Smoke in the woods

 

THE SAVE OUR FOREST ASSOCIATION: A BRIEF HISTORY

Our local mountain environment of peaks, forests, lakes and streams is an exceptional treasure found in Southern California–an outstanding place to enjoy renewal, uplift, adventure and inspiration! It is a rare sanctuary of beauty and revitalization, a refuge from the common everyday world. The Save Our Forest Association’s (SOFA) credo is: Let’s celebrate these higher values and protect the unique qualities of this irreplaceable treasure.

SOFA was formed in 1988 by ordinary citizens outraged over the management of the public forest lands in the San Bernardino Mountains, and the exchange of valuable forest open space out of public ownership into private hands. SOFA’s efforts on behalf of the Grass Valley (Eagle Ridge, 160 acres), Strawberry Peak (242 acres) and the Valley of Enchantment (340 acre) parcels led to the preservation of the latter two parcels as public national forest. SOFA was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 not-for- profit public benefit corporation in 1992, with the express goal to preserve the mountain quality of life.

SOFA was the first organization on the mountain to support timber thinning of overstocked trees for greater forest health and fire safety as early as 1991 and also participated in the historic watershed council meeting in Lake Arrowhead in 1994. SOFA was instrumental in persuading the US Forest Service to remove destructive cattle grazing from Deep Creek, a famous wild trout stream. Upper Deep Creek, a 301-acre parcel slated for development, became part of the national forest in 1996 after a three-year effort by the Deep Creek Open Space Coalition and SOFA. Located on this parcel is the steep gorge known as the “Narrows,” long favored by rock climbers and as a practice site for many Search and Rescue teams in Southern California.

SOFA was the leading force in creating the Land Ownership Adjustment Oversight Committee which for over a decade reviewed all land exchange proposals in the Mountain Top Ranger District of our national forest. Our efforts with other environmental groups resulted in a successful legal challenge, settled in 2003, against the State of CA over the detrimental impacts of a Lake Silverwood construction project that destroyed the local fishery.

Years of hard work by SOFA was rewarded in the fall of 2008 when the State Appellate Court ruled that the County of San Bernardino violated state law in approving the controversial Hawarden (Blue Ridge) development. It was recognized as a major victory for greater accountability in local government, especially for mountain quality of life issues, fire safety, water supply, and forest integrity.

Recently SOFA, in collaboration with the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and the Center for Biological Diversity was able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the Royal Rangers Adventure Camp proponents to sell their property. The San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust was able to acquire and preserve this property after the camp project was repeatedly rejected by the local communities.

SOFA monitors, comments on, and provides assistance to local residents and groups who have concerns on any large development projects which affect the long term health and vitality of the forest ecosystem in the San Bernardino Mountains.

SOFA supports our local Chambers of Commerce in enhancing our mountain community through sensible economic development, tourism, and positive governmental relations. We share the core values of preserving the quality of life; integrity and hard work; excellence in reputation and productivity as a team. If you care about these issues, we urge you to add your support to this highly dedicated group of grassroots activists and volunteer your time, energy and expertise to help maintain our irreplaceable forest.