VALYERMO – The Nature Center at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area was destroyed by the Bobcat Fire, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
“The area is still considered a hotspot and not safe. The facility will be closed until further notice,” states a news release from LA County Parks.
The news release continues: “LA County Parks had been closely monitoring the situation. [Last week], the animals from the sanctuary, including snakes, tortoises, Ruth the barn owl and Twig, a screech owl, were evacuated and the staff was relocated for everyone’s safety.”
Remarkably, the wildlife sanctuary structure, which is the staff’s office, appears to have survived, with several pinyon pines, junipers and manzanita trees surrounding the facility.
LA County Parks will assess the conditions of the rest of the structures and further damage when its safe to access the site.
“We are deeply saddened of the loss of the Nature Center at the Devil’s Punch Bowl Natural Area. It was truly a gem of education for our youth, local community and residents of the County,” said Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Norma Edith García-Gonzalez. ” The residents in the affected neighborhoods are in our thoughts, and we support the firefighters that continue to work tirelessly in the multiple fires.”
A total of 1,686 personnel are currently assigned to the Bobcat Fire, which erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area northeast of Mount Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. On Monday, Sept. 21, the Bobcat Fire was at 105,345 acres, with just 15% containment. Full containment of the fire is not expected until Oct. 30.
The Devil’s Punch Bowl Nature Center that burned opened in December of 1963. From school field trips to community education programs, LA County Parks has been offering access to museums, native wildlife-animal exhibits, astronomy with telescope presentations, geology sessions, and park history tours. LA County Parks also hosts the Junior Ranger Program for the local youth.
The Devil’s Punch Bowl Natural Area is located in the northern part of the San Gabriel Mountains, along with the Pearblossom, Juniper and Valyermo communities. It is one of the Department’s most popular facilities and a beloved natural area visited by over 130,000 park guests each year.
For more information on the Devil’s Punch Bowl Natural Area and updates, visit the LA County Parks’ website at parks.lacounty.gov.
[Information via news release from LA County Parks.]