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Environment

Controlled Burns Aim To Reforest San Diego's Mountains

Members of the California National Guard work alongside CalFire outside Fresno, August 30, 2019
Steve Walsh
Members of the California National Guard work alongside CalFire outside Fresno, August 30, 2019

The Cedar Fire blackened 10,000 acres in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in 2003. Now, the California Department of Parks and Recreation is setting fires there to try to bring back the forest.

Last week a parks department crew did a controlled burn to help remove an abundance of underbrush, and make way to plant native conifer seedlings that will replace the forest that was lost to wildfire.

Controlled Burns Aim To Reforest San Diego's Mountains
Listen to this story by Tom Fudge.

"Our reforestation project identifies the areas that used to be forested and we're replanting about a quarter of the 10,000 acres that we lost," said Lisa Gonzales-Kramer, an environmental specialist with the parks department.

She said the forest needs occasional fires to eliminate the brush that builds up on the forest floor, which can result in destructive blazes like the Cedar Fire.

"What we found is that decades of fire suppression practices just allowed too much fuel to build up on the forest floor," she said.

The parks department expects to burn more acres of low-lying brush at least once more this winter.

Setting fires to save the forest? That’s what the California State Parks department is doing in San Diego’s eastern mountains as part of a reforestation project. Hear why. Plus, Louisa May Alcott's novel “Little Women” has been adapted to the screen many times and now it gets a new one this year from Greta Gerwig. KPBS film critic Beth Accomando has this review. And, pulling a story from our archives, hear how difficult it is for a group of students from the City Heights neighborhood to make a trip to Pacific Beach.