ARCADIA – If you’re in elementary, middle or high school, the United States Forest Service wants you. That’s the upshot of a U.S. Forest Service Recreation Forum held Monday at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia, one of six forums being held across the nation this month and next. The Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and the American Recreation Coalition are supporting a grant program called “More Kids in the Woods,” aimed at increasing the number of youths using the outdoors and taking part in nature- based activities. Jody Noiron, forest supervisor for the Angeles National Forest, said the ANF, Los Padres, Cleveland and San Bernardino national forests are all submitting proposals to get federal grant money to start kids-in-the- woods programs. “So what the future is going to hold in terms of that specific grant program, I don’t know,” she said. “Because it’s a competitive thing and the proposals go back to Washington, D.C., and they’re evaluated, and a decision is made on which proposals to fund. The pot is $50,000 and we expect a decision by June.” Russ Guiney, director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, said winning a grant would mean more information available about the program and more kids able to attend it. Joshua Acevedo, 19, of La Puente, who attends Pasadena City College, and Jake Salzarulo, 18, of Castaic, said they think “More Kids in the Woods” is a good idea. They attended the forum and were part of a youth panel that discussed the program. “It’s a great idea to get kids outdoors,” Acevedo said. “It’s a great chance for kids to … explore the world and the different qualities nature has to offer.” But not everyone things “More Kids in the Woods” is a good idea. Robert and Sonja Bartsch of Pasadena, longtime fighters against the fee-based Adventure Passes, said the program is the work of what they term “the American recreation industry,” which they say wants to “indoctrinate young people as new customers on our public lands. “Insidiously since the early 1990s recreation corporations have pushed for more fees and more partnerships with government agencies so they can take over the National Forest camp grounds and develop commercial offerings on our public land,” the couple wrote in a letter this week. [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4475 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!