Visioning Process

Post-Fire Recovery and Reestablishment of Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire devastated Big Basin’s resources and infrastructure, creating a “re-set” for the park’s ecosystem. While new growth began to emerge in the months following the fire, regeneration of the park’s ecosystem and reestablishment of public access to the Big Basin will be a long-term process. The process for reestablishing the park includes immediate recovery efforts that are underway, reimagining efforts to renew the vision for the park’s future, and long-term planning and implementation projects. The long-term timeline for these efforts is outlined below:

The Reimagining Big Basin Project

The Reimagining Big Basin project will engage the public and stakeholders in defining a renewed vision for Big Basin. Although the Big Basin General Plan was updated in 2013 and defines a vision for the park based on significant stakeholder and public input, the devastation caused by the CZU Complex Fire in 2020 has 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 will help 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 seek input regarding the vision for the park’s future. This approximately one-year planning process will culminate with a planning document that will confirm a vision for the future of Big Basin and guide the efforts necessary for reopening the park to the public. For more information about opportunities to participate, click here.

Vision Ideas

Big Basin will continue to be the “seed bank” for forward-thinking conservation and management of California’s redwood forests. By providing access to nature, inclusive storytelling, educational and stewardship opportunities, and recreation for people of all abilities, the renewed park will weld connections between California’s landscapes and its diverse communities that fortify both public and ecosystem health. Through strategic and adaptive management that continues to evolve, and when necessary, pivot, based on scientific and indigenous knowledge, the park will continue to be one of California’s most iconic natural landmarks, as well as serve as a model for California’s resilient and inclusive parks.

Guiding Principles

Land Management

Land management practices will be guided by natural ecological processes and indigenous practices and informed by current science to create landscape that will be resilient in the face of future climate change. Management planning will be nimble, quickly adapting to growing knowledge and changing conditions.

Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous knowledge will be sought after and embraced as a critical foundation to park planning, design, and management. Tribal perspectives will be incorporated into storytelling and interpretation to ensure a broad temporal perspective and deep cultural and ecological understanding. Those involved in planning, land management, park design, and park programs will actively seek input from members of local and regional tribal representatives.

Aesthetic, Reverent Design

Big Basin’s natural character will be the chief informant of design decisions, with all built elements working together to consistently frame and complement the natural setting. The historic architectural character will be honored, yet resilience and sustainability will be paramount for creating a space that celebrates Big Basin as the iconic first California State Park and facilitates stewardship and enjoyment by future generations.

Leadership in Resilient Park Planning

As California’s first state park, Big Basin served as a model for conservation and recreation across the state. This reestablishment effort will be the model for the future State Parks System and will inspire staff and the public to imagine a robust and resilient future for all parks, and to embrace stewardship with humility and flexibility. Planning and design will emphasize the importance of the forest lifecycle and ongoing resource management, especially as we face climate change, helping to guide expectations of the park experience. The renewed Big Basin State Park will represent the State of California’s leadership in planning in the face of climate challenges.

Connectivity and Coordination

The CZU Lightning Complex fire demonstrated the permeability of the park boundaries and the importance of internal and external connections between land managers, agencies, and the public. Reestablishing Big Basin as a safe, resilient, and accessible Park will necessitate establishing a physical framework of roads and trails that connects Park with surrounding lands and coordinating with park neighbors and managers across the region and landscape to resilient and effective relationships.

Equitable, Diverse, and Evocative Visitor Experiences

Visitors will be provided a diversity of safe and welcoming opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities to experience and be inspired by the park’s distinct resources. Facilities and high-use areas will be located away from sensitive resources and sited to facilitate sustainable forest stewardship and protect opportunities for evocative nature experiences. Facilities for staff residing within and near the park will be sited and designed to support staff’s critical role in operations and safety, as well as to foster a sense of community. Access and circulation will be managed to direct visitor flow, reduce congestion, and enhance visitors’ park experience.

Creating New Memories and New Stewards

Big Basin was the site of family gatherings, adventures, and connections to nature for generations of visitors. While we will all need to get used to a change in landscape and facilities, Big Basin will continue to provide unparalleled natural experiences for all Californians with an expanded commitment to equitable access and inclusivity in this next phase of park life. The history of the park as a public asset will continue to be highlighted as the next generation of park visitors, stewards, and advocates are introduced to the Big Basin Redwoods community and are provided opportunities to create new memories.


Transparent and consistent communication will educate and inform the public, stakeholders, and partners of the park’s conditions and recovery. The reestablishment process will allow for continued dialogue with the public and foster support for the park and the special location it protects. Expectations for re-opening and for the future experiences the park will offer will be guided by clear, honest, and engaging communication.

Advisory and Steering Committees

Two committees have been formed to ensure an inclusive and informed planning process for Reimagining Big Basin Redwoods, including an Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from stakeholder organizations and interest groups and a Steering Committee comprised of California State Parks’ staff. Members for both committees were appointed by the California State Parks’ executive leadership. 


Advisory Committee Members

Teresa Baker, Founder, In Solidarity Project                         

Sara Barth, Executive Director, Sempervirens Fund          

José G. González, Founder, Latino Outdoors        

Bonny Hawley, Executive Director, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks                        

Sam Hodder, President and CEO, Save the Redwoods League                      

Brenda Holmes, Executive Director, Mountain Parks Foundation                

Kindley Walsh Lawlor, President and CEO, Parks California                            

Valentin Lopez, Tribal Chairman, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band                         

Charlene Nijmeh, Tribal Chairwoman, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area


Steering Committee Members (California State Parks staff)

Matt Bellah, Central Division

Brian Dewey, Facilities and Development

Scott Elliott, Law Enforcement and Emergency Services

Nathan Harper, Facilities District Management

Leslie Hartzell, Cultural Resources

Matthew Millspaugh, Partnership

Alex Stehl, Strategic Planning and Recreation Services

Lori Turner, District Facilities Management

Stacey Yankee, Interpretation and Education


Informational and educational resources will be provided here during the planning process.