Undeterred by poison oak, rattlesnakes, hot sun and aching muscles, California Conservation Corps workers have added three miles of new trails to rustic O'Melveny Park in Granada Hills.
The corps' work brings the number of hiking and equestrian trails and roads to 13 miles, completing the trail system, said Don Mullally, the park's senior gardener.
"Our concept is, we don't want to ruin the park with too many trails and roads," Mullally said.
One trail, the Grasslands, zigzags over hillsides, through canyons filled with stands of California black walnut, Western sycamore, coast live oaks, flowering ash and blue elderberry, Mullally said. Another, the Highline Trail, is a steep series of switchbacks to a high ridge overlooking the creek.
The 702-acre city park, second in size only to Griffith Park, is one of the city's few wilderness parks.
For three weeks, crews from the Conservation Corps camp on Oat Mountain in Chatsworth have been working in the park, said their supervisor, Harvey Overland.
Wearing khaki shirts and brown pants, and wielding hoes and rakes, corps members cut from half a mile to a mile of trail per day, depending on the size of the crew, the difficulty of the terrain and the type of brush being cleared, Mullally said.
Open to men and women from 18 to 23 years old, the Conservation Corps has 17 centers in the state.
Corps members, many of whom have had little education and have had trouble finding and keeping jobs, receive the minimum wage of $3.35 an hour to fight fires, plant trees, clear brush and perform other chores. At night, many receive leadership training or work toward general equivalency degrees.
Mullally gives the workers lessons on ecology and plant life.