Orange County Branch Newsletter

July/August 2016

Community Service

Forest Service

By William Rapp

On June 21st, Greg Henk from ASCE Orange County Branch (ASCE OC)/Engineers Without Borders Orange County (EWB-OC) and Will Rapp from Engineers Without Borders Los Angeles (EWB-LA) met with several Forest Service (FS) team members and 2 new interested engineers from CSLA (Joan E. Santiago & Araceli Contreras), at the Wildwood Picnic Site in the Angeles National Forest.  The intent was to further the plans for EWB/ASCE to partner with the Forest Service in enhancing the experience for the public visiting this picnic site along Big Tujunga Canyon Road.

The preliminary efforts by Greg Henk and Gary Gilbert with ASCE OC had set up a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the FS, which evolved into EWB/ASCE proposing a pilot project (a sun/rain shelter) to be designed and supported by the engineer teams during project execution.  The site has 17 picnic tables with cooking grills, plus dry toilets, secure waste disposal containers, parking, and walking access to the adjacent Big Tujunga Creek (no water supply or electrical facilities, no sun/rain shelter facilities).

The primary take-away from the June 21st meeting was that the FS was significantly under-staffed to develop any enhancements to the Wildwood site, and that they were interested in having our engineer groups draft a Master Plan for renovation/upgrade to the site, inclusive of our proposed shelter addition.  They requested that our engineers develop a draft Master Plan design, budgetary cost estimates, timelines for required funding and for implementation, and resource contributions required (including our combined engineering resources).

This has expanded the vision for this partnership into something larger and more collaborative than originally conceived.  Will Rapp, along with 2 interested engineers from Jacobs Engineering (Pablo Mariaca and Corey Kramer), visited 3 sites on Saturday, July 16th, to follow up on another discussion from the June 21st meeting.  There are 4 sites which are considered "sister" sites to the Wildwood facility by the FS, all associated with Big Tujunga Creek.  In addition to Wildwood, they include Vogel Flats picnic site, Stoneyvale picnic site, and City Line site.  We visited all except City Line (which is near the entrance to Angeles Forest along Big Tujunga Rd).  The other 3 sites are within 2 miles of each other.  The object of visiting these sites is to support what the FS team refers to as the common themes and purposes of these sites, for the sake of future planning.

The 3 sites visited to date are different in their current characteristics and usage, and the FS team wants our engineers to focus only on Wildwood at this time.  Of the 4 "sister" sites, Wildwood is the largest and most heavily visited by the public.  Vogel Flats (approximately 2 miles away) is directly adjacent to the Big Tujunga Fire Station and Forest Ranger facilities, and Stoneyvale is ½ mile from there.  Vogel Flats has undergone significant renovation since the Station Fire and subsequent floods, with support from 2 partners - Alcoa Fastening Systems, and the National Forest Foundation.  It is currently not open to the public.  Stoneyvale is the smallest of the 3 sites, and is open to the public.

Wildwood has undergone some upgrades since the Station Fire of 2009, having lost several trees and other small facilities to the fire.  There is currently a relatively thin population of conifers and much open space to go with the public amenities.  As the FS team showed us, there are several man-made small rock dams which the public has placed, for the apparent purpose of making pools for wading and family gathering.  This has impacted the natural flow of the creek, plus it's associated flora and fauna.  There is some apparent conflict between "historic use" of the stream (i.e. dam construction) and ecological impact that remains to be discussed.

The EWB/ASCE team will arrange some brainstorming sessions with interested parties to support development of a Master Plan for Wildwood.  Note that the FS budget year begins October 1st, and it's unsure yet if there will be sufficient project development to insure that a commitment to the proposed pilot project can be assured funding in this cycle. If you are interested in becoming involved in this program, please contact [email protected].

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