BOULDER CREEK (CBS SF) — There was a time when San Francisco Bay Area residents would flock to Big Basin Redwoods State Park for an afternoon break from the confines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Then came the flames of the massive CZU Lightning Complex fire. As Cal Fire crews have surveyed the park, they have been confronted with scenes of devastation.
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“A lot of (mop-up) work (being done) in the state park, Big Basin,” said Cal Fire CZU Operations Chief Mark Bruton Tuesday morning. “A lot of destruction in there. The park is going to have to do a big plan as far as not only rendering it safe, but getting it back on its feet. It’s going to be a long, long process based on the conditions and the destruction.”
Big Basin is California’s oldest state park and contains a grove of old-growth redwoods, some of them 2,000 years old and among the tallest living things on Earth
While most of the ancient redwoods have withstood the blaze, many were also damaged. The historic park headquarters is gone, as are many small buildings and campground infrastructure that went up in flames. Some damaged redwoods have toppled across roadways.
Laura McLendon, conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund, an environmental group dedicated to the protection of redwoods and their habitats, has been heartened by the news that many of the majestic trees have survived.READ MORE: Wind-Whipped Wildfire in Big Sur Shuts Hwy 1, Forces Evacuations
“That is such good news, I can’t tell you how much that gives me peace of mind,” McLendon, conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund, an environmental group dedicated to the protection of redwoods and their habitats, told the Associated Press last week.
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Redwood forests are meant to burn, she said, so reports that the state park was “gone” were misleading.
“But the forest is not gone,” McLendon said. “It will regrow. Every old-growth redwood I’ve ever seen, in Big Basin and other parks, has fire scars on them. They’ve been through multiple fires, possibly worse than this.”
When Big Basin opened in 1902 it marked the genesis of redwood conservation. The park now receives about 250,000 visitors a year from around the world, and millions have walked the Redwood Trail.
While there is a great deal of work to be done rebuilding campgrounds, clearing trails and managing damaged madrones, oaks and firs, Big Basin will recover, McLendon said.
“The forest, in some ways, is resetting,” she said.
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© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.