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News

Public Fire Update, October 1st, 2020

Greetings to all friends of Sturtevant Camp.

As previously announced, Deputy U.S. Forest Supervisor Rachel Smith recently hosted a closed Zoom call to share a first-round report from the disaster assessment Team. The criteria for the report was that only those structures that could be clearly identified and were intact would be reported at this time. Buildings lacking a clear name or number, or that were destroyed and thus unidentifiable, would not be reported at this time.

  • On the first reporting call, she was able to confirm about forty cabins intact in the main Canyon; there are other cabins intact, and other cabins damaged or destroyed—but those are not yet reported.
  • Smith did say that the Team could not access Sturtevant from the south because of severe rock slides on the trail. Instead, they would make another attempt, coming down from Mt. Wilson.

Now this Wednesday evening, we’ve received the report of that hike, and: Sturtevant Camp is largely intact, including the historic main Lodge, Honeymoon Cottage, Manager’s/Host Cabin, and Cabin #s 2-3-4.

With you, we are tremendously relieved by this news; we are a bit amazed that the fire did not totally overrun the Camp, but most of all we are grateful.

We are also tremendously grateful to all those who put their lives on the line and in the air to manage a voracious fire that continues to burn.

Now about “Largely intact”: because the report was by photo verification, we note that we don’t have photos of Cabin #1, which was clearly marked. We also do not have photos of the Retreat Cabin, Bathhouse, and Ranger Cabin, but all these lacked signage and may be in the Team’s “unidentified file” yet to be disclosed (the Team was not from the USFS which knows the Canyon, but from L.A. County.)

If we lost some structures to the fire, we’ll add our grief to those permittees who lost their cabins. With them, we will have all lost irreplaceable examples of history in the San Gabriel mountains. And with them, we will assess how to renew our Camp’s capacity to welcome people to the Canyon. With this good news comes a new set of challenges, and the reality that it will be a while before we can resume hosting guests at Camp.

Along with not knowing which if any buildings we may have lost, we also don’t know what “intact” really means: there could still be some partial damage to roofs, for example. Similarly, we do not know the condition of our water supply: it would not be a surprise to find that our intake system (which is at a distance from the Camp) has been disrupted.

Given what we know about fire in the San Gabriels (based on the 2009 Station Fire,) the next hazard is likely to be winter rains and accompanying mud/rock/debris falls. These will threaten or impact trail access, which relates directly to the following:

  • We do not know how close or to what degree the fire came to the Camp perimeter: if the forest uphill/above the upper bunkhouses has been burned off, that exposes our notoriously loose geology to rain. That could mean debris flows down the hillside to the bunkhouses that will need to be mitigated.
  • We do not know the location or nature or extent of the trail blockage that prevented the assessment Team from coming up the Canyon—but it must be serious! Rachel Smith reported that she had planned to enter the Canyon herself to get a first-hand take on the situation, but the crew informed her that it was not safe for her—and she’s a former hot-shot fire-fighter and smoke jumper. “They’ve never told me that before!” she said.
  • So, when pressed for a timeline of when the trail would be cleared of major hazards and permittees allowed to enter (all before the general public can enter,) she was honest in saying that all work crews on are the fire lines, and it would certainly be weeks if not months before we might have access.

In light of these unique circumstances, when we have any answers ,we’ll share those and invite your help in being part of opening the Canyon once again to everyone who loves the mountains. When we have any more detailed news on the Camp itself, we’ll post it here. Until then,

Happy trails,.

For the Board,
Deb, Paul, Suzanne, Danny and Gary

 

Categories
News

Public Fire Update, September 29th, 2020

 

Thanks again for your interest and patience. Yesterday, Deputy U.S. Forest Supervisor Rachel Smith hosted a closed Zoom call with all the cabin owners, including Sturtevant Camp. It was very well done, and sensitive to the concerns of the ‘permittees’, especially given that there’s really no new information yet. Here’s a synopsis of key points that were presented and emerged in the following Q&A.

  1. The fire is well-contained on the Canyon side of Mt. Wilson, but remains active to the north, and the Observatory continues to see nearby flare-ups. The persistence of the fires (here and elsewhere) is also the cause of the main constraint on everything else: everyone is fighting the fires, so there’s “nothing left on the shelf” for some of the other things we might wish for (like an early assessment of the Canyon, clearing trails, etc.)
  2. Next week a county damage assessment team is scheduled to enter the Canyon, with an update to cabin owners shortly after that. Until then, nobody knows the status of anything in the Canyon. It’s also unclear if they intend or will be able to get to the upper Canyon, including Camp.
  3. The Chantry road is passable, but the gate is closed and the National Forest remains under an indefinite ‘hard’ closure. There was extended discussion of how to protect the Canyon from ‘disaster tourists,’ vandals, robbers and arsonists who will ignore the closure (all very real threats based on experience.) There was heavy emphasis on getting Maggie and the few other Chantry residents back on site, both for their own sake, and to have eyes on the ground there.
  4. There was discussion about future debris removal, rebuilding cabins, county codes, etc. Nothing decisive, more later.
  5. The cabin owners invited the USFS to “exploit us!” in the sense that everyone sees themselves individually and collectively as stewards of the canyon environment and history. Most everyone is skilled at trail work, and the owner’s association will be setting up a way to fast-track people signing up as official Angeles Forest Volunteers. (Camp hosts will be recruited directly.) An added goal is to have more people go through formal sawyer training.

