Many people have been wondering about the signs that were placed along Brown Mountain fire road (FS 2N70) over the past few months. The signs are ESA notices (Environmentally Sensitive Areas) which state “No Entrance Permitted” and have been placed there by the Tehachapi Renewable Transmissions Project (TRTP).
This is one of the most popular trails for off-road cyclists in the Angeles National Forest, because of its proximity to JPL and the Altadena/Pasadena community. It lies in Segment 11 of the project, which includes much of the Angeles National Forest front country through La Canada and Altadena.
The TRTP Environmental Impact Report states that this fire road is not intended to be part of the project. Elsewhere along the transmission line project towers are being replaced by helicopter and in some cases, by road access. The towers accessed along Brown Mountain fire road are not being replaced, but they are being re-wired from the Chaney Trail road access to the east. The re-wiring will nearly double the power-carrying capacity of the transmission lines, helping bring more renewable energy from Kern County to greater Los Angeles.
When the EIR for the project was completed the fire road was a wide fire road and easily traveled by high-clearance vehicles. Since the Station Fire it has grown in to a narrow single track in many places, and is not accessible to vehicles. We anticipate the fire road will eventually be graded back to its original width, and if we learn of any plans, we’ll be sure to pass them on.
According to local SCE Public Affairs officer Shannon Widor, the following information was supplied by the construction team in response to our questions:
- There will not be full closures of the trails in the area of trail 2N70 and Brown Mountain Road as part of SCE’s Tehachapi project. While trails will remain accessible for trail users, there may be periodic, brief delays on trails in construction areas at times when work activities cross those trail sites.
- SCE’s work will also include the use of temporary guard structures (to keep wires elevated during installation) at street and trail crossings to enhance safety during construction.
- Additionally, SCE has no plans to grade Brown Mountain Road at this time.
We can only assume that the signs are meant to remind employees and construction workers of sensitive areas to avoid, and in no way indicate any intention to close the trail/s.
The project also includes an eastern corridor that will include Van Tassell Motorway and fire roads above the Monrovia/Duarte area, as well as Workman Hill and other Habitat Authority lands around Turnbull Canyon. Construction updates, in the form of quarterly newsletters, are available online. The current newsletter indicates that road improvements will be taking place in some areas in preparation for construction, and that re-wiring of Segment 11 between the Gould and Goodrich Substations will begin.
The project is estimated to be completed in 2015, but for the moment we can continue to enjoy Brown Mountain fire road in its current narrow configuration for the immediate future.