Griffith Park trails remain closed 4 months after fire

Nicole Sharp

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It has been more than four months since Los Angeles’ beloved Griffith Park was scorched in a fire that burned more than 800 acres and destroyed about 25 percent of the park’s natural habitat. The fire closed many of the public hiking trails and picnic areas.

The aftermath of the park’s fire is evident in the bareness of the hills. Once colorful hillsides are now blackened, burnt symbols of what occurred in May.

There are now signs of life beginning to spring up all over the park. Some of the picnic areas have been opened up along with some of the park attractions, such as the children’s pony rides and playgrounds. Some of the park’s natural vegetation has begun to re-grow as well.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with other city officials, has proposed a special $50 million fund to help restore Griffith Park. The Griffith Park Recovery Fund was first introduced by Villaraigosa in late May.

The main issue with some of the park’s visitors is not how much the fund has, but when will the hiking trails be reopened.

Paul Davis, environmental specialist with the Planning and Development of Recreational Parks, said that several of the hiking trails have been closed for fear of the public’s safety.

“We’ve been working to identify those trails that could be reopened while keeping in mind patrons’ safety,” said Davis.

Davis said that within the next two weeks hydro mulching would be applied to the burned areas of the park. Hydro mulching will keep the “soil in place and will encourage native plants to come back once the rains come.”

Hydro mulching was chosen over the popular hydro-seeding to keep non-native plants from growing in the park.

Besides hydro mulching, Davis said the park plans to add large concrete barriers, called K-rails, to help protect some of the park’s facilities and attractions. Debris barriers will also be added to help direct the flow of debris and water away from hillsides and trails.

While some of the park’s hiking trails have been reopened, some park patrons differ about the reasons regarding the continuous closures of other trails, but agree that the public’s safety is a main concern.

“I think that the trails have been closed for a reason,” said Estefania Mares of L.A.

Mares said she felt that it was “a good idea to keep some of the trails closed to keep the public safe.”

Carlos Flores of Whittier said he felt that “the trails should be opened, but the safety of the public comes first.”

Flores said that because of the recent rain he is more cautious about which trails he runs on.

Several events have been held in the past months to help rebuild the park. One L.A. event was held at the Atwater Village’s LittleBird Gallery. The exhibit, called “Off They Flew: 100 Birds Benefiting Griffith Park,” included one hundred birds decorated by local and national artists. Proceeds from the exhibit benefited the Griffith Park Restoration Fund. The exhibit opened Sept. 8 and ran until Sept. 22.

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