Fire at Whiskeytown

Firefighter at Whiskeytown
Whiskeytown firefighter and drip torch during a prescribed burn. NPS Photo/Kurt Moses.

The goals of the Fire Management Program at Whiskeytown is to protect people, property and resources from large, high-intensity wildfires; to reduce build-up of forest fuels; and to bring fire back into the ecosystem. With the intensity and destruction of wildland fires increasing throughout California and the Western United States due to anthropogenic climate change, a century of fire supression practice, and more and more people moving into natural areas away from city limits, wildland fire management is a challenging task and will only become more challenging in the years to come. The Fire Management Program at Whiskeytown uses many different tools to accomplish its goals...

Firefighters protecting a 500 year old oak tree within Whiskeytown National Recreation Area via spraying water on it with a hose during the Carr Fire.
Firefighters protecting a 500 year old oak tree within Tower House Historic District during the Carr Fire.

All unplanned fires at Whiskeytown are put out as quickly as possible. Whiskeytown fire staff work closely with interagency partners like Cal Fire, the United States Forest Service, Shasta County and the City of Redding to fight fire aggressively while protecting property and keeping the public and firefighters safe.

Whiskeytown Not-So-Fun Fact: every year, park firefighters put out several fires that are accidentally started by visitors. Since 2021, fires in the park have been started by fireworks (the use of fireworks is illegal in the park), campfires not being drowned out with water, campfires being left unattended, and by vehicle accidents on Highway 299.

Whiskeytown Engine 2 working on the Power Tower prescribed burn.
Whiskeytown Engine 2 working on Power Tower prescribed burn.

Prescribed Fire
Prescribed fire is used to ignite low intensity fires when weather conditions are right. The goal of prescribed fire is to reduce hazardous fuel build-up while safely reintroducing fire to the ecosystem. The indigenous people of this area, known collectively as the Wintu, conducted prescribed fire for hundreds of years prior to the 1900s.

Whiskeytown firefighter conducting pile burning to reduce fuels.

Mechanical Treatments
A variety of tools and equipment are used to reduce forest fuels in the park. They include the use of chain saws, weed eaters, hand crews, and chippers to maintain defensible space around buildings, create and maintain shaded fuelbreaks, and to clear along roadways. Small trees and brush are cut, piled, chipped and burned during appropriate times. From approximately November to May each year, watch for this work occuring throughout the park - it's a never ending task to keep fuels low, even after the Carr Fire of 2018.

A Whiskeytown firefighter and young visitor inside the Oak Bottom Fire Station during the Junior Firefighters program.

Fire Education
Park firefighters and interpretive park rangers at Whiskeytown work to educate visitors, employees, agency partners and neighbors about wildland fire and fire management policy at Whiskeytown. During summer, children and their families can learn about firefighters and fire at Whiskeytown by attending the Junior Firefighters program at the Oak Bottom Fire Station. In 2024, this program runs on Saturdays May 25, July 6, and August 31, at 10am. This hands-on program enables kids to touch, see, and even try on firefighting equipment. Whiskeytown also has a Junior Firefighter Activity Book that can be picked up at the Visitor Center throughout the year. Children or visitors of any age complete the booklet activities and then review it with a park ranger to receive a special badge.

In addition to the Junior Firefighters program and book, interpretive park rangers are available to conduct in-classroom or virtual presentations to organized groups. Fire-related programs include A Climate of Change at Whiskeytown and Adapted for Fire. Visit the park's
education webpage for more information on these and other programs.

For questions about Whiskeytown's fire management policy, to schedule a fire ecology or climate change education program for your school group, or for other fire questions and inquiries, email Scott Einberger, Supervisory Interpretive Park Ranger, at

To learn more about Fire Management within the National Park System and Elsewhere...

Fire (U.S. National Park Service) (

[Fire Season] | - link to a six-minute documentary film focused on fire management in the United States. Film produced and created by a high school senior based out of Klamath Falls, Oregon!

Last updated: March 22, 2024

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 188
Whiskeytown, CA 96095


530 242-3400

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