Dec 17, 2003

Fire on the Mountain

The deadly Southern California wildfires that stripped forest hillsides earlier this year have created threats to drinking water supplies for millions of people and to the already endangered California condor, according to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service.
The blazes across Southern California scorched nearly 750,000 acres, destroyed nearly 3,650 homes and killed 22 people.
About $9 million has been approved to rehabilitate burn areas in the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests, according to the Forest Service.
Helicopters and ground crews are spreading thousands of tons of rice straw, hoping to beat the winter rains and reduce the threat of ash and debris runoff into lakes used for drinking water.
The 91,000-acre Old Fire destroyed much of the forest around Silverwood Lake in San Bernardino National Forest. The lake supplies drinking water to millions of people.