California wildfires destroy numerous redwood trees and historic buildings at Big Basin state park

Big Basin is oldest state park in California

Graig Graziosi
Friday 21 August 2020 20:09
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A beloved California state park filled with enormous redwood trees has been at least partially destroyed by wildfires, according to state officials and activist groups.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, just northeast of Santa Cruz, suffered significant damage from raging wildfires in the region. According to the LA Times, it is California's oldest state park.

A conservation group shared the news in a statement on Thursday.

"We are devastated to report that Big Basin, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone," the Sempervirens Fund said. "Early reports are that the wildfire has consumed much of the park's historic facilities. We do not yet know the fate of the park's grandest old trees."

California State Parks officials confirmed the damage in a news release, reporting that the park had suffered "sustained, extensive damage" on Tuesday from the CZU August Lightning Complex fires.

"The fire damaged the park's headquarters, historic core and campgrounds. Staff are currently assessing the damage caused by the fire to state park property and we do not know the number of acres burnt within the park right now," officials said in a statement.

A reporter and photographer from The Mercury News hiked into the park on Thursday to survey the damage. The journalists reported that numerous redwoods have fallen over, and others have been burnt on their bases, with fires igniting within the tree's trunk.

"Nearly all Big Basin's iconic redwood trees were scorched, and while many escaped the blaze with foliage intact, dozens near the park centre had been torched up to the crown and their tops had burnt off or broken," The Mercury News reporters wrote.

Big Basin was created in 1902 as part of an early push to protect the state's redwood trees.

The park has burnt once since its creation. In 1904, a fire tore through the park, prompting the New York Times to conclude that the park, "which contains some of the largest and finest redwoods trees in the State, seems doomed for destruction."

However, the park and its surrounding forest recovered from the destruction, and conservation groups are hoping a similar scenario plays out for the park again.

"We are confident that it will be reborn from the ashes and once again be a place that inspires and educates people from around the world," the conservationists said.

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