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Pocket Forest in Southern California and USFS Freddies

Our Forest Freddies aren't the evil monsters so many of us think they are. Many are as much in love with our remaining wilderness areas as we are.
John Seals, USFS, working with volunteers on the Mount Waterman Project
John Seals, USFS, working with volunteers on the Mount Waterman Project
Volunteers repairing Soldier Creek Hiking Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area
Volunteers repairing Soldier Creek Hiking Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area
USFS and young volunteers restoring Golden Cup Nature Trail, Crystal Lake
USFS and young volunteers restoring Golden Cup Nature Trail, Crystal Lake
USFS and volunters busting up illegal rock dams across the San Gabriel River
USFS and volunters busting up illegal rock dams across the San Gabriel River
USFS Holding volunteer appreciation lunch at Rincon Education Center
USFS Holding volunteer appreciation lunch at Rincon Education Center
Exhausted volunteers pause for a rest and for water, Golden Cup Nature Trail
Exhausted volunteers pause for a rest and for water, Golden Cup Nature Trail
Pocket Forest in Southern California and USFS Freddies

Greetings, Portland Indymedia people! It's been over a year since I posted any commentary on what's going on with the Angeles National Forest down here in the South so I'm posting a brief update.

One of the reasons why I do this from time to time is because there is a national perception that the United States Forest Service is a force for evil, a government agency on the payroll of the paper companies and lumber corporations that are basically the rough equal to any traditional organized crime ring one could care to point toward.

Hell, admittedly in many parts of the United States I would have to admit that this is undeniably, monstrously true; the USFS and the BLM have been and continue to be willing to dance to the string pulls of their corporate masters, selling out our national heritage, seeped in crime, corruption, and (dare I suggest it?) treason against the American people, all for the love and greed of money.

But there's another layer of people out there, human beings who work for the Forest Service who actually do love and respect nature, who are motivated by their desire to live and/or work outdoors, who strive to provide a safe and relatively clean recreation experience for other humans, balanced (well, an effort to balance, any way) with the needs for a healthy and safe environment for non-humans.

I'm an unpaid volunteer with the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders down here in Southern California, and I volunteer my time and (usually very extreme) efforts in the Angeles National Forest, working within the San Gabriel River Ranger District of the USFS. I work along side of the USFS people in the field though more commonly along side of other unpaid volunteers who share a love for the wilderness as much as I do.

You can see what I and others do down here at  link to www.CrystalLake.Name if you have the time.

What I find is that the field people of the USFS that I some times work along side, they all share a love for the wilderness. They're out there swamping out toilets, scrubbing graffiti off of rocks, trees, signs and what not, busting up illegal rock dams, planting trees, organizing volunteer efforts, all because they love the forest as much as I do.

The Freddie in the field down here in Southern California aren't the average fat-cat Washington criminal sucking off corporate dick and screwing the American people. They're massively, extremely hard-working people protecting the environment and the animals that live there as best they can.

Some week ends in the canyons where I and so many others volunteer, we get something around 20,000 visitors crammed packed side-by-side. The humans have an enormous health and safety impact not only on each other but on the health and safety of the environment and our furry, fuzzy, slimy, scaly little critter cousins who live there.

The USFS as well as unpaid volunteers patrol these canyons constantly, putting out fires, getting firearms confiscated, getting drunk drivers taken off of our highways, carting out several tons of garbage left by visitors every week, collecting litter along the river and trails, picking up broken glass, handing out flyers covering the locations and conditions of hiking trails - all the usual hard effort that rarely seems to get discussed in progressive web sites like Indy.

Fact is, I love my Forest Service - the people down in the trenches, I mean, not the god damned piles of treasonous shits in Washington who see our wilderness areas as means to fatten their own wallets and numbered bank accounts out in the Cayman Islands. I love what the USFS does down here because I see that they love the forest as much as I do.

Back in the year 2002 we had the Curve Fire sweep through the canyons, starting North of the Crystal Lake Campgrounds by some people conducting a Christian Catholic ritual involving killing little animals and using candles which apparently got out of hand (we have a majority visitor population of Mexicans.)

That fire swept North along the canyons and the San Gabriel River, rushing quickly Northward along Highway 39 up to Angeles Crest Highway (highway 2) where the fire encountered moist underbrush and finally got knocked down. At the onset of that fire over 20,000 people were evacuated North ahead of the fire. We had over 20,000 people camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, picnicking in the area that week end.

That fire was the worse it has ever been down here insofar as a massive safety risk to the health of the visitor public and the safety of the Forest Service people. But during the evacuations, the destruction of emergency vehicles, the destruction of Forest Service visitor centers and everything else, the USFS Freddies held their ground to evacuate every visitor from the danger zones, routinely joining up with rescue people, fire fighters, police officers, medical workers and other trained people to re-enter the fire zones at great risk to round people up and (some times literally) drag them to safety.

The only people who could not be evacuated were two guys living in cabins down near an area calling Falling Springs, and they only survived by climbing into the water tank that they had up the hill while the cabins and forests burned around them. Rescue couldn't get to them in time, but it was Freddies that were first to locate them after hiking down the still-melted highway to evacuate them South.

Any way, that's the way things are down here in our pocket forest in Southern California.

homepage: homepage: http://www.crystallake.name/