When you live in Southern California, there are just some things that are guaranteed. Our gas prices will always be the highest in the country. Traffic is always going to be an issue. Emissions laws will always be the most stringent in the country. And summer wild fires will always cause massive destruction.
Every summer here numerous wildfires jump up across the state. Naturally, they all have different causes; some are from careless campers leaving their fires unattended, some are set by arsonists, and others have unknown causes. These fires often destroy thousands of acres of land, homes, businesses, roads, and sometimes our OHV trails before they are brought under control and extinguished. This was the case with the recent Horse Fire outside of Alpine, California. The fire started July 23 in Horse Thief Canyon and destroyed 16,681 acres, injured 23 people, and burned for seven days straight until fire crews achieved full containment July 30.
Part of the acreage that was burned by the fire included approximately 85 percent of the Corral Canyon OHV area located in the Cleveland National Forest, effectively closing the area to OHV use. Over the next few months, plans were made to reopen the area to OHV recreation as quickly as possible while limiting access to sensitive areas damaged by the fire. Richard Tull, the new OHV Program Manager for Corral Canyon, decided to put out a call to the local off-road community for assistance. An e-mail regarding two volunteer days to help reopen the area was dispatched by Tull and quickly circulated around the local e-mail lists and forums.
On the first day, 42 volunteers gathered at the Four Corners staging area to work out the plans for the day and to load supplies. These volunteers represented several clubs and organizations including the Jeepaholics.com Web site, San Diego 4Wheelers, Just Runs 4WD Club, Tierra Del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club, San Diego Adventure Riders, San Diego Land Rovers, and the San Diego Off-road Coalition. The assignments were divided up, and teams set out to their appointed projects. These included trail marker replacement, trash collection, sign replacement, and of course fence installation. We tagged along with the fencing crew and installed fencing along Bronco Peak to keep people on the trail and off of the sensitive burned areas. Over the next eight hours, we drove about 2,000 fence posts and installed about a mile worth of fence before calling it a day. The second day saw 21 volunteers assembled at Four Corners on a cold, foggy, windy, and rainy morning. Despite the weather, the volunteers managed to install an additional half mile of fence and remove more debris from the trail.
Thanks to the hard work of the volunteers and members of the Forest Service, the first stage of the plan to reopen the Corral Canyon OHV area was a success. According to Tull, the first section of the OHV area was scheduled to reopen later in the year to recreational use. However a large portion of the area will remain closed due to major fire damage and erosion concerns. Once County crews finish shoring up areas of concern, the rest of the OHV area will be reopened as well. For more information on Corral Canyon, contact the Forest Service at Corral Canyon OHV (www.fs.fed.us/r5/cleveland/recreation/ohv/corral.shtml) or call 858.673.6180.