Friends of the Forest® Day

Volunteers from Alcoa returned to their adopted picnic area on the Angeles National Forest to plant trees and continue restoration efforts.

March of 2012, more than 100 volunteers from the Alcoa Fastening Systems Carson Operations arrived at Vogel Flat Picnic Area on the Angeles National Forest for a Friends of the Forest day. Alcoa adopted the picnic area fall of 2011 and employees were eager to continue their work.

Damaged in the 2009 Station Fire and subsequent debris flows, the picnic area required a variety of improvements and repairs. Despite the presence of half a dozen or so large and majestic oak trees, oak regeneration at the picnic area has been limited. Volunteers pitched in to plant 100 native oak tree seedlings, clear weeds in tree planting locations, construct tree cages to prevent deer from nibbling on the seedlings, and water the newly planted trees. Six youth from the Los Angeles Conservation Corps guided volunteers in proper tree-planting techniques.

“It feels good knowing that we can do something for our environment,” said Emmanuel.

A team of particularly hardy volunteers grabbed shovels and McLeods and dug out a concrete wall that had been over-topped by eroded sediment, while others reinstalled BBQ grills that had been hastily removed by Forest Service staff before the post-fire winter floods reached the picnic area. Volunteers removed debris and brush, cleared sediment that had piled up around the base of the oak trees, and cleared weeds from around picnic tables.

Wildly popular among the 30 or so youth volunteers were the two painting projects. Children as young as two years old grabbed paint brushes to slap a new coat of paint on the restroom facility and the newly constructed parking lot barriers.

“Painting was my favorite!” declared Samantha.

Adults shoveled out the several-inch layer of mud caked to the restroom floors and hosed it down before a new coat of paint was applied to the walls. Native shrubs were planted in the two planter boxes outside the restrooms and volunteer ‘reporters’ snapped photos and asked their fellow volunteers for their thoughts on the day.

Near lunch time Smokey Bear and his firefighting buddies made a surprise visit and volunteers crowded around to get their picture taken with the forest celebrity.

Tired volunteers enjoyed a picnic lunch together at the end of the work day before heading home, excited about the visible progress they had made in restoring the picnic area.

Helping the community – it’s the right thing to do.

Bill Carrigan, Director of Operations at AFS Carson