Life after the Station Fire

By Brandon HENSLEY

Almost a year after the Station Fire devastated Angeles National Forest, there is photographic evidence that life is returning to normal.

That much was on display Aug. 5  in front of a large audience inside the La Crescenta Library community room, where Corina Roberts, Angeles National Forest employee and resident,  presented a lengthy slideshow chronicling the months of natural recovery the forest has had since last August.

Roberts was working at Mt. Wilson – where she also lived – when the fire began, and decided she would stay in forest. “I felt like it would be worth it to be in a place where things were happening as far as the environment is concerned,” she said.

Roberts’ main intent was to portray fire as a natural element, and inform people of the way nature can recover by itself. In packets that were available along a table in the back, information on the dangers of an overcrowded forest was detailed: “Without the culling effect of fire, stands of forest become densely overcrowded with new trees which would compete with each other in a struggle to reach sunlight.”

In her photo documentary, Roberts covered several areas of the forest, including the Tujunga Canyons and Charlton Flats. She showed the aftermath in the fall, where hillsides were blackened and full of charred rock. Earth’s ground was still so vulnerable to movement, Roberts said “It was like walking on baby powder.”

Many photos were of burnt chaparral. “Chaparral needs to burn to the ground about once every 10 to 40 years, and then it will actually regrow from the base,” Roberts said.

She showed the winter months, like in January when snow had covered mostly everything, but yet yucca flowers were blooming, and leaves on oak trees were beginning to appear.

As the spring photos rolled around, the many types of flowers appearing became a theme, such as yucca, lupins, and whispering bells.

“It got to a point where you could just turn around and take a picture,” Roberts said. “You didn’t really have to focus, it
really didn’t matter. It just really wasn’t hard work to do this, and probably some of the most joyful work I’ve ever done in my life.”