It was a tweet: “Laguna Vegetation Fire…one acre.”
Then a warning: “Extreme fire behavior with erratic canyon winds.”
Then it became reality: “…400+ firefighters on scene.”
Then it was in “our” park: “Command Center in Wood Canyon for #AlisoFire.”
Then it hit home: “Mandatory evacuations: Top of the World and Aliso Viejo.”
Then it hit my home with thick smoke coming over the ridge.
How many times this past week have we at Laguna Canyon Foundation — our staff, our board, our volunteers — heard our fellow hikers, bikers and trail users voice, “This is in MY park,” with questions about the oak tree on Wood Canyon…on Wood Creek Trail…at the bottom of Nature Loop/Coyote Run?
“Is ‘our’ oak tree ok?”
“What about the deer we saw last week?”
“How did any snakes possibly get out?”
“Are animals coming back?”
“My [dad, sister, uncle…] is a firefighter. I pray they’re ok.”
A fire ignited in the midafternoon on June 2, 2018 and burned approximately 175 of sensitive habitat inside Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. As of this writing, Coyote Run (South of Rock-it), Dripping Cave, and Nature Loop are closed.
The fire was started by a “juvenile accident.” The Orange County Register has reported that a boy came forward.
Now, thanks to hundreds of first responders, “our” wilderness is healing. The blackened hillsides may appear lifeless; however, natural recovery is already underway. The ash contains rich nutrients that will aid habitat regeneration.
So what can we do for our park?
As we read in airports, “If you see something, say something.” For public safety, including the habitat’s safety, please let the park office know if you see any off-trail use. Call 949-923-2200. If no answer, please leave a detailed message including time, date, location and description of the trespasser.
Sign up to volunteer with Laguna Canyon Foundation and OC Parks.
Stay Out. Please respect closure notices. Some areas are still unsafe. And entering closed areas could increase erosion, damage recovering plants and further traumatize displaced animals.
Be Patient. Land managers are working to reopen the trails for public access as soon as it is safe and feasible for visitors and habitat.
Donate. Laguna Canyon Foundation is working with OC Parks on clean-up and restoration efforts.
Subscribe to Laguna Canyon Foundation’s newsletter. Be informed.
Most importantly, be good stewards of the land. Pick up trash; take nothing. Stay on trails and avoid user conflict. Smile, share the trail and be grateful that “our” wilderness is safe.
Thanks to OC Parks for detailed information. Photos courtesy Ed Baranowski.