San Gabriel Valley Tribune

San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Article Published: Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 7:19:59 AM PST

Our View
Road closure taking too long

MOTHER Nature took the decision over whether to open the road to Chantry Flat out of the hands of U.S. Forest Service personnel who had closed the road to the popular hiking area for most of the summer and fall.

No rockslides, gaping cracks, or dangerous conditions led the service to close off the road to visitors. Refurbishing a picnic area was the deciding factor in keeping the public off the thousands of acres of public land beyond the tables and benches.

Now, after the public was denied access for close to a year, the floods have added insult to injury. Sixteen tons of mud and debris from January's two-week deluge has blocked a portion of the road in Arcadia and likely sealed the fate of hikers and others who anticipated the road's impending reopening at the end of January.

It does no good to rail against natural disasters but the slide and erosion of land beneath the roadbed guarantees there will be no access until at least the summer, when Los Angeles County Department of Public Works estimates the road can be reopened.

After keeping the road closed for much of the year, even the optimistic prediction of a June reopening is just too long. Local Reps. Dave Dreier, R-Glendora, Gary Miller, R-Brea, Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena and Hilda Solis, D-El Monte need to work toward putting money into the cleanup and more Forest Service crews on the ground to assist the county in cleanup and repair.

We commend Dreier and the others for urging the president to approve the federal disaster declartion request from Gov. Schwarzenegger. The money is needed to repair the roads leading into the front-facing mountains, including Highway 39 above Azusa, where a good portion of the road has been washed out.

Certainly if this was Yosemite, we'd likely have Federal Emergency Management people parachuting into the gunk to write up cost assessments. As is, FEMA has been noncommital about giving the region any disaster funding even though blocked and destroyed roads and bridges certainly qualify as disastrous, certainly to those who live and play within these mountainous areas.

Understandably, clearance efforts have focused on those mountain roads that serve large population centers and/or pass- through traffic. Those include Lake Hughes, Bouquet Canyon, San Francisquito Canyon and Topanga Canyon Boulevard in western L.A. County. But the eastern region needs attention as well, and ought to get it.

The Angeles receives more visitors annually than Yosemite, yet the area attracts little attention from lawmakers who ought to be fighting tooth and nail to get the access roads passable. Californians need to get a little more return on their tax dollars sent to Washington. Now would be a very good time to change those rates of return and put the people's forest right again.

Our Views state the opinion of this newspaper. Editorial board members provide input but editorials do not necessarily represent their personal view.

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE EDITORIAL BOARD: Ron L. Wood, San Gabriel Valley Newpaper Groups publisher; Talmage Campbell, executive editor; Steve Hunt, managing editor, Steve Scauzillo, editorial page editor, Linda Beckman, editorial broad member, Paula Green, editorial board member.

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Los Angeles Newspaper Group