Elastic Redwood Forest Light of Hope for California

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California (AP) —Eight months after a thunder siege ignited more than 650 wildfires in Northern California, the state’s oldest park — almost completely burned. , What nature is most good at, that is, recovering.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is closed, but during a backcountry guided tour earlier this week, Chartreuse sprouts sprouted on blackened Redwood branches and trunks. The scorched landscape was dotted with bright yellow bush poppies, white violets, and star lilies. The hillsides of the purple California lilac shrubs fixed nitrogen in the soil. Then, a new Knobcone pine tree, which requires a temperature of 350 degrees or higher to open the cone and drop seeds, was germinating.

“I think nature is finding a way,” said Joan Kerbabaz, a senior environmental scientist at the state park.

Scientists, park advocates, and reserves say the resilience of Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the cause of hope far beyond the Santa Cruz Mountains. In California, COVID-19 infections and mortality have declined rapidly as widespread vaccine deployments appear to be around the corner. And in a burnt community that lost their homes in a fire last year, construction vehicles swarmed on narrow roads, laying a new foundation.

At first glance, Big Basin Redwood State Park is messed up. The entire 18,000 acres (7,284 hectares) of park, with approximately 1 million visitors annually, burned violently 24 hours a day, still smoldering in some places, causing nearly $ 200 million in damage.

Over 100 structures have been destroyed, including historic park headquarters, tent huts, picnic tables, observation decks, and sidewalk railings. Dozens of bridges are gone and logs are scattered on the forest floor. In some places, smoldering underground root spheres are still smoking, leaving dangerous underground ash holes, Kerbavaz said.

Since August last year, damage assessors have been trying to identify toxins, hazards and other wastes that need to be removed. The park caught fire when AP correspondents and photographers hiked the famous Redwood Trail and saw most of the ancient Redwood, one of the tallest creatures on the planet, about 2,000 years ago. It looks like it’s not much different from a week later. , Survived.

The next 8-10 months will be spent cleaning parks, transporting burnt car hulls, rubble from collapsed roads and bridges, and transporting damaged campsite structures. According to the district foreman of the State Park District, Chris Splorer, it can take up to a year for the general public to have secure access to trails across the small coastal areas of Rancho del Oso.

But no one should expect the lost to be rebuilt straight, he said.

“Everything is on the table,” Spohrer said. “We need to set expectations for the public that when they come back, it won’t look the same.”

When Big Basin opened in 1902, it marked the origin of Redwood’s forest conservation. However, the way we think about buildings, layouts and land use has changed over the course of 119 years.

“Think of it as re-imaging and re-concept, not restructuring,” says Spohrer.

Conservation activists and advocates support a widely open planning process. They also encourage swift action as state and federal authorities are currently funding wildfire recovery efforts and new infrastructure projects.

“I don’t want to suggest that we think fire is a good thing, but it definitely wiped the slate clean, which is not seen in other existing parks,” said executive Sarah Bath. Said. In 1900, Secretary-General of the Semperbilence Foundation, who led an effort to protect the 6-square-mile (15.5-square-kilometer) primeval forest now in the heart of Big Basin.

According to Bath, the state is now able to consider ways to make it more equitable and accessible to people who have never visited it in the past.

“When Big Basin was founded, it was a beacon for the state park system,” she said. “In this fire and rebirth, you have another chance.”

Sam Hodder, chairman of the Save the Redwoods League, said that as forests recover rapidly, the general public can be inspired.

“The tree itself talks about resilience and recovery, and the wider California landscape,” he said. “This is a difficult and tragic situation, but it gives us the opportunity to consider doing things in another way, considering the resilience of the climate and admitting that the fire is an inevitable inhabitant of this landscape. Will do it. “

Redwood is designed to be fire resistant. In primeval forests, most trees have burn scars that date back hundreds of years.

On August 19, 2020, when the trees ignited and the animals fled, the only sounds in the Big Basin were the roar of a wildfire and the thunder when a big tree fell.

Recently, the tops of trees are full of bird calls. And on the forest floor, there are lizards, lizards, and salamanders that were buried deep in the rotting organic matter when the rolling fire returned to the stream.