Several of the inmates and staff who escaped the fury of the Station Wildlands Fire that burned down Mount Gleason Conservation Camp on August 30, 2009, recently did restoration work to make sure Los Angeles County residents don’t face flooding woes.
On March 1, crews from Holton Conservation Camp were working in the community of La Canada. They assisted the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to ensure debris swept down the slopes denuded by the fire last fall didn’t create flood hazards.
That day, the crews cleared a debris basin, located in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest. Due to the lack of vegetation on the hillsides caused by the Station Fire, recent rain storms and floods filled the basins with debris.
This particular debris basin was located directly behind a residential area and inaccessible to heavy equipment. The work performed by the Holton Conservation Camp crew was essential to the county, which didn’t have the equipment or manpower to handle the task.
“Many of the inmate firefighters working on this assignment were the same inmates housed at Mount Gleason Conservation Camp when flames more than 100 feet high swept through destroying every building at the camp,” said CDCR Captain Sharon Henry, a survivor of that same event.
“Although these inmates were directly imperiled by the Station Fire, not one ever requested removal from Camp or refused to participate in the mop-up process,” Henry added.
During this cleanup, both Correctional Officers Gabriel Romo and Herman Valdivia were assigned to provide custody coverage of the crews. Both Officers Romo and Valdivia were also at Mount Gleason at the time it was destroyed.
“The work ethic and personal pride in performance by staff and inmates has made the Conservation Camp Program the single most cost effective program the State of California operates,” said Captain Henry.
Projects such as this completed by inmates saves an estimated $60 million per year as opposed to contracting the work out to private vendors. For more information on the CDCR Conservation Camps program, visit the CDCR website at https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/