Thank you for staying on the trail with us after the Bobcat Fire. Here’s the news as of July 2021, and our hopes and plans going forward into 2022.
Big Santa Anita Canyon remains closed to the general public. Most of the surrounding Angeles National Forest has reopened, but for now, hiking into the canyon could still earn you a nasty fine.
In Camp, the immediate fire (and bear) damage has been cleaned up:
1. Reclaiming the bed capacity lost to the fire’s destruction of cabin #1 is on hold.
2. The primary focus of work has been on reclaiming and improving the intake system for water into camp and the public fountain. This has involved digging out a lot of melted, bent and broken pipes; hand-carrying a lot of replacement pipe up the (sketchy) trail, and hard-rock-mining-digging to get replacement pipe in place for the enhanced system. Special thanks to Peter, Mark and Dave!
Because of the projections of drought as the ‘new normal’, the system has been re-designed to capture and hold as much water as is available, and to meet the need for both potable (drinking) water and the micro-hydro system (generating electrical power from the natural flow of water). Special thanks to Paul and JT!
And: replacement tanks for the #2 & #3 tanks lost in the fire are now on the horizon (see below).
3. With the canyon closed and no guests in camp, normal maintenance is still required to hold the line against the general degradation of weather and the aging of historic buildings. We are also aiming to make improvements and repairs that would otherwise be difficult to accomplish around guests.
The U.S. Forest Service has not yet changed its estimate of keeping the forest closed until spring 2022. This is based on conditions in the canyon, including the network of trails, uncertain / unstable surface rock and soil conditions, remaining deadfall in the forest canopy, and the potential for sudden changes in conditions brought on by weather.
A renewed season of drought has left most of the hillsides intact but exposed and capable of ‘avalanching’ dirt and rocks. The little rain we did have has brought out a welcome display of greenery eager to make a place for itself in the new environment.
The Big News: Los Angeles County has announced that the road from the Santa Anita Avenue gate to Chantry Flat will be closed for six months starting October 2021. The purpose will be to do a major repair of the road where it has been down to one lane, not far from the pack station.
No vehicle will be able to physically cross the reconstruction zone; Los Angeles County said they will construct a temporary pedestrian pathway for the few U.S.F.S. residents of Chantry Flats, and Maggie Moran and her family at Adams’ Pack Station. They will have to stage shuttle vehicles on each side of the zone and walk between.
This situation is not new: around 2004, significant autumn rainstorms caused the road to collapse about a mile above the gate, and everything was shut down for almost a year. At camp, there were several work-arounds, but of course it was logistically very difficult (this is back when long-time manager Chris Kasten was hand-trucking propane tanks in and out of camp from Newcomb’s Pass).
What the road closure means & what happens next:
A. The main trail has been improved enough for Maggie and her donkeys to get through to camp; so we will complete as much packing as possible prior to the road closure (for example, cement mix for the water tank pads, replacement doors for the bear-ravaged refrigerators, etc.).
B. Regardless of the road closure, if the canyon remains closed to the public through spring 2022, we will use the time to make as much progress as possible on maintaining/repairing/improving the camp itself. The two biggest projects are the water tanks, and renovation of the Fireplace Room around the oak tree that continues to grow and lift up one whole side of the building.
C. If the U.S.F.S. opens the canyon to the public from the top (Mt. Wilson) before the Chantry Flat road is re-opened, we will explore creative ways to welcome guests into camp.
The October road closure and need to pack as much as possible before that date jumps forward our schedule to purchase the water tanks and other supplies, which puts fundraising front and center.
Sturtevant Camp is a genuinely non-profit organization and operation!
There are no paid employees, all work is done by volunteers, and guest revenue is turned around quickly to pay for a very short, basic list of expenses: propane, packing, other utilities, repair, maintenance, and improvements, plus annual permit fees to the U.S.F.S., county taxes, and insurance.
We are currently paying fees, taxes and insurance out of the cash in the checking account; there is no reserve fund or endowment but we can dream. Volunteers have funded many of the repair materials, and many small donations are helping along the way.
So we expect to present a simple fund-raising campaign soon, focused on the big ticket item of the water tanks, along with a few special projects to make the camp an even more compelling experience once guests can get their boots dusty coming up canyon. Until then, stay tuned, and thanks for your interest and support.
— The Sturtevant Conservancy, Deb, Paul, Teah, Danny and Gary