The Board of the Sturtevant Conservancy has been in constant connection from Day 1 of the fire, including a recent formal meeting. We’re taking a triage approach to scenario planning, and developing a punch-list for our own assessment team to get into Camp as soon as we’re permitted to do so. Based on both the USFS projections and our own experience working in the Canyon, we do not expect to see public hiking, much less campers or guests anytime in the near future.

There will however be work to do, not just trail-building & repair, but also building awareness and resources for whatever the task/s ahead may be. Rachel reported the USFS is experiencing “tremendous community interest” in the status and well-being of the Canyon, and we know by your many posts, messages, texts and emails that our Sturtevant community extends across all of southern California and far beyond. We hope you will stay close as we both wait and prepare for the next chapter.

We’ll keep you posted here.

For the Board, Deb, Paul, Suzanne, Danny and Gary

 

Categories
Fire News

Public Fire Update, September 16th, 2020

Thank you for your interest in and concern for Sturtevant Camp, especially now in light of the Bobcat fire. Here is what we can say today with some certainty:

There is every indication that the fire has moved directly through the upper Big Santa Anita Canyon and therefore the camp. However, we do not know the impact on the buildings and infrastructure, and we won’t know until we can put boots on the ground.

That is a very long way off. Even when the fire is confirmed to be done in the canyon, it will be a very hazardous environment. This starts with air quality: until winter rains thoroughly soak the ash and soot on and into the ground, hiking much less working in the canyon will be extremely unhealthy. The other immediate hazard will be standing burned trees and the threat of deadfall. Simply getting into the camp will likely be very difficult because of downed trees, etc. Based on previous fires in the San Gabriels, such as the Station Fire, we know that once the rains come, it will get worse.

The Forest Service will decide when the National Forest can be opened to the general public. Because we are permit holders, we expect and will request to have early access prior to that opening. At that time, we’ll make a detailed assessment of the camp and begin to take every action to conserve what is there and to preserve general safety.

Once we have a clear picture of the status and condition of the infrastructure the questions will turn to the future, starting with:

  • What the Forest Service will allow
  • What is physically possible and financially feasible
  • How can we best serve the public good

Since Wilbur Sturtevant recognized the special qualities of this little place in the canyon, put up a few tents and invited people to come into the canyon almost 130 years ago, Sturtevant Camp has been a touchstone of the San Gabriels and a portal into the wilderness experience. We know that whatever the fire has done, the forest will renew itself, as it has before, and people will seek to come for the unique gift of the wilderness. We hope you will join with us in continuing to make that possible in the seasons ahead.

For more information as it becomes available, check-in here and/or friend “Wilbur Sturtevant” on Facebook.

The Board of the Sturtevant Conservancy,
Deb, Paul, Sue, Danny, and Gary. and the Friends of the San Gabriels

 

Categories
Volunteer

Help Us Dig Out Our Leach Field

Being a volunteer at a non-profit camp sure has its challenges. The latest is dealing with an aging infrastructure, learning how septic systems work, and finding volunteer manual labor. This weekend Sierra Madre Search and Rescue helped to dig out the Retreat Cabin septic tank and 40 feet of leach field line. However, there is more digging to do to find the blockage and, quite frankly, I am exhausted from two weekends of digging. I sure could use your help.

If you are looking for a great upper body workout or an opportunity to spend time in a beautiful location for a very worthy cause, please join me next Saturday (April 15). I will provide lunch and all the tools. If you want to spend the night, you are welcome to do that, as well.

Please call 626-447-7356 or email dburgess@sturtevantcamp.com and let me know if you will be joining the “party”.

Thank You,
Deb Burgess, Volunteer Manager

Categories
News

Sturtevant Camp Pricing Notice

New Pricing Structure in 2017

The pricing structure for Sturtevant Camp is going to change in 2017. Rather than a per person price for the cabins, we are moving to a flat rate per cabin or the main area. This means that there will no longer be a minimum number required to reserve. We are hoping that this will simplify the pricing. There is a price increase for the smaller numbers in each cabin, but a big price break for the full capacity of one or more cabins.

