Progress is slowly being made to open portions of the Mendocino National Forest that was devastated by the Ranch Fire last year.
The Ranch Fire last August was one of the Mendocino Complex fires that burned nearly 500,000 acres, including the entire Snow Mountain Wilderness, to become the largest wildfire in California history.
Although many recreational areas are officially closed until July 1, 2020, Forest Supervisor Ann Carlson said last week that efforts are underway to provide recreational opportunities this year, particularly at Davis Flat and Little Stony campgrounds.
“We anticipate by mid summer to open the whole area,” Carlson said in a report to the Colusa County Board of Supervisors. “We just need to address some of the risks and do some signage so people entering there know some of the hazards that can be present in a fire area like that.”
Carlson said the U.S. Forest Service could possibly open Letts Lake this summer for limited day use.
“We hope to provide some access (fishing) by mid July but as far as camping, that will need to stay closed awhile,” she said. “It needs a fair amount of work for it to be safe for people to pitch a tent or go hiking. I’m thinking that’s a year out.”
In addition to risk posed by dead trees, visitors throughout the wilderness areas could also encounter wash outs from winter rain, she said.
Carlson said crews have undertaken a tremendous effort to repair burned out trails and damage from flooding, as well as removing the hazardous trees.
Although the Mendocino National Forest is at near normal temperature, winter rain has created a fuel crop that Carlson anticipates will dry out by late June, creating a fire hazard.
As for fire readiness, the U.S. Forest Service has for the Mendocino National Forest five fire engines, four water tenders, four patrol, two interagency “hot shot” crews of 20 firefighters each, one fire dozer, one dozer, one tree masticator, and one lookout.
“We lost one lookout tower in the fire in the high country,” she said.
For those who want forest updates, the Mendocino National Forest now has a mobile tour app that not only provides visitors a self-guided tour of the forest, it also sends real time alerts on topics such as wildland fires, weather and road conditions, and closures, Carlson said.
By downloading the app, forest visitors can plan their trip, discover recreational opportunities, learn about natural and cultural sites, locate sites of interest and by accepting the notifications message, and receive alerts.
Once the content is downloaded onto a visitor’s device, the information can be accessed at any time.
You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. ■