• trash littered in a lush green canyon

      Close-up of the dump (Photo – Reg Green)

      I’ve been harsh on the Angeles Forest Service for a number of instances that I think show a sloppiness in their role as stewards of an extremely precious resource.

      By Reg Green

      It isn’t that I think they have an easy task. The number of visitors has gone up so rapidly that tons of trash of all kinds now have to be hauled out regularly:

      My impression is that this vandalism is concentrated in areas of heavy use, however. I wander quite widely and trails generally are neat and clean. A piece of candy wrapping that has fallen out of somebody’s pocket is very rare. That’s not surprising: cyclists and hikers love the surroundings as much as forest rangers do. Similarly, official contractors, like the ones who service the antennae at the top of Mt. Lukens, which alert first responders all over Southern California to fire dangers, accidents, flooding etc. are notable for treating the areas where they work responsibly.

      People who are too lazy to pick up pieces of paper are generally too lazy to stray more than a few feet from their cars, so their carelessness is both more visible and more easily dealt with. This has been true of one of the ugliest scenes I have ever come across in any national forest, a gully at a turnout near milepost 30 on Route 2 filled with what looks like a truckload of trash dumped there without thought.

      No one traveling from La Cañada to Palmdale could miss seeing it. It looks like a contractor hired to clean up a building site somewhere simply unloaded when no one was looking. The result: a lengthy eyesore of plastic and paper, toilets (!) food containers, beer cans, rubble, broken planks, you name it.

      I wrote to the forest service last December and they agreed it was “awful” but nothing happened. I wrote articles for the LA Times and ColoradoBoulevard.net which the forest service saw. Still no response. The only action since Christmas came from a few scavengers who hauled out some of the bottles and cans and anything else they could collect money on. Apart from that winter rains, spring growth and summer leaves had obscured some of the worst. Meanwhile, the turnout itself was filling up with the same kind of trash.

      Today I went on the hike where all those months ago I first spotted the mess and, astonishingly, the entire area had been cleaned up. The river of trash had been covered up or removed. The turnout has been swept. I am so pleased that this job has been done that I will refrain from further criticism and only observe that I’m equally pleased that ColoradaBoulevard.net was civic-minded enough to keep up the pressure.

      I do need to add a down note, however. The clean-up is under siege as the turnout is already littered with a fresh accumulation of papers and cans simply dropped from parked cars and left there. How disheartening this is.

      But like parents picking up after small children it has to be done even if tomorrow they have to pick up all over again. In time, let’s hope, that like small children the litterers will come to see that squalor is degrading not just to the environment but to themselves too.

      Colorful editions of ColoradoBoulevard.net newspaper print edition

      $16 for 1 Year

      Subscribe and join readers like you who support true grassroots journalism.

      We are your true local newspaper covering Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, San Marino, San Gabriel, and Alhambra.

      Why Subscribe?

      • We live here and we don’t outsource stories overseas.
      • We investigate!
      • We help our communities thrive and get informed.
      • We deliver to your residence.

      [asp_product id=”63180″]

      We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.

      Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.

      While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.

      You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.

      Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)



      1. Elizabeth says:

        I do what I can for trail maintenance and cleanup whenever I am on trail. I encourage everyone to pick up a bottle or move a rock.

        Once I was in a popular canyon and a teenager was tagging the canyon wall with his parents and grandparents silently watching him. I stood at a distance and in my most authoritative tone told him to knock it off. Two other hikers stopped and silently stood watch with me for about five minutes. Then the family with the tagging teenager moved off. I stayed until they were out of sight. The looked back a couple of time to see if I and the other hikers remained. When they were gone, I did my best to remove the tagging.

        Yes, I’m a middle aged white woman. If this makes me a Karen, then I’m proud to be one. Someone has to say something and take a stand when they see our natural spaces being vandalized by multigenerational families teaching bad habits to their youngsters.

      2. Lee says:

        There’s a place in the forest (to remain un-ID’ed) that has been closed to the public because of lack of funds to supervise it. Even there, I find trash dumps on the road and littering all over the areas people walk – worse this year because of Covidiots. I always bring a plastic trash bag and gloves and clean up what I can of it. No more than a token, but it’s something. Why do people go to nature to just destroy it?

      3. Oscar says:

        One way to fix this problem is to install weight stations at each the beginning of the crest and one at the end for pickup trucks and trailers so if somehow you come out lighter on the other side than you’d have some explanation due.

      4. chris says:

        It’s a war between adequate funding and an ever growing army of people who simply don’t care about anything but themselves. WIth outdoor recreation becoming increasingly popular, the problem will only get worse.

      5. Not an employee says:

        The core problem is, as you note, an ever-growing number of people using their public lands but the CORE problem is that the number of paid employees who can clean up the growing mess continues to be reduced year after year even as the USFS’s budget is cut year after year.

        Fire and Resource departments within the USFS get more funding even as Recreation gets defunded, resulting in an inability to hire employees.

        At the same time, unpaid volunteers are few and far between, and the USFS does not provide Hep inoculation or other medical proactive measures which makes cleaning up after other humans less dangerous — and unpaid volunteers can only do so much, they require oversight, safety, best practices, and policy oversight.

        So don’t blame the USFS for this inability to collect the growing mountain of trash, blame the entities which cut funding and divert funding to other areas which — also true — aren’t funded nearly as much as they should be.

        • Michael Botello says:

          I commute to and from Palmdale from la 5 days a week and I see it all the time. Anyway to sign up to clean up voluntary? My Honda fit can hold so much. Lol.

      6. Bev Ashley says:

        Perhaps decades ago I read an article about the vast amounts of trash the FS had to remove from San Gabriel Canyon every weekend. They didn’t have enough people or trucks to finish, so it was a constant battle. Diapers, household trash, furniture…

      7. Kay Peck says:

        That just hurts to look at. I was taught to clean up after i camped. but I was a Girl~scout,

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *