We’re Back in Big Basin! SCMTS Crews Prep Backcountry for Prescribed Burn

August 4, 2023
We’re supporting California State Parks’ prescribed burn program in the Big Basin backcountry so that you can get out there sooner and reconnect with the most remote parts of the park.

Fire is unavoidable in California. The state’s ecosystems have evolved with fire, and their extraordinary diversity is maintained by fire. Three years after the historic CZU Lightning Fire Complex charred Big Basin Redwoods State Park, we’re in the field with California State Parks using fire to preserve and protect the park so that folks can get back out in the backcountry having fun.

Our crew’s kicking things off with fuel management work, then plans to transition into trail restoration efforts aimed at reopening backcountry trails that have been closed since 2020. The fuel management work our crew’s doing today is an important first step toward reopening Big Basin’s backcountry and laying the groundwork for long-term forest management activities.

Building to a Burn

In an effort to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires in park units, California State Parks is focusing on planning for forest health and fuel reduction projects at Big Basin. The current work our crews are doing at Big Basin will further efforts to build towards future prescribed burns.

Our SCMTS Trail Crew will prepare this backcountry plot so that it’s set up to burn in the best possible way. We want to see lots of fuels on the ground, and very crisp, clear edges to keep the burn contained within the plot. And that means felling lots of snags and removing miles of brush from the edges. But we’ve been preparing for this hard work.

Over the past few seasons, our team’s undergone rounds of chainsaw training to build up their felling skills. In the Big Basin backcountry, they’ll be put to the test clearing the dense brush so that the plot burns how we want it to, and not during an uncontrolled wildfire. Backcountry trails will be used as fire breaks, so clearing all brush across a 20’ trail corridor creates an important safety barrier to contain the upcoming prescribed burn.

In addition to this fuel management work, California State Parks is conducting nesting bird surveys to avoid wildlife impacts throughout our time in the forest.

We’ll share week-by-week updates via our Instagram and newsletter–follow us on these channels to get the behind-the-scenes peek at this work from our crew’s POV.

Accelerating Backcountry Access

Your support powers our continued partnership with California State Parks so that we can tackle post-burn. Through this work, we’ll help you and other outdoor enthusiasts get back into the Big Basin backcountry sooner.

As soon as the CZU wildfires hit Big Basin, we knew we’d have to get out there and lend a hand in the rebuilding process. After working to reopen Fall Creek Unit of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park last year, we’re thrilled to continue our support of CA State Parks in Big Basin as we work to reopen trails that have been closed for nearly three years! Our crew’s time in the field is made possible thanks to wildfire resilience funding from the Governor’s office.

Following this initial fuel management work to support the upcoming prescribed burn, we’ll embark on the trail restoration process. Our work felling trees and clearing brush helps us assess the status of the current backcountry trails and understand what’s needed for a safe reopening. After the prescribed burn, we’ll leverage donor funds to retrofit the trail and get it ready for reopening day. This is just the beginning of Big Basin’s healing process; we’re looking forward to many months of important restoration work out in this special landscape.


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