The price increase was built in to support the changes we have incorporated in camp:

  • Improved Cabin Feel (more homey)
  • Sheets, pillow cases, and blankets now provided for all cabins
  • Coffee, Tea, and Oatmeal now provided
  • Condiments and charcoal now provided
  • We are adding solar for a quieter and cleaner electricity experience. Note that the micro-hydro system will continue to be an option when there is sufficient water

Prices through 2016

Retreat Cabin and Honeymoon Cottage: $45 and $40, respectively, per person per night with a 2 person minimum. The reservation is pre-paid with no refund. If people are added, then you need to remit the balance.

Guest Cabins, Main Area, Entire Camp: $40 per person per night with a 5 person minimum for each cabin, 20 for the main area and 30 for the entire camp. The reservation requires a 50% deposit with final payment including additional guests due the Thursday before their stay.

New Pricing Starting 2017

Retreat Cabin: $125 per night for 2-3 people and then $250 for 4-6 people. This will continue to be pre-paid with no refund.

Honeymoon Cottage: $90 per night, sleeps up to 2. This will continue to be pre-paid with no refund.

Guest Cabin: $275 per night regardless of the number of guests (up to 8). Pre-paid with 50% refund if cancelled with 3 week notice.

Main Area: $1150 per night, regardless of the number of guests (up to 34) which provides for exclusive use of the kitchen and reservation of the 4 guest cabins plus the honeymoon cottage. Pre-paid with 50% refund if cancelled with 3 week notice.

Entire Camp: We will eliminate this option. If you want the full camp then you need to book both the main area and the retreat cabin.

Reserve a Cabin Now »

Categories
News

2016 New Year Report

Summary of 2015

2015 was a busy time for Sturtevant Camp and the Friends of the San Gabriels. It was a year of restoration, improvements, new procedures, marketing, and meeting a lot of new people. Here are some of the accomplishments:

  • The Friends of the San Gabriels purchased Sturtevant Camp in April, 2015. 95 donors made this purchase possible. Donations continue to be received periodically.
  • The US Forest Service approved the organizational permit in July 2015.
  • Over 200 volunteers worked diligently during the summer and fall to conduct fuel reduction (fire clearance), improvement of the heliport trail, cabin painting, re-routing the trail into Camp, posting of an introduction and welcome sign, creation of retaining walls, and miscellaneous repairs and maintenance. Termites are under control.
  • Water tank #2 (the redwood tank) was re-commissioned and Water tank #3 (poly tank) was converted to a potable tank. All three water tanks are now plumbed into a single system providing over 5000 gallons of storage water. New water treatment procedures and tank rotation insures good quality water with better chlorine retention time.
  • Eighteen new hosts have been trained, with several that have spent time in Camp.
  • New sheet sets were purchased and now the guest cabins have matched sheets. A new procedure to always provide sheets, pillow cases, and blankets has been put in place.
  • The guests cabins have begun their transformation to theme cabins. Cabin 1 = Pack Train Rest Stop; Cabin 2 = Forest Friends Hangout; Cabin 3 = Bob Cat Lair (new wall hanging in progress); Cabin 4 = The Bear Den (new wall hangings and decorations are in place.
  • Coffee is set out on weekend days, the main lodge is propped open to welcome hikers inside, a set of nine chairs are always out for hikers to rest, cabin brochures are posted, and a host is in Camp to greet hikers, as well as provide information for the Camp. This has resulted in numerous reservations during 2015 and into 2016.
  • The number of likes on Facebook and followers on Instagram has increased significantly. Newsletter signups are now over 1000.
  • A new reservation system is in place to ease the front end and back end operations. The website has its own theme, but is still linked to Adams’ Pack Station, Friends of the San Gabriels, and Big Santa Anita Canyon websites. The url for sturtevantcamp.com and sturtevantcamp.org was secured.
  • Reservations for both the main area and retreat cabin were some of the highest in years. This trend is continuing for 2016.
  • The Camp has been signed up with Groupon and HipCamp. Ads on Facebook will begin showing on Facebook in January 2016. This will be targeted to people who have searched online for camps to stay in.
  • A Grant proposal was submitted to LA County Parks and Recreation for $170,000 repairs, maintenance, and restoration. The California Conservation Corps will provide the labor. The approval is on schedule for early 2016 with work to begin late spring.

Cabin improvements in the newly named Bear Den

And for the New Year – 2016:

The focus for 2016 will be to continue with infrastructure improvements, marketing, and guest satisfaction. Here are some of the plans.

  • Complete the transformation of the guest cabins to theme cabins (add decorations and interpretive signs).
  • Get the microhydro (water-based electricity) back online. There has not been enough water for several years. We will have sufficient water at least through early summer and then may have to revert back to the generator.
  • Paint the inside of the bathhouse, retreat cabin, and manager’s cabin. Replace carpet in the retreat cabin and manager’s cabin with wood flooring to provide for more durability, easy cleaning, and prevent the need to vacuum. Refinish the floor of the honeymoon cottage and put sealer on the walls.
  • Continue to expand marketing sources.
  • Introduce Theme Weekends. See the weekends we have scheduled so far HERE