Volcanic mountains

Almost 70% of Lassen Volcanic National Park burned down by forest fire


Located in northern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the state’s most popular, drawing half a million visitors each year. Although less well known than other popular parks such as Yosemite, this 100,000-acre park is a favorite with our travel experts.

Located 130 miles north of Sacramento at the southern end of the Cascade Mountains, Lassen Volcanic National Park is known for – what else – volcanoes! It is one of the few regions in the world where all four types of volcanoes – pluggable dome, shield, ash cone and strato – can be found in one place, such as The journey awaits you Contributor Carol Colburn notes in her article Road Trip: 5 Quaint Stops In Washington, Oregon, And California. This isolated park’s eponymous volcano, Lassen Peak, last erupted in 1914, and the eruption continued for 3 years.

Home to many thermal features including splashing mud pools, boiling springs, steaming soils, and hot sulphurous gases rising from smoldering fumaroles, Lassen Volcanic National Park also includes scenic grasslands and lakes, painted dunes. and over 150 miles of hiking trails. Usually this is a spectacular place for stargazing, however, the smoke does have an impact on the air quality.

Lately, the Dixie Fire had a blast in this northern California national park, leaving scorched earth in place of 72,737 acres, or 68% of the park as of September 16, 2021. The entire park has closed until ‘See you again.

Now the largest wildfire in California this year, the Dixie Fire began on July 13, 2021, southeast of Feather River Canyon Park. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Currently, “fire is burning in Plumas National Forest and Lassen National Forest, as well as in Lassen Volcanic National Park and in five counties: Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta and Tehama,” according to the National Parks Service ( NPS).

The US Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program states that “the Dixie Fire remains at 960,581 acres (+111 acres) and is 86% contained. You can see a map of the current spread of the fire on Google Maps. Here is the results of the fire in this precious national park.

Bungalows 3 and 4 flanked by the remains of Bungalows 1 and 2 and 5 and 6 which were destroyed by the Dixie fire. (Photo credit: NPS)

Damaged or destroyed areas of Lassen Volcanic National Park

While the NPS has embarked on preventative tactics known as fuel treatment, it states that “the destroyed and damaged structures and facilities highlight the reality that fuel treatment alone cannot prevent losses from fuel. catastrophic fire ”. Here is what was damaged.

Remains of the annex building behind the dining room at Drakesbad Guest Ranch in the Warner Valley area of ​​Lassen Volcanic National Park
Remains of the annex building behind the dining room at Drakesbad Guest Ranch in the Warner Valley area of ​​Lassen Volcanic National Park (Photo credit: NPS)

Warner Valley

The historic Drakesbad Guest Ranch is a beloved part of the Park’s Warner Valley area. A combination of efforts – reducing fuel consumption, protecting structures including external sprinkler systems, defensible space, and aggressive firefighting – left most structures intact.

Cultural resource specialists from a Burnt Areas Emergency Response Team (BAER) inspect the destroyed annex building of the Drakesbad Guest Ranch in the Warner Valley region. (Photo credit: NPS)

Ultimately, much of the ranch and its cultural landscape remains intact. However, two bungalow units (1-2 and 5-6), the annex building behind the dining room and the wastewater treatment plant were destroyed.

A member of a Burnt Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) examines a section of boardwalk near the start of the Warner Valley Trail burnt by a wildfire
A member of a Burnt Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) inspects a section of boardwalk near the start of the Warner Valley Trail burnt by a wildfire. (Photo credit: NPS)

At Warner Valley Campground, 5 feet of the boardwalk near the Warner Valley trailhead burned down.

Juniper Lake area entrance sign
Entrance sign to the Juniper Lake area. (Image credit: NPS)

Juniper lake

Juniper Lake is a beautiful high mountain lake that offers views of Lassen Peak and other surrounding peaks. According to the NPS, crews have completed tree thinning work around the Juniper Lake cabins located on the lake’s northwest shore. Nevertheless, seven of the eight cabins were destroyed by the Dixie fire. Only one remained unharmed.

