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‘Just Leave It Alone’: Tree-Planting Fails To Take Root After Station Fire

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The historic Station Fire of 2009 burned through more than 250 square miles of land north of Los Angeles, proving to be the biggest and most deadly in a series of wildfires that summer. (Photo credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

The historic Station Fire of 2009 burned through more than 250 square miles of land north of Los Angeles, proving to be the biggest and most deadly in a series of wildfires that summer. (Photo credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Jon Baird Jon Baird
Jon Baird has done general news, consumer, business and sports...
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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Was a plan to re-seed the land devastated by a massive 2009 wildfire with trees all just a big waste of money?

KNX 1070′s Jon Baird reports the initial plan was to put down 3 million seedlings over some 11,000 acres chewed up by the Station Fire.


But after finding only about one-quarter of the fir and pine tree seedlings flourishing, one wildlife expert believes the wrong types of trees may have been planted in the Angeles National Forest.

“Shrub-dominated habitat doesn’t necessarily have any trees at all,” said Richard Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute. “And there’s no trees because there’s not enough water.”

Halsay said the U.S. Forest Service should simply allow nature to run its course and stop interfering with the area’s recovery — something he said should have been done immediately in the fire’s aftermath.

“You can’t try to create or manufacture an environment in the wild,” he said. “You can do it around your yard, but when you’re talking about wild land you ought to just leave it alone.”

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service were not yet ready to respond to questions about the strategy.

Homeowners who have signaled support the growth of trees in the foothills in order to effectively serve as a buffer for mudslides and erosion should also consider that the chaparral is one of the top water retention vegetation types in the world, Halsay said.

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