Stories of Success: Restoring and Reopening Whiskeytown

Ever since the Carr Fire of 2018, park staff and partners have been working hard to reopen Whiskeytown and rebuild lost infrastructure. While funding challenges are ongoing, and while the full reopening of the park will take years, significant progress has been made. Here are some accomplishments...
 
Showing their love and excitement for the reopening of Whiskey town Falls on Valentine's Day 2020, park staff create a heart shape with their bodies.
Showing their love and excitement for the reopening of Whiskeytown Falls on Valentine's Day 2020, park staff create a heart shape with their bodies. NPS Photo/Scott Einberger
Dozens of Miles of Trails Restored and Reopened. The most popular trail in the park, the James K. Carr Trail to Whiskeytown Falls reopened on Valentine's Day 2020. To date, Davis Gulch, Oak Bottom Water Ditch, Mount Shasta Mine, Crystal Creek Water Ditch, Crystal Creek Falls, and the trails in the southeastern corner of the park have all reopened.
 
Park maintenance staff rebuilding the main footbridge within Tower House Historic District.
Park maintenance staff rebuilding the main footbridge within the Tower House Historic District. NPS Photo
To make the reopenings possible, several footbridges were rebuilt and numerous trail stabilization features such as retaining walls were built.
 
Park maintenance staff removing dangerous hazard trees from South Shore Drive as part of the post-Carr Fire reopening effort. NPS Photo.
Park maintenance staff removing dangerous hazard trees from South Shore Drive as part of the post-Carr Fire reopening effort. NPS Photo.
Dozens of Miles of Roads Repaired and Reopened. This includes South Shore Drive, JFK Memorial Drive, Crystal Creek Road (from Highway 299 to the James K. Carr Trailhead), Paige Bar Road, and Mule Town Road. To reopen the roadways, thousands of dangerous hazard trees were cut and removed to reduce the threat of falling on people or vehicles.
 
A reopened campsite at Oak Bottom Tent Campground. NPS Photo
A reopened campsite at Oak Bottom Tent Campground. Debris was cleared and hazard trees were removed prior to reopening. NPS Photo.
Lakeshore Day Use and Overnight Areas Reopened. After significant burned tree removal and structural repairs, the most popular areas of the park reopened. This included but is not limited to: Brandy Creek Beach, Marina, Picnic Area, Boat Launch, and RV Campground; Oak Bottom Beach, Marina, Picnic Area, Boat Launch, Tent Campground, and RV Campground; and Whiskey Creek Picnic Area and Boat Launch.
 
Park forester planting oak seedling.
Whiskeytown's forester showcasing a just-planted live oak seedling. NPS Photo.
Shade Trees Planted for Day Use and Overnight Areas. In the fall of 2020, park staff planted oak seedlings in and around Oak Bottom to create future shade for picnickers, beachgoers, and RVers. Oak acorns had been collected in the park a year prior, and these acorns became baby trees at CalFire's L.A. Moran Reforestation Center before being transplanted back to Whiskeytown.