The Soberanes Fire, as it is now named—after the canyon in which it started—grew from an illegal campfire in Garrapata State Park, near the coast, and quickly spread south, north, and east. In the end, 132,127 acres were scorched, and over 5,000 fire personnel participated in the battle against it. Fifty-seven homes and 11 outbuildings were destroyed, and a bulldozer operator lost his life.
Yesterday, a group of volunteer Ventana Wilderness Rangers went into the burnt area for the first time, to get training on the particular hazards that a fire creates and to plan a course of action for helping the U.S. Forest Service open the area back up to visitors. Our job to start with will be trail surveys—tallying dead trees and other obstacles that need to be removed, and to assess the trail work, especially tread rehabilitation and creation or improvement of water barriers, that will be required to bring the trails back into service. And then: the trail work itself can commence.
Foolishly, on our first foray into this striking charred wasteland, I forgot my camera! I kept seeing such wonderful shots, but no way to capture them. I eventually stopped kicking myself, and instead asked a fellow ranger if he'd send me his photos. So herewith, a taste of what fire can do—and of what life can do in response—courtesy of VWR Roger Beaudoin. Thanks, Roger!
|Skinner Ridge Trail: these shrubs were probably mostly|
California yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum),
chamise (Adenostema fasciculatum),
manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.),
and black sage (Salvia melifera)
|Pano from Bottchers Gap: burn area especially on the left|
|Skinner Ridge Trail looking toward Pico Blanco|
|Ventana Wilderness Rangers|
|Little Sur drainage|
In the meantime, we volunteer rangers and trail crew have a lot of work to do.