|Looking over Big Basin from China Grade|
This time of year is a perfect time to initiate prescribed burning plans. The weather has been just dry enough, and yet the soil conditions have been just moist enough to allow for controlled burn projects. With the temperatures cooling at night, right about now is not only the best opportunity, but is really the only opportunity all year for getting it done. A couple of weeks ago we found a team of CDF firemen preparing to conduct controlled burns at Henry Coe. They had waited for the right conditions, and by now should have completed those plans. Last week prescribed burns were carried out in Big Basin. About 460 acres in the area of Johansen Road was burned to clear out excessive debris and overgrowth. Johansen Road is a fire road along the northern boundary of the park. The remains of the blaze were still soldering on Saturday which was producing noticeable smoke and odor in some areas, but the project was carried out without a hitch, and completed.
There is also some construction work being carried out at Big Basin headquarters. Most of the areas around the headquarters complex including the main office, store, museum, and restrooms have been blocked off because the walkways have been torn up (see photos below). It seems that even though the state is planning to close 70 parks because of lack of funding to keep them maintained, the remaining parks like Big Basin, which are to remain open, still need to comply with the latest ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) demands for improvements. And of course these improvements have to come from the state park budget which has been slashed to the bone already. Parks like Garrapata, Castle Rock, and Portola, have to close completely in order to make compliance improvements at other parks that benefit less than 1% of the population. I am now beginning to wonder whether some of the parks that close may never be able to reopen unless additional funding is found for similar legal requirements.