The National Park Service will reopen trails on the East side of the park
on Saturday, December 1, 2018. These trails include:
• Guardian Rock
• Buck Hollow
• Mule Mountain Pass
Conditions on these trails may change due to winter weather conditions – use caution when recreating in these areas.
This is the next step in a phased-approach that the National Park Service is taking in reopening the park after the devastating effects of the Carr Fire in July of 2018. In September, the park was able to open Whiskey Creek Boat Launch and Picnic Area, East Beach, and the Shasta Divide Nature Trail, soon followed by the Carr Powerhouse Picnic Area. All other areas of the park, including trails, campgrounds, and facilities, remain closed due to hazardous conditions following the Carr Fire. Visitors should expect limited visitor services and limited access to previously popular areas.
The Carr Fire burned 39,000 of the park’s 42,000 acres, most of which at moderate to high severity. The fire caused profound damage to park infrastructure which has been unprecedented in the park’s history – or even the history of the National Park Service. The park lost forty-seven structures and the fire did significant damage to park offices, campgrounds, water and sewer treatment facilities, roads, bridges, signs, and more.
While park staff work tirelessly to get basic operations back online, staff are also trying to open select areas of the park when they can mitigate immediate threats to life and property first. With the rainy season upon us, a big portion of these activities include cleaning out culverts, treating hazard trees, and installing structure protection, which includes filling and placing sand bags and barriers around the Camden House and the Whiskeytown Environmental School.
Visitors are reminded that Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is managed as a natural area and that there are always risks involved in outdoor recreation. The Carr Fire has increased risks to visitors; falling trees, burned out stump holes, continued fire, abandoned mine features, and loose rocks remain in much of the burned area. Winter storms present new hazards. The loss of trees and other vegetation contributes accelerated erosion due to decreased water infiltration and increased runoff. Flooding, sediment deposition, and the possibility of debris flow pose a
significant risk to human life and property, as well as critical natural and cultural resources.
Of particular concern are the watersheds at the base of Shasta Bally: Brandy Creek, Boulder Creek, Paige Boulder Creek, Mill Creek, and Crystal Creek all have been identified as areas with a high potential for debris flow. Debris flows are extremely dangerous water-laden masses of soil, vegetation, and rock that rush down mountainsides and funnel into stream channels capturing additional material in their path and eventually form fan-shaped deposits on valley floors. Smaller scale landslides and flood may occur anywhere within the park during rain events.
It is because of these hazards that the National Park Service is taking a phased-approach in reopening the park after the Carr Fire. Over the coming months, the park will take the following steps:
Damage Assessments – A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team report on impacts and stabilization needs resulting from the Carr Fire was provided to park staff. The team members have analyzed damages at specific sites and projected erosion impacts that could be caused by winter storms. With this in hand, park staff have been conducting additional damage assessments on the park roads, buildings, infrastructure, natural and cultural resources.
Planning and Prioritization – The above damage assessments will help identify immediate repair needs as well as more long term and complex repairs that will need to be made and likely more costly. This work will form the basis of the park recover and related funding strategy. The park will prioritize repairs that can be made by existing park staff and resources to safely open areas as quickly as possible while planning for longer term repair needs.
Immediate Repairs – After the assessments, park will complete repairs needed to safely reopen areas of the park, especially water lines, roads, and key buildings.
Reopening – Following the damage assessments and essential repairs, the park will open limited areas and facilities to the public. Other areas will be opened in subsequent phases – especially areas that have been identified as at risk due to flooding and debris flow.
Recovery – longer term recovery will continue after opening. Depending on available funding and the post fire effects of this winter’s storms, some areas of the park, and trails to waterfalls at the base of Shasta Bally may remain closed in winter for years.
If planning a trip to the park, carefully monitor weather forecasts. Consider a change of plans if rain is likely. Be aware that short intense bursts of rain may be particularly dangerous, especially after long periods of heavy rain or snow. If you observe movement of soil, debris, or flooding, move to higher ground immediately. Be especially alert while driving. Embankments along roadsides are susceptible to landslides. Visitor safety remains a park top priority. Please exercise extreme caution while recreating and remain aware of your surroundings.
Please check the park website www.nps.gov/whis or Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/whiskeytownnationalrecreationarea/ for the latest information