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In pics | Resilient redwood forest a beacon of hope for California

Eight months after a lightning siege ignited more than 650 wildfires in Northern California, the state’s oldest park — Big Basin Redwoods State Park - which was almost entirely ablaze — is doing what nature does best: recovering.

April 26, 2021 / 08:44 PM IST
Eight months after a lightning siege ignited more than 650 wildfires in Northern California, the state’s oldest park — which was almost entirely ablaze — is doing what nature does best: recovering. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is closed, but during a backcountry guided tour earlier this week, clusters of chartreuse shoots were budding on blackened redwood branches and trunks. (Image: AP)
Eight months after a lightning siege ignited more than 650 wildfires in Northern California, the state’s oldest park — Big Basin Redwoods State Park - which was almost entirely ablaze — is doing what nature does best: recovering. The state park is closed now, but during a backcountry guided tour earlier this week, clusters of chartreuse shoots were budding on blackened redwood branches and trunks. (Image: AP)
Bright yellow bush poppies, white violets and star lilies dotted the scorched landscape. Hillsides of purple California lilac shrubs were fixing nitrogen in the soil. And new Knobcone pine trees, which need temperatures above 350 degrees to pop open their cones and drop their seeds, were sprouting. “I think nature is finding a way,” State Parks senior environmental scientist Joanne Kerbavaz said. (Image: AP)
Bright yellow bush poppies, white violets and star lilies dotted the scorched landscape. Hillsides of purple California lilac shrubs were fixing nitrogen in the soil. And new Knobcone pine trees, which need temperatures above 350 degrees to pop open their cones and drop their seeds, were sprouting. “I think nature is finding a way,” State Parks senior environmental scientist Joanne Kerbavaz said. (Image: AP)
Damage from the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire is seen at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
Damage from the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire is seen at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, California on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
Scientists, parks advocates and conservations say the resiliency of Big Basin Redwoods State Park is cause for hope well beyond the Santa Cruz mountains. At first glance, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a mess. The entire 18,000-acre (7,284-hectare) park, which has about 1 million visitors a year, burned hard and fast for 24 hours and is still smoldering in a few spots, causing nearly $200 million in damage. (Image: AP)
Scientists, parks advocates and conservation activists say the resiliency of Big Basin Redwoods State Park is cause for hope well beyond the Santa Cruz mountains. At first glance, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a mess. The entire 18,000-acre park, which has about 1 million visitors a year, burned hard and fast for 24 hours and is still smoldering in a few spots, causing nearly $200 million in damage. (Image: AP)
More than 100 structures were destroyed, including the historic park headquarters, tent cabins, picnic tables, viewing platforms and trail railings. Dozens of bridges are gone, and logs litter the forest floor. In some places, smoldering subterranean root balls are still smoking, leaving dangerous underground ash pits, Kerbavaz said. (Image: AP)
More than 100 structures were destroyed, including the historic park headquarters, tent cabins, picnic tables, viewing platforms and trail railings. Dozens of bridges are gone, and logs litter the forest floor. In some places, smouldering subterranean root balls are still smoking, leaving dangerous underground ash pits, Joanne Kerbavaz said. (Image: AP)
Since last August, damage assessors have been trying to identify what toxins, hazards and other waste needs to be removed. The park doesn’t look much different than it did a week after the fire, when an Associated Press reporter and photographer hiked the renowned Redwood Trail and confirmed that most of the ancient redwoods, about 2,000 years old and among the tallest living things on Earth, had survived. (Image: AP)
Since last August, damage assessors have been trying to identify what toxins, hazards and other waste needs to be removed. The park doesn’t look much different than it did a week after the fire, when an Associated Press reporter and photographer hiked the renowned Redwood Trail and confirmed that most of the ancient redwoods, about 2,000 years old and among the tallest living things on Earth, had survived. (Image: AP)
The next eight to 10 months will be spent cleaning up the park, hauling out hulks of charred vehicles, rubble from collapsed roads and bridges and damaged campground structures. It will be up to a year before the public is allowed any safe access on trails beyond a small coastal area of Rancho Del Oso, which should open around Memorial Day, State Parks District Superintendent Chris Spohrer said. But no one should expect a straight rebuilding of what was lost, he said. (Image: AP)
The next eight to 10 months will be spent cleaning up the park, hauling out hulks of charred vehicles, rubble from collapsed roads and bridges and damaged campground structures. It will be up to a year before the public is allowed any safe access on trails beyond a small coastal area of Rancho Del Oso, which should open around Memorial Day, State Parks District Superintendent Chris Spohrer said. But no one should expect a straight rebuilding of what was lost, he said. (Image: AP)
When Big Basin opened in 1902, it marked the genesis of redwood forest conservation. But ideas about buildings, layout and land use have changed over 119 years. Redwoods are designed to be fire resistant. In old-growth forests, most trees have burn scars dating back hundreds of years. On Aug. 19, 2020, as trees ignited and animals fled, the only sounds in Big Basin were the roar of wildfire and the thundering crash as large trees fell. These days, tree tops are filled with birdsong. And on the forest floor, the lizards, skinks and salamanders that buried themselves deep in decayed organic matter as fire rolled by above are clambering back into the creeks. (Image: AP)
When Big Basin opened in 1902, it marked the genesis of redwood forest conservation. But ideas about buildings, layout and land use have changed over 119 years. (Image: AP)
Redwoods are designed to be fire resistant. In old-growth forests, most trees have burn scars dating back hundreds of years. On Aug. 19, 2020, as trees ignited and animals fled, the only sounds in Big Basin were the roar of wildfire and the thundering crash as large trees fell. These days, tree tops are filled with birdsong. And on the forest floor, the lizards, skinks and salamanders that buried themselves deep in decayed organic matter as fire rolled by above are clambering back into the creeks. (Image: AP)
Redwoods are designed to be fire resistant. In old-growth forests, most trees have burn scars dating back hundreds of years.  (Image: AP)
On Aug. 19, 2020, as trees ignited and animals fled, the only sounds in Big Basin were the roar of wildfire and the thundering crash as large trees fell. These days, tree tops are filled with birdsong. And on the forest floor, the lizards, skinks and salamanders that buried themselves deep in decayed organic matter as fire rolled by above are clambering back into the creeks. (Image: AP)
On August 19, 2020, as trees ignited and animals fled, the only sounds in Big Basin were the roar of wildfire and the thundering crash as large trees fell. These days, tree tops are filled with birdsong. And on the forest floor, the lizards, skinks and salamanders that buried themselves deep in decayed organic matter as fire rolled by above are clambering back into the creeks. (Image: AP)
New growth on burned trees from the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire is seen at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
New growth on burned trees from the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire is seen at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek in California, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
A sign marking the state park is damaged from the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire is seen at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
A sign marking the state park is damaged from the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire is seen at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek in California on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
A waterfall at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021.
A waterfall at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek California. (Image: AP)
California State Parks Ranger Juan Villarino hikes along a damaged trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
California State Parks Ranger Juan Villarino hikes along a damaged trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, California on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Image: AP)
Associated Press

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