As reported last week, local non-profit Friends of the San Gabriels mounted fundraising efforts to save Sturtevant Camp, one of the only preserved reminders of the Golden Age of Hiking in the Angeles National Forest. Although donations from a fundraiser got them almost $3000 closer to their goal, the organization reached a stumbling block with U.S. Forest Service bureaucracy.
On January 27, Friends of the San Gabriels CEO Deb Burgess attended a meeting with the U.S. Forest Service, during which she expected that the impending purchase of Sturtevant Camp would be approved. However, according to Acting Forest Supervisor Daniel Lovato, Friends of the San Gabriels still needs to submit a formal proposal to the USFS to request a permit.
"At that time," Lovato stated, "we will use guidelines to either accept or deny their proposal."
If the Forest Service accepts the Friends of the San Gabriels' proposal, the purchase is still not a done deal: as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the USFS will need to complete an environmental analysis of the site before a permit can be issued.
Since there isn't an official landmark designation of Sturtevant Camp, the site's historical significance and structural conditions also need to be evaluated by the Forest Service's Heritage Program, which is responsible for historic preservation in national forests.
"The historic significance of the camp is quite important to us just as it is with many," Lovato said. "However we have a process and applicable laws that need to be utilized to issue a permit to any owner of the facilities."
According to Burgess, Forest Service representatives also expressed concerns over the appropriateness of this type of purchase of Forest Service land, as well as the ability of Friends of the San Gabriels to provide continued maintenance of the camp over the duration of the 20-year lease.
The entire process is likely to delay the purchase of the camp beyond the Friends' original expectations, but as of now, the exact timing is unclear.