Printer Friendly

The National Children's Forest.

Risen from the ashes of a fast-burning wildfire, this little enclave near L.A. is a monument to idealism young and old.

In the San Bernardino National Forest 85 miles east of Los Angeles is a patch of forest that died in flames 23 years ago, was replanted and brought back to life, and has been cared for ever since by boys and girls.

A 20-acre enclave perched on a 7,000-foot saddle of Keller Peak, the National Children's Forest is visited mostly by children on school or summer-camp field trips. There they learn that this forest now grows just one generation after its predecessor was consumed by one of the fastest-moving fires in history. The Bear Fire, erupting from an illegal open campfire on November 13, 1970, burned 28,000 acres in eight hours--that's an acre a second.

George Hesemann fought that fire as a summer ranger and has been its caretaker ever since. He selected the site for the Children's Forest in 1971 and manages it as founder and executive director of the Rim of the World Interpretive Association, based at Lake Arrowhead, California. Hesemann, now 67 and a retired science teacher, does all this as a volunteer. His all-volunteer group cares for the Forest--and operates Heaps Peak Arboretum and staffs two fire lookouts--with the U.S. Forest Service.

Hundreds of Boy and Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls--mobilized by Hunt-Wesson Foods and the Forest Service--spent two years establishing the Children's Forest, planting trees and grasses and building trail. "Some of the kids were crippled, some had to be carried in, some suffered from terminal illness," Hesemann recalls. "But they were thrilled to play a part in restoring the forest."

The work included wheelbarrowing in 197 tons of material to build a trail for those in wheelchairs and for the blind. Standard and braille signs describe the flora and fauna along the trail. "Listen to the voices of the meadows," says the sign at one stop, where you hear the pleasant cacophony of mountain chickadees, bluebirds, towhees, and other birds.

Two similar forests have been established in other parts of the country: the Eastern Children's Forest near Covington, Virginia, in the George Washington National Forest, and the Missouri Children's Forest in the Mark Twain National Forest near Willow Springs.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Burning Issues
Author:Hillinger, Charles
Publication:American Forests
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:380
Previous Article:Five hot tips for homeowners on the edge.
Next Article:The great anti-fire campaign.
Topics:


Related Articles
Yellowstone and the let-burn policy; the fires that hopscotched across half the Park last summer also fueled a debate that may change the way we...
Fire gods and federal policy.
The Boise quickstep.
Smokey's revenge.
The great anti-fire campaign.
Burninq Issues.
STAMPING OUT HIGH COSTS OF FIGHTING FIRE : PLANNED BURNS MAY CUT FUTURE RISKS OF BLAZES.
BURN POLICY FOR FORESTS COMING BACK : DECISION FOLLOWS RECENT COSTLY FIRES.
Deciphering Bitterroot. (News from the World of Trees).
We must act quickly to reforest Biscuit burn.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters