire, and that it was down in Lytle Creek, which put it a good distance from us, but we decided to cut the visit a little short anyway...


Natural History Class - 3-Day Field Trip

Day Three was postponed for a week. We planned to go to Santa Rosa Island from Ventura, but they were predicting gale-force winds. Next Sunday Santa Cruz Island is available, but if weather does not permit the trip, we will have a plan B.

Day One: The San Andreas Fault Zone... Lytle Creek, Cajon Wash, Mormon Rocks, Wrightwood and Devil's Punchbowl.

Mormon Rocks

Devil's Punchbowl

Day Two: San Gabriel Canyon & Baldy... Morris Dam,  OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) Area, Rincon Station & Engine 22, East Fork, Glendora Mountain Highway, Baldy Village, Baldy Notch and San Antonio Falls.

Morris Dam

Morris Fire

ANF Engine 22

Mt San Antonio (Mt Baldy)

Baldy Ski Lift Looking Up

Baldy Ski Lift Looking Down

Devil's Backbone

Head of San Antonio Canyon

Head of Lytle Canyon

San Antonio Falls


Photo from Richard Nyerges of the Bear Canyon Trail Crew. This shot is from near Inspiration Point, across Eaton Canyon to the Wilson/Harvard complex. It shows how close the Station Fire got to the front side. Though the fire came much closer on the north side of the ridge, that environment is generally cooler and slower burning. Had the fire gotten onto the front side (south-facing slope) which is Chaparral, the result could have different.

Click to enlarge...