Hikers return after fire in Santa Monica Mountains

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VENTURA, Calif. (AP) – Ventura County hikers returned this week to the scorched hills and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains after fire tore through 14,000 acres of public park land.

Local hikers trudged along trails in an area scarred with soot-covered hillsides following the intense Springs Fire in May, the Ventura County Star reported.

Local hiker Aylssa Jenkins, 23, regularly hikes through Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park, and returned for the first time this week.

“I haven’t been coming. I kind of didn’t want to see it,” she told the newspaper Thursday. “I didn’t know how bad it was.”

She hopes it all grows back to be as beautiful as it once was.

The fire burned 24,000 acres in all, and state and national park staff will work to protect the area from invasive plants.

There are many areas swept clean of vegetation, which could cause mudslides during winter storms and force wildlife to struggle to find shelter and food.

The National Park Service was recently awarded $263,000 to help rehabilitate the area.

A smaller park managed by California State University Channel Islands remains closed as officials there try to address safety concerns, such as a string of old telephone poles that were damaged by flames.

The university was evacuated when smoke and fire overtook the lands near campus.

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