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After Devastating Wildfires, California’s Parks Hope To Rebuild And Reimagine The Future

Coastal Redwood trees stand at Muir Woods National Monument on August 20, 2013 in Mill Valley, California.
Coastal Redwood trees stand at Muir Woods National Monument on August 20, 2013 in Mill Valley, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Last summer wildfires ravaged Big Basin Redwoods State Park so devastatingly that in just one day, 97% of it burned, turning its cathedral-like redwoods to black and wiping out critical infrastructure.

Now park officials are hoping to rebuild and reopen parts of the park. And although the devastation is immense, it has also provided a unique opportunity for officials to reimagine what the park might look like going forward. Though many species have been wiped out completely (don’t expect to see any Douglas Firs, for example), others, like the eponymous redwoods, are already showing signs of regrowth. Officials say their charred trunks could be an opportunity to educate visitors on wildfires and forest management. This summer, park leaders will convene stakeholders to weigh in not only on ecological education, but the indigenous history of the land, which has not previously been a prominent feature of the park’s educational materials. It will take years to eventually reopen the park, but parks management are emphasizing that when visitors are eventually allowed back, they will encounter a very different park from the one they last met. 

Today on AirTalk, we’re learning more about how California parks are rebuilding after devastating wildfires. Questions? Comment below or give us a call at 866-893-5722.


Julie Cart, environment reporter at Cal Matters and author of the recent piece, “Battered, burned but alive: Time will heal park’s wounds, but it needs big money, too”; she tweets @julie_cart

Joanne Kerbavaz, senior environmental scientist at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Adrienne Dunfee, deputy monument manager at the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument; she was agency administrator representative on last year’s Bobcat Fire