Rangers who work in the Angeles National Forest and the volunteers who support them deserve a tip of the hat for opening a huge swath of forest this weekend, less than three years after the Station fire ravaged the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains.

More than 41,000 acres below the Big Tujunga Dam, a huge area upslope from La Cañada Flintridge, are open again for hiking and camping.

But much cleanup work remains, as 46,000 acres are still off limits.

Angeles National Forest Supervisor Thomas Contreras sounded plaintive in his talk with conservationists and volunteers last week at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, both asking for more volunteer support and admitting the tasks remaining are stretching staff resources.

Crews led by knowledgeable individuals are required to restore trails and identify hazards or sensitive wildlife areas in the places that remain off limits, including the Arroyo Seco canyon. To find out more about volunteering, visit www.fs.usda.gov/angeles.

Meanwhile, Forest Service officials say they plan to open more trails and camping areas this summer, a sure sign that with their work, the help of volunteers and the land beginning to heal itself, recovery from the devastating fire is entering a new phase.