Virtual exhibits are now available through a partnership between California State Parks and CyArk, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the digital documentation of cultural heritage sites and architecture. Selected exhibits are below, and additional resources can be viewed by visiting ‘Resilience of the Redwoods.’
Presented by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
News and reporting of the Reimagining Big Basin project will be shown here.
There is no set timeline for Big Basin Redwoods State Park to reopen. California State Parks understands the need for visitors to access and recreate in this iconic park. The department and the Santa Cruz District are constantly balancing public safety, hazardous conditions, and infrastructure concerns with the need for access. It is important to remember that although an initial assessment of fire-related damage has been concluded for Big Basin, additional damage may occur as the region continues to experience active weather patterns, including periodic high winds events.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is currently closed to all vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian access to ensure the safety of the public. Hazardous conditions exist and a temporary closure order has been enacted to restrict public access. State Parks will continue to assess conditions and will evaluate ways in which it can provide limited access while maintaining the obligation of safeguarding the public and park employees.
More than 97% of Big Basin (17,792 of 18,224 acres) was within the fire perimeter of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. The fire burned with different intensity in different portions of the park, affecting ecosystems and habitats differently. State Park Environmental Scientists and research partners continue to consider the impact of the fire on different ecosystems. Nearly all of the buildings and infrastructure were damaged. This includes about 100 structures, all of the campgrounds and all trail networks.
Redwood trees are remarkably resilient, and the majority of scorched redwood trees in Big Basin have begun to re-sprout from buds at their bases and along their branches. Hardwood trees, including madrone, live oak, and tan oak are sprouting from their bases. Many of the ferns, shrubs and understory plants have started to re-grow.
Researchers will be assessing the impacts to species that depend on the old growth redwood forest. Most animals in the forest have ways to escape fire. Many flee the area or seek refuge in safe spots. Some species take advantage of the fire — such as woodpeckers returning to dead trees and deer browsing on new shoots. Other species will shift to unburned areas until their habitat re-grows.
The severity of a fire is influenced by many things, including topography, weather and vegetation. The CZU Lightning Complex Fire occurred during a week of record high temperatures and low humidity that dried the vegetation. Thousands of dry lightning strikes ignited hundreds of fires across California at the same time. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, several lightning fires combined to create the larger fire that swept into Big Basin.
The initial recovery phase is underway. This phase involves hazard tree removal, culvert replacement, facility and infrastructure assessment, and debris removal. State Parks has identified early high priority projects such as restoring access bridges and protecting road infrastructure and water sources. The department continues to gather information to inform planning decisions. Expect a transparent, robust planning process in the months ahead to include partners, stakeholders, local communities and the general public.
Planning and reconstructing will involve reimagining the park for climate resiliency and equitable public access for decades to come. Big Basin holds a special place in the hearts of millions of visitors. It is with this great responsibility that the reimagining process will incorporate transparency and public input to best serve the park in the future while retaining the heritage and memories of the past.
The forest is still healing from a fire of this magnitude and the planning process is still in its infancy. State Parks continues to assess funding needs for post wildfire recovery and will identify those needs and communicate them through the state budget process. There is no set timeline to complete the recovery, planning, and ultimately, reimagining of Big Basin.
State Parks continues to weigh public access in fire-impacted areas and will have a clearer picture of public use as the department progresses through the coming months. At this time, it is safe to say that there will be limited access into fire-affected parks prior to completion of reimagining the parks and/or facilities. State Parks continues to assess trail networks, trail signs, opportunities for camping, and safety protocols as it coordinates a responsible use plan for the public.
Thank you for loving Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The planning process for the park will rely on input from stakeholders and the public. Please follow along for opportunities to help plan for the future of this treasured park.