Several Sonoma County Regional Parks were damaged in October's wildfires and are closed indefinitely as we assess impacts and plan repairs. Here is a summary of how the parks fared and when they might reopen.
Photos of the fire impacts are available on our Flickr page.
Shiloh Ranch off of Faught Road is where firefighters stopped the Tubbs Fire's march toward Windsor. Fire crews carved breaks and lit back fires in the park to prevent the fire’s spread west. We estimate about 800 acres – 93 percent of the park - suffered varying degrees of fire damage. Some areas burned intensely and other areas suffered lighter damage. Although the majority of the park burned, the tree canopy is mostly intact. We’re identifying hazardous trees, erosion threats, and trails that need repair, and we anticipate Shiloh could be closed for several months.
This 21-acre complex of sports fields across Old Redwood Highway from Cardinal Newman High School was squarely in the path of the Tubbs firestorm as it swept through Larkfield and jumped Highway 101 into northwest Santa Rosa. We’re assessing impacts to the turf and infrastructure and don’t yet know when it might reopen.
More than half of Hood Mountain Regional Park and Preserve was burned or otherwise impacted when the Oakmont Fire (later part of the Nuns Fire) flared along Pythian Road a week into the firefight. We estimate about 1,338 acres in the center and southern half the park suffered damage, including Gunsight Rock and the Lawson Addition, which was not yet open to the public. Fire crews made a stand on Hood Mountain by bulldozing wide breaks across ridges, including through the park's pygmy forest. Some forested slopes were completely scorched while only the understory burned in other areas. Hot spots are still smoldering, and hazard trees and erosion are real safety threats. Both the Los Alamos and Pythian entrances are closed. We may be able to reopen the Los Alamos entrance in coming weeks, with significant trail closures, but may need months to reopen the Pythian entrance.
Most of the 237-acre park was blackened in the early part of the Nuns Fire as it blew down from the Mayacamas and across Highway 12. The fire moved through quickly, burning grasses and brush but leaving the crowns of the dense oak forest in place. The dog park and picnic tables along the paved Valley of the Moon Trail also emerged unscathed. We’re evaluating damage, especially the potential for hazard trees. We estimate it will be weeks or longer before the park reopens.
At Crane Creek Regional Park, just east of Rohnert Park at the base of Sonoma Mountain, about 34 acres (27 percent of the park) was burned by a spur of the Nuns Fire. Crews, including parks staff, dug a line around it and stopped it from spreading. The park was closed for three weeks after the fire, and is now open.
About 20 acres of the park’s Tolay Creek Ranch addition burned during a fire along Highway 37. The Tolay Fall Festival, scheduled for two weeks in October, was cancelled due to the overall fire emergency in the county. Three thousand pumpkins intended for festival-goers were instead given to schools and non-profits serving children impacted by the fires. The park has reopened to its permit-holders.
Supporting the Parks
We appreciate the outpouring of support we've received from people concerned about the parks. We understand that tending to beloved landscapes is a critical aspect of our community's recovery. The Regional Parks Foundation has established the "Sonoma County Parks Response and Recovery" donation fund to help offset renovation and preservation costs. To donate, go to SonomaCountyParksFoundation.org and select “Parks Recovery Fund.”
We've also received many offers from people who want to volunteer to help the parks reopen. We appreciate the interest and hope to organize volunteer workdays after the parks are assessed and safe to enter. If you'd like to get on a volunteer interest list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.