Visitors to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area will see some new features and restored facilities at the park this summer.
That’s after park staff rangers spent much of the past year restoring areas of Whiskeytown damaged by the Carr Fire in summer 2018, and the floods that further damaged the park in February 2019. Experts said at the time, the fire destroyed 96% of the park.
Park staff completed several projects this winter, Park Superintendent Josh Hoines said.
And the park is planning more over the next year, such as repairing trails that have stayed closed since the fire and installing trail signs around the park.
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We are prioritizing them (trails for restoration) based on use — how many people (hike on them),” Hoines said.
What follows is a list of the jobs that just got completed and the jobs still left to do.
What’s been done at Whiskeytown?
- There are now prefabricated cement restrooms at the Guardian Rock Trail and the Judge Francis Carr Powerhouse picnic area. The latest arrived at the powerhouse by truck on Wednesday, and was installed using a crane. The facilities have lower operating costs because they only have to be painted once every five to 10 years, Hoines said.
- Concrete resurfacing on walkways in the Carr Powerhouse area is almost done, and the pavilion will be replaced. “It was in bad shape after snowmageddon (2019 snowstorm) knocked it completely down.”
- The Guardian Rock Trail got paved. This is an easy quarter-mile walk with an overview of Clear Creek.
- The wood on the Peltier Bridge is new. The span leads into the Peltier Campground. The pressure-treated lumber will make it safe and accessible for several years until the bridge is replaced, Hoines said.
- Park staff also spent a lot of time removing dead burned trees for safety reasons. Areas where that took place include Horse Camp.
What other work needs to get done?
One of the next things on the park’s to-do list are the Brandy Creek Trail and the Boulder Creek Trail, both of which need a great deal of work because of the soil erosion. The repairs on Brandy Creek could be completed as early as August while those on Boulder Creek could get done next year.
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Some park attendees said they were uncomfortable hiking near damaged areas before repairs were made.
“We were at the Carr Powerhouse two weeks ago,” JoAnn Blomquist posted on Facebook on Friday. “It looked like the restrooms were gone and only a (portable bathroom was) available to use. There was lots of construction going on. We didn’t feel comfortable getting out of our car.”
What impact did COVID-19 have on the park?
The pandemic did not hurt Whiskeytown’s attendance in 2020.
“We had 811,000 visitors last year,” Hoines said. “That’s on par with our visitation numbers before the Carr Fire.”
- During the pandemic, park passes and reservations for campsites became available online only at recreation.gov.
- The Visitor Center and shop also went online at www.wnpa.org. Select “park stores” and scroll down to Whiskeytown.
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Nature is also helping restore the park. New growth is covering old ash and stabilizing soil in some burn areas.
“After a couple of winters, things are really responding for sure,” Hoines said. “Every day we’re getting a little bit closer (to restoration).”
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.
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