Please obey evacuation orders and stay safe
Through the months of a global pandemic and economic crisis, hitting our most vulnerable citizens the hardest, the seasons have continued to come and go and nature has had its final say. Now the fires have come to the redwood forest, and Californians are bracing for the additional challenges we will face together. Our forests, our parks, and the communities that live among them are at tremendous risk with reports of extensive damage to the places we love. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the fires and we stand in support and gratitude of those on the front lines working to contain the wildfires and help with local recovery efforts.
We have learned that fire has swept into some of California’s coast redwood parks and forests in Sonoma and Santa Cruz Counties. Most notably, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California’s oldest state park, has suffered heavy damage to its historic buildings with almost a total loss of its campground and visitor amenities. While I am cautiously relieved to say that everyone is safe and evacuations of the park were successful, the losses have been substantial and many are still in harm’s way.
We are working to determine the fires’ impact on the redwood forest, in the magnificent old growth of Big Basin, and in the many other redwood parks within the fires’ active areas, but the fire crews are rightly focused on containment and saving lives. A full damage assessment will come in due time. We are, of course, hoping with all our hearts that the ancient redwoods’ natural fire defenses have protected them. Redwood forests are fire adapted and have been a thriving, fire-resilient ecosystem for millions of years, so we have reason for hope. But nonetheless, with the forest as vulnerable and strained as it is today by climate change and 170 years of commercial harvest, that characteristic resilience is facing an unprecedented test.
Big Basin is one of many redwood parks currently closed due to the fires. We have a complete updated list of fire-related closures on our website.
For the latest fire conditions and evacuations, please visit fire.ca.gov. Even if you do not live in an area that’s immediately affected by the wildfires, power outages and poor air quality are still a problem. For the latest information about the air quality in your area and the actions you should take, visit airnow.gov.
Even as we process the heart-beaking losses at our beloved Big Basin, we are steeling ourselves for the long work ahead to restore and rebuild. We are well aware that we are just at the beginning of this fire season and that our resilience will be tested to the extreme. Our priority is to ensure that our families and loved ones are safe and that the communities most impacted by these fires have our support. Please stay safe, stay informed about dangers in your area, and when you can, find ways to help.