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After CZU fire scorched Santa Cruz Mountains, some parks reopen, others remain closed

After CZU fire scorched Santa Cruz Mountains, some parks reopen, others remain closed 2020-10-14Leave a comment

electrical bike After CZU fireplace scorched Santa Cruz Mountains, some parks reopen, others stay closed

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On the headwaters of Pescadero Creek, the CZU Lighting Advanced Hearth burned what was as soon as a sea of conifers alongside the southern slopes to a crisp, forsaking the middle poles of tree skeletons and a layer of ash.

But simply two miles away, on the Heritage Grove of old-growth redwoods, the forest stays untouched and pristine. The park stays closed to the general public, with close by exercise by fireplace restoration crews.

Hearth specialists and park rangers are discovering a lot of the area surrounding the Santa Cruz Mountains resembles this matrix: adjoining parks, some scorched, others untouched.

“The fireplace burned about half of Pescadero Creek (County Park),” stated Carla Schoof, communications supervisor for San Mateo County Parks. “The old-growth loop? Not burned.”

Within the aftermath of the 86,000-acre CZU fires, rangers have reopened Portola Redwoods, Butano and Citadel Rock state parks, together with campgrounds at Portola and Butano.

But the close by Pescadero Creek County Park Advanced, which incorporates Memorial, Sam McDonald and Pescadero Creek county parks, will stay closed, seemingly into winter, Schoof stated. To the south, Huge Basin Redwoods State Park, the place fires devoured the park’s infrastructure at headquarters, will stay closed for not less than a 12 months, state park officers stated.

The campground at Memorial, the parking space at Sam McDonald and the Heritage Grove all emerged unscathed. Regardless, the parks will stay closed attributable to excessive exercise from fireplace restoration crews and their industrial autos, Schoof stated.

As fall takes maintain, crews are figuring out and eradicating hazard timber, and finding burned-out root balls that might nonetheless be smoldering underground, Schoof stated. Additionally they hope to stabilize slopes earlier than winter rains trigger erosion and pour ash and silt into Pescadero Creek, a spawning habitat for uncommon steelhead trout. The specter of mudslides throughout the area looms massive.

“The largest concern proper now’s erosion into Pescadero Creek,” Schoof stated. “Heavy rainfall might current us with one other battle.”

All through the burn, Schoof stated, you possibly can see craters crammed with ash. Some fireplace specialists name stump craters the “Venus Flytraps” of a fireplace zone. That is the place the stumps of timber burned into their root methods. In some circumstances, the ash floor can look flat, strong and a secure place to stroll, however a hiker trespassing into burn zones might fall by means of this ash floor right into a stump crater and get severely burned by deep, smoldering roots.

San Mateo County Parks Director Nicholas Calderone stated there is no such thing as a projected date to reopen for parks within the Pescadero Creek Advanced,

“A wildfire of this magnitude has not occurred in San Mateo County Parks within the 96-year historical past of the division,” he and Schoof stated in a posted assertion.

Close by state parks that adjoin the Pescadero Creek Advanced are reopening in numerous levels.

Portola Redwoods was largely untouched. The Outdated Haul Highway, a well-liked mountain bike route that firefighters used as a staging space throughout the fires, borders and feeds as much as Portola Redwoods in a single path, and thru Pescadero Creek and to Memorial within the different. The street was chewed up by fireplace equipment, Schoof stated, and can want restoration.

At each Portola and Butano, drive-in websites for automobile tenting had been re-opened with circumstances, State Parks stated. All campsite websites can be found by reservation solely at ReserveCalifornia.com, that’s, no walk-ins allowed. In deference to COVID-19, group websites stay closed and no teams over 6 to eight individuals, relying on the dimensions of the campsite, will likely be allowed, State Parks stated.

At Portola, the bridge on the Coyote Ridge Path was broken, rangers stated, and has been closed. All different trails within the park are open, however routes that join into adjoining Pescadero Creek County park are off limits.

The CZU Lightning Advanced Fires had been ignited by the uncommon lightning storm in August, the place two separate fires, one in Huge Basin Redwoods and one other on the outskirts of Butano joined, and burned with out containment for days.

Tom Stienstra is The Chronicle’s out of doors author. E mail: tstienstra@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @StienstraTom.

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