A year ago, U.S. Forest Service crews planted nearly a million pine and fir trees in the San Gabriel Mountains to try to reclaim land scorched clean by the devastating Station fire.
Most of them shriveled up and died within months, as skeptics had predicted.
Foresters estimate that just a quarter of the 900,000 seedlings planted across 4,300 acres are thriving. That is far below the 75% to 80% survival rate the agency wanted.
The most ambitious recovery effort ever attempted in the Angeles National Forest began with a promise to plant up to 3 million seedlings over five years across 11,000 acres charred by the worst fire in Los Angeles County history.