Most of the cabins which succumbed to the fire belonged to individuals. However, one of them belonged to the federal government. According to the Lassen NPS Facebook page, the cabin belonging to the National Park Service “had a vital function as it accommodated the crews who worked in this area of ​​the park.” Years of fuel cleaning saved the Juniper Lake Ranger station.

Smoke from the Dixie fire seen from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee visitor center on 08/04/2021
Smoke from the Dixie Fire seen from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center on 08/04/2021 (Image credit: NPS)

South West

“Contractors and park staff removed another 300 trees from the Southwest and Lake Manzanita campgrounds and reduced the density of stands around the Kohm Yah-mah-nee visitor center,” according to the NPS. The Kohm Yah-mah-nee visitor center has been confirmed intact. However, the Kings Creek Falls lookout suffered damage.

Firefighters are clearing the perimeter of the fire in the southwest area of ​​the park
Firefighters are clearing the perimeter of the fire in the southwest area of ​​the park. (NPS Image Credit)

The Southwest Campground saw two of its three Mill Creek Falls Trail bridges destroyed, while the third suffered minimal burns. The Kings Creek picnic area would have been lightly to moderately affected.

Park areas confirmed intact or minimal damage

The NPS states that “Although some structures are confirmed to be damaged or destroyed, firefighters have been successful in leveraging the park’s previous and current fire and fuel management projects to preserve the park’s resources and structures. Here is what is still intact.

Lake of the Butte

In August, winds blew the fire along the eastern shore of Juniper Lake, north to Snag Lake and almost to Butte Lake. Entire Butte Lake area including Butte Lake Ranger Station, Butte Lake Campground, Storage Yard, Water Reservoir and Treatment Plant, and Day Use Area de Butte Lake were confirmed to be intact or with minimal damage.

Summit Lake

Thanks to the success of the interagency firefighting, the Summit Lake area, the Summit Lake Ranger Station, and all structures at the Summit Lake Campground remain intact.

Years of fuel reduction have strengthened the region’s resistance to forest fires. Summit Lake and Southwest campgrounds have experienced significant tree mortality due to drought, insects and disease. Teams removed 2,000 trees, including 500 dead, from the Summit Lake campgrounds.

National Park Service personnel at work during the Dixie fire
National Park Service personnel at work during the Dixie fire. (Image credit: NPS)

Manzanita Lake

The Lake Manzanita area including the Loomis Museum, Ranger Station, Discovery Center, Campground, RV Shop, and Amphitheater are not affected.

Complete removal strategy

In unified command with the USFS and CAL FIRE, Lassen Volcanic National Park is implementing a comprehensive suppression strategy that includes delay drops and aerial operations as well as the use of heavy equipment and bulldozers.

At the end of August, 3,363 staff were working to suppress the Dixie fire, according to the NPS, including many park staff.

Botanists on a burnt area of ​​emergency response (BAER) team survey Warner Valley meadow above Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Botanists from a Burnt Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) investigate the Warner Valley grassland above the guest ranch at Drakesbad. (Photo credit: NPS)

Burned Area Emergency Response Team (BAER)

As part of the post-fire response, the Burnt Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) began to assess the damage on September 9, 2021. The interagency team of specialists assesses natural and cultural resources , including “recreation facilities, infrastructure, cultural resources, watershed and hydrology, fish and wildlife habitat, rare plants and invasive species” by NPS. In addition to repairing damage from fire suppression and the BAER team’s post-fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation efforts, long-term restoration is required.

When will Lassen Volcanic National Park reopen?

For the moment, there is no estimate of the reopening of the park.

Park Superintendent Jim Richardson says, “We stand in solidarity with surrounding communities who have suffered loss. Lassen Volcanic National Park embodies a story of resilience, as life exists here in a landscape once covered in volcanic ash and rock. While the park remains closed, we want our visitors to know that we miss you and look forward to seeing you again when the park is able to increase safe public access. “

Related reading:

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