Canyon dwellers confront deputies, Marines and Forest Service on plan to blow up dams that formed cherished swimming holes

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In a daybreak showdown Tuesday, more than a dozen Santiago Canyon residents and environmentalists gathered at blockade of about 20 Orange County sheriff’s deputies, some with police dogs.

They had come to the end of the winding mountain road to protest federal authorities’ plans to blow up five vintage stone-and-mortar dams.

At the root of the dispute are opposing views of residents’ rights to preserve a culture they say is as worthy of protection as the land they live on and the wildlife it supports.

Officials say the demolition conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Marine Corps aims to restore wildlife habitat and eliminate safety hazards along Santiago Creek in Orange County’s Santa Ana Mountains.


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