Vision Statement and Summary

Big Basin Redwoods State Park endures as one of California’s most iconic natural landscapes. In the aftermath of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire that burned much of the park and destroyed nearly all facilities, the long-standing commitment to protecting old growth and stewarding natural lands will be reinvigorated. Park stewardship, based on scientific and Indigenous knowledge, will foster forest health and create opportunities to connect visitors of all backgrounds and abilities with redwood forests for generations to come. The park will be welcoming and accessible, offering new transportation options, diverse recreational opportunities, and inclusive storytelling that will evolve as the forests recover. While ecosystem health and quality visitor experiences may be defined differently over time, they will always serve as the measures for Big Basin’s success.

Vision Summary

The Reimagining Big Basin project included engaging the public and stakeholders in defining a renewed vision for Big Basin. The devastation caused by the CZU Complex Fire in 2020 prompted the need to revisit this shared vision with consideration to resources and infrastructure conditions as well as to the changing climatic conditions. The Reimagining Big Basin project helped to reconnect stakeholders and the public with the park by providing updates on the park’s conditions and recovery efforts, providing informational and educational resources regarding the challenges and opportunities of reestablishment, and seeking input regarding the vision for the park’s future. This approximately one-year planning process has culminated with the Vision Summary document that confirms a vision for the future of Big Basin and guide the planning efforts necessary to reestablish full recreational access to the park to the public.

Guiding Principles

The Reimagining Big Basin Vision summary resulted in the development of eight guiding principles to guide all future planning at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

They are presented in the Vision Summary, and also described below:

The health of old growth redwoods and sensitive resources will be the primary consideration for park reestablishment and ongoing planning, design, and management. The forest lifecycle and resource management needs, especially as we face changing climatic conditions, will inform planning and design decisions, helping to guide expectations of the park experience. Facilities and high-use areas will be located away from old growth redwoods and other sensitive resources and sited to facilitate sustainable forest stewardship and protect opportunities for provocative nature experiences.

Big Basin will provide a diversity of safe and welcoming opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities to experience and be inspired by the park’s old growth redwoods and other outstanding resources. Big Basin was the site of family gatherings, adventures, and connections to nature for generations of visitors. Big Basin will continue to provide unique natural experiences for all Californians with an expanded commitment to equitable access and inclusive storytelling. Facilities will be designed and managed to support a broad range of uses, including a variety of campground types. People have strong memories of their time at Big Basin prior to the CZU Fire and the park will continue to be a landscape for memory making with enhanced facilities making it more accessible to more people.
Reestablishing Big Basin as a safe, resilient, and accessible park will necessitate establishing a multi-modal transportation system that reduces congestion and improves non-automotive access to old growth redwoods and destinations. Strategies will include a shuttle system that provides access from staging areas located at the periphery of the park to key park destinations, as well as improved pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian trails that connect to park destinations as well as more remote experiences. Forest health, visitor experience, and visitor safety will inform access and circulation at Big Basin.
Land stewardship practices will be guided by natural ecological processes and Indigenous practices and informed by current science to create landscapes that will be resilient in the face of future climate change. Management planning will focus on promoting forest and ecosystem health for future generations. Volunteers and stewardship corps, and the greater “Park Family” will play an important role in stewardship, actively working to promote forest health, improve visitor experience, and engage with visitors to foster curiosity and appreciation for the redwoods.
Formal consultation with Tribal Nations and cultural practitioners will inform and guide planning, land management, park design, and park programs. California Native American knowledge will be foundational. Indigenous perspectives will be foregrounded in tribal resource management as well as interpretation and educational programs.
The CZU Lightning Complex Fire demonstrated the importance of planning at the landscape scale. Opportunities to enhance both ecosystem connectivity and visitor experiences regionally will inform reestablishment and ongoing management. Coordination with adjacent landowners and managers and strategic acquisitions will strengthen wildlife corridors and habitat connectivity, trail connectivity, and the diversity of recreational experiences in the region.
Natural and historic character will be honored in built elements, yet resilience and sustainability will be paramount in all planning and design decisions. Built elements will work together to consistently frame and complement the natural setting and create a space and unique aesthetic that celebrates Big Basin as the iconic first California State Park while inspiring staff and the public to imagine a robust and resilient future for all parks. The facilities will work together to aesthetically complement the forest setting.
Coordination with park neighbors and managers across the region and landscape will create opportunities to enhance landscape connectivity. Consistent communication from State Parks on the park’s conditions and recovery will educate and inform the public, stakeholders, and partners. The reestablishment process will allow for continued dialogue with the public, engage previously underrepresented groups, and foster support for the park and the special location it protects. Expectations for re-opening and for future experiences will be guided by clear, honest, and engaging communication.

Compendium of Community Engagement

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Reimagining Big Basin visioning process! Completed outreach and engagement efforts as of July 2022 are described in the Compendium of Community Engagement below, and there will be more opportunities to participate in future planning efforts.