Posts Tagged ‘brown mountain’

SCE Construction on Brown Mountain Fire Road

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
TRTP Signs on Brown Mountain

TRTP Signs on Brown Mountain

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.

TRTP 3rd Quarter Construction Update

Double-Click the image for a larger version

 

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.

 

Upper Brown Mountain Trailwork with the SoCal High School League, April 7, 2012

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Upper Brown Mountain before the 2009 Station Fire was a wide fire road in generally in good shape.  The rains of two winters and eighteen months without public use because of the forest closure have allowed nature to re-claim much of the old fire road. Many large drainages were completely washed out, the hillsides had slid into the road bed, trees were down, and brush was growing back with a vengeance.

Banner gives a safety talk and JHA

Banner gives a safety talk and JHA

Though still officially closed, the Forest Service closure signs have been gone for some time. People have been venturing up there to explore the now dead-end fire road. The fire road has narrowed to a singletrack for most of its length, narrowed by a combination of slough from above, severe erosion from below, and vegetation. Several of the newly narrowed sections were within inches of the edge of the old fire road, a potential hazard when two people are passing each other, or if riding the area at night as the edges were hidden behind grass. There was at least one large tree down, and several killer “snags” dead trees that were partially fallen, leaning against or resting on top of other trees along the trail. These can give at any time, and are a major safety concern on all trails in the burn area. Now two and a half years after the fire, many of these burned trees are rotting and weakening, and the likelihood of them falling increases with time.

Saturday’s trailwork was led by Banner Moffat of the Friends of El Prieto, and all the SoCal High School League teams and their coaches were invited to participate. Though there were only 35 RSVP’s, 52 people came to the event, a few ready to hike in, but the vast majority ready to ride up to the work site. A few stronger students and a couple of coaches towed BOB trailers full of tools.

Towing the tools up the hard way

Towing the tools up the hard way

Split into crews led by Mitch Marich and Matt Lay of the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, Steve Messer of CORBA, St. Francis coaches Lee Bird and Joel Sercel and others, the crews spread out along the length of the trail from the Ken Burton trailhead, all the way down to saddle. Downed trees were removed, killer snags taken down, and some drainages were rock-armored and reinforced. The student athletes got a lot done covering most of the sections from the Ken Burton down to the saddle.

The forest service is considering opening Upper Brown Mountain in its next revision of the forest closure order. Without some attention to safety and a demonstration that the community is willing to maintain it as singletrack, it might be a candidate for reopening until graded back to a fire road.

There were in total at least 54 people who volunteered their time. Of those ten were women and 41 were high school students. Teams represented included Crescenta Valley, St. Francis, San Gabriel Composite, Burroughs Burbank, and independent riders from South Pasadena and other areas.

CORBA is proud to support the SoCal High school league, and we applaud their efforts to create a high school program that includes such a balanced mix of teamwork, sportsmanship, competition and stewardship of our trails.