The 2020 CZU Lighting Complex Fire burned approximately 90,0000 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, including 2,850 acres of Pescadero Creek County Park. It was the largest fire recorded in history for the region and the park.
Two years later, a thorough assessment of forest conditions by the San Mateo County Parks Department in coordination with Auten Resource Consulting has guided development of the Climate and Habitat Resiliency Plan for Pescadero Creek Park to improve forest habitat, promote presence of more old growth trees and forest diversification, and promote forest resiliency in the face of climate change and wildfire.
The Climate and Habitat Resiliency Plan details actions the Department can take to nurture redwood and Douglas fir growth to the size of old growth forests – a rare sight in the park today. “It will take a long time to implement the plan and observe changes in the forest,” Assistant Parks Director Hannah Ormshaw notes. “The forest conditions we face today took 100 years of logging and fire suppression and it will take another 100 years to remedy.”
More 1,000 acres, divided into 10-to-140-acre projects are identified for treatment, each with specific overarching goals that will benefit from forest restoration or management focused on reducing tree density and competition for water, light, and nutrients, fuel reduction and other measures to reduce the impacts of extreme wildfire. Grassland restoration to slow the spread of shrubs and Douglas fir are additional elements of the plan to be considered based on location and conditions, as are resources needed for plant and animal biodiversity to thrive and to foster habitat for endangered species, such as the marbled murrelet.
Monitoring after work is completed an important goal of the plan, as is evaluating the results to inform future projects and any appropriate changes to the plan.
The plan includes much of the detail needed for future project permitting, helping to streamline what can often be a lengthy process. Each project will also be required to undergo environmental review.
The Climate and Habitat Resiliency Plan for Pescadero Creek Park will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on December 6 for review. Approval of the plan allows the Department to initiate the project selection process, ensure California Environmental Quality Act compliance, and obtain permits and funding.