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State Park Sees Regrowth After Near-Complete Wildfire Destruction

Creek Fire
A firefighter douses flames as they push towards homes during the Creek fire in the Cascadel Woods area of unincorporated Madera County, California on September 7, 2020
AFP via Getty Images)
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During last summer’s CZU Lightning Complex fires, nearly 97% of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Northern California burned.

The blaze turned the park’s cathedral-like redwoods black, and knocked out critical infrastructure. Some species were completely wiped out, including the Douglas Fir.

The sheer breadth of the devastation forced park officials to take a hard look at what the future of the park might be, and when — or if — it will reopen.

Adrienne Dunfee, a deputy manager at the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, says the answer is yes, but “it’s likely that landscapes may never look quite like they did before.”

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Many Big Basin Redwoods plants have already begun the regeneration process.

“Almost everything in this forest has some ability to come back after fire,” Dunfee said.

And most redwoods that burned have new growth.

“Redwoods are remarkably resilient,” Dunfee said. “They wouldn’t still be here if they weren’t. They’ve been in California, some people think, up to 20 million years.”

This summer, park leaders will meet with stakeholders and elected officials to discuss what’s next. Right now there is still no reopening date for Big Basin Redwoods; that will depend on the progress of park restoration efforts.