County Goes for The Gold

Supervisors hit up feds for cleanup funds

It’s getting messy out there…

Los Angeles County is trying to recoup the nearly $30 million price tag for cleaning out debris catch basins protecting foothill neighborhoods from mudslides and flooding.

The devastating Station Fire last summer, coupled with heavy rains this winter, has caused an overabundance of debris to fill the dam-like flood control structures.

LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich has called for the federal government to reimburse the county for the cleanup costs, blaming the U.S. Forest Service for failing to fight last year’s Station Fire aggressively enough during its early stages when the blaze might have been contained. The late-summer wildfire grew to be the largest in the county’s history, torching some 250-square miles, nearly a third of the Angeles National Forest.

The catch basins are designed to catch large objects like boulders and debris while letting water pass through to controlled flood channels. When clogged, the basins can trigger flooding and mudslides, such as a slide Feb. 6 that damaged or destroyed nine homes in La Canada Flintridge.

In time, the cost of clearing storm debris near the Station Fire burn areas could run several times the $90 million spent fighting the fire itself.

County supervisors hope not to go broke in the process.

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