For Immediate Release: 5/26/2022
BIG BASIN UPDATE State Parks Shares Concept for a Connected, Collaborative, Reimagined Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Doug Johnson, Information Officer
Vision for the Reimagined Park to be discussed at a community event on June 3
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California State Parks today announced the release of the Reimagining Big Basin Vision Summary, a collaborative vision created through months of public input to guide the reestablishment of Big Basin Redwoods State Park after the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire.
The draft vision outlines a Reimagined Park that will be different from the Big Basin the public remembers, with facilities and services established outside of the old growth redwoods and areas with sensitive resources. Access will be improved for alternative modes of transportation, including a shuttle to reduce congestion and increase non-automotive access to the park. Connectivity and collaborative resource management will be prioritized as the park returns to full operation to enhance visitor experiences throughout the park and build resilient partnerships within the region.
“While the CZU Lightning Complex Fire’s impacts to the park were tragic, the forest is incredibly resilient and regrowing,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “This is our time, as stewards of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, to increase the resiliency of the forest and equity of access to all Californians, and honor the deep history that makes this park so iconic. We look forward to our continued partnership with the public.”
State Parks will pursue the following strategies to meet the guiding principles for the reestablished park:
- Locating visitor parking and buildings outside the old growth and providing a shuttle.
- Within the old growth, prioritizing for resiliency, ecological process, and natural experience.
- Relocating some camping experiences outside the core of old growth area.
- Managing visitor use throughout the park to minimize congestion and to provide a variety of experiences.
- Increasing inclusive and diverse storytelling.
- Pursuing partnerships to restore Native ceremonial space and land stewardship.
- Managing natural resources at a landscape scale, informed by traditional ecological knowledge, tribal expertise, and scientific understanding.
- Designing facilities based on sustainability and resiliency.
- Increasing trail experiences by restoring the trail network and by pursuing new trail access.
The public is invited to discuss the draft Reimagining Big Basin Vision that will be publicly shared at a community presentation on Friday, June 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Boulder Creek Recreation Hall, 13333 Middleton Ave., Boulder Creek, CA 95006.
“Redwoods are too big for small dreams, and Reimagining Big Basin is ambitious: it prioritizes the oldest trees in the park, now and into the future,” said Sempervirens Fund Executive Director Sara Barth. “How visitors can access these areas and enjoy them will continue to evolve in future phases of planning, but it is paramount to protect the oldest forests so they can recover, thrive once more, and continue to establish the healthy forests of the future.”
State Parks initiated the Reimagining Big Basin project in summer 2021 to begin the planning process for permanent park facilities. This process has included public events and activities to hear from partners, stakeholders and the community to assess the priorities for rebuilding. The Reimagining Big Basin Vision highlights themes that emerged from the public process, including forest resiliency and how to be inclusive to California’s diverse population as park facilities are reestablished.
Reestablishing full access to the reimagined park is expected to take several years. Planning will continue in phases. To get the latest updates and get on the mailing list, please visit ReimaginingBigBasin.org.
Limited Day Use Access
Substantial progress has been made towards restoring access to portions of Big Basin Redwoods SP, which has been closed to the public since the CZU Lightning Complex Fire burned through 97% of the park in August 2020.
During the upcoming interim period while permanent facilities are planned, designed and constructed, California State Parks is working to offer interim access to Big Basin later this summer by installing temporary facilities. An online reservation system for limited day use access, developed in partnership with co-management partner Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, will launch later this summer. The limited park access will occur in conjunction with the reopening of Highway 236. The opening date and other details will be announced soon.
Big Basin Redwoods SP is the oldest state park in California. The lands known today as Big Basin Redwoods SP were originally the homelands of the Quiroste and Cotoni tribes, ancestral relatives of today’s Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. The park was acquired in 1902. Prior to the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, the park had miles of trails and fire roads — which served hikers, bikers and equestrians, linking Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range — and hundreds of campsites.
Almost all of the old growth redwood forest burned in the fire, but is now recovering. State Parks staff, volunteers and contractors have spent the past 18 months doing intensive recovery work throughout Big Basin and other state parks damaged by the fire. Work at Big Basin includes hazardous tree removal along the park road system, removal of burned utility systems, repairs to roads and culverts, and removal of debris and hazardous materials at the sites of burned buildings.
The resilient redwood forest also is putting in work — almost every large old growth redwood tree is showing regrowth, with green needles sprouting from blackened trunks and branches.
Members of the public wishing to support the recovery efforts may visit ReimaginingBigBasin.org.
Regrowth can be seen throughout Big Basin Redwoods State Park this spring. Photos from California State Parks.
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