Public input sought on plan to reforest Cranston Fire burn scar

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MOUNTAIN CENTER (CNS) – The U.S. Forest Service announced today it intends to reforest an area consumed by an arson fire near Mountain Center and is seeking input from the public before proceeding.

The agency is seeking to plant on segments of the Cranston Fire footprint beginning in December or January, according to agency spokesman Zach Behrens.

About 740 acres of the 13,140-acre burn area is slated to be covered with hundreds of thousands of Coulter pine, Jeffrey pine and big-cone Douglas-fir trees, Behrens said. The reforestation would entail broadcasting seed over spots where the blaze burned most intensely.

“All planting will be conducted by hand or hand-carried mechanized equipment,” without use of heavy machinery, Behrens said.

“By planting these trees, it will not only address forest fire recovery, but reestablish cover for deer and other wildlife,” Behrens said.

Additional information about the project is available at fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57870.

Public comments about the reforestation plan can be directed to project manager Lance Woolley, who can be reached at lance.woolley@usda.gov or 909-382-2858.

Brandon N. McGlover, 34, admitted igniting the Cranston Fire on the afternoon of July 25, 2018, and was sentenced last year to 12 years, four months in state prison.

McGlover was arrested by California Highway Patrol officers on state Route 74 within a couple of hours of starting the fire, which passers-by witnessed.

The wildland blaze was only a few hundred acres at the time, but over the ensuing two weeks, it expanded into the San Jacinto Mountains.

A dozen homes and other structures were destroyed, and Idyllwild, Lake Hemet, Mountain Center and Pine Cove were evacuated at the height of the blaze, which more than 1,000 firefighters battled 24 hours a day until it was fully contained on Aug. 10, 2018.