DAVENPORT (KPIX) – A small portion of the Big Basin Redwoods State Park reopened to the public on Saturday for the first time since the pandemic and CZU wildfire. The reopening was great news for everyone who has been waiting to recapture a little of this amazing land. Coming here will be a reminder of how much devastation the fire is causing and how quickly the land can recover.
“Lots of people hike in this area,” said park visitor Beth McKinnon. “You know, you want to visit some of the places you know and see how they are now.”
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This was the day that visitors could finally do a bit of it, at least in this one slice of the Big Basin.
“Rancho del Oso is the stretch of coast or coastline of the Big Basin Redwoods State Park,” said California State Parks interpreter Richard Fletcher.
“Often they are viewed as almost two different parks because we’re more of a coastal setting than the iconic sequoias you usually think of.”
Even in this small, reopened part of the park, many trails remain closed due to dangerous conditions, namely damaged trees. But there’s enough access to see firsthand what the fire did to this landscape on its way to the Pacific.
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“That’s one reason we’d love to reopen,” said Fletcher. “You can come and somehow be introduced to that scale. If you think about how far away the main part of the Big Basin is – and you can already see the burn scars here – this can help you understand the size of the fire. “
“It was huge,” said McKinnon. “What, 86,500 acres in Santa Cruz County alone? That’s a hell of a lot of hectares. “
In many places here the fire is still simmering underground. Outbreaks continue to occur occasionally. But in some places traces of the fire are already hiding behind everything that has grown back since then.
“If you didn’t look back at the huge hills and just look at this swamp path, there would be three things that would make you believe there was a fire,” said volunteer Jack Humphries.
“It’s amazing how high it already is,” says McKinnon of regrowth. “It’s high, the undergrowth is here. The flowers are blooming. Grasses grow. Some of the leaves are coming back on the trees that look dead. It is wonderful.”
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Park visit times are currently limited to Saturday and Sunday.