‘Land of Many Uses’ being used as dumping ground

first_imgMike Alarid, a superintendent with a Forest Service “hot shot” firefighting crew, has adopted two cats and a dog abandoned in the Angeles National Forest. The Forest Service finds abandoned pets about every month – sometimes they have died of starvation. “Most of the time they’re old, and I think they just put them out here to fend for themselves,” Alarid said. “But that’s cruel, man.” In 2000, a large snake was seen moving around in San Gabriel Canyon near the Cattle Canyon Bridge. By the time a Forest Service agent got to the location, the snake had slithered onto East Fork Road and been run over and killed by a car. The refugee reptile turned out to be a boa constrictor, more than 8 feet long and definitely not indigenous, Florea said. Then there are the abandoned items that appear like mysteries from a science fiction or thriller TV show. One year, a group of store mannequins was left in the forest. About 10 years ago, a dead cow placed on a couch was found near a secondary road, which was hard to explain because the 655,000-acre Angeles National Forest does not have any range land for cattle, Florea said. And then, there’s the strange case of an airplane drink cart, the kind flight attendants push down the aisle, that was found bent up and jammed among boulders in a remote canyon north of Claremont, Florea said. The cart is too heavy and too far from a road to remove. Some have speculated it might have fallen from a plane. “People have suggested that, yeah, but I don’t even know how that might have happened,” Florea said. The Forest Service also has found items that show how people use isolated parts of the Angeles National Forest to operate outside the law. That includes growing marijuana, although the last big bust in the Angeles was in 2004. Cans of Spam are commonly found around a marijuana patch, along with PVC pipe for irrigation. Growers who live in the forest and grow marijuana live off the canned meat, Florea said. Gun enthusiasts have been known to truck old water heaters and ovens to the forest for target practice, then abandon the items on the landscape, Florea said. It isn’t rare to come across a body in the Angeles – victims of homicide, traffic crashes or natural causes. The forest is a cemetery of sorts for motorists who’ve gone off the side of a treacherous canyon road and died of exposure without being rescued, Florea said. Hunters have suffered heart attacks and died alone among the trees. But mostly forest workers find trash – construction material, computers, compact discs and paint cans. “This is all influenced by the fact that there’s millions of people in Southern California, and a lot of national forests and more remote parts of the West don’t see these kinds of things as much. There’s fewer visitors,” Florea said. [email protected] (661) 257-5253160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “The things that could be sold at a garage sale or a swap meet, we usually don’t see,” said Stanton Florea, spokesman for the Forest Service. “The things we see dumped on the forest, it would take money to dispose of.” The Angeles’ proximity to major urban areas makes it different from other national forests, which usually are more isolated. That has resulted in a hefty load of dumped items making its way to the Angeles – up to 300 tons a year, Florea said. Abandoned vehicles make up a large part of the weight. Last year, 44 vehicles were left in the Angeles. Food wrappers are light in weight, but take up a lot of volume. Volunteers and Forest Service workers clean up the trash, and report some of the more disturbing finds. Abandoned pets, such as a dog or a cat tied to a post with a bowl of food, are usually handed over to animal welfare agencies. Sometimes a Forest Service worker will adopt the animal. ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST – As visitors drive away from the lush green views of the Angeles National Forest, they pass a sign with the slogan “Land of Many Uses.” To the disappointment of park rangers, illegal dumping is one of the uses visitors have found for the natural landscape of the Angeles National Forest, vast wilderness that stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to the Antelope Valley and borders Santa Clarita on three sides. Violators are dumping a lot more than beer bottles and old mattresses. A live boa constrictor, a dead cow on a couch and home appliances shot up for target practice are just some of the things left in recent years in this urban forest land. last_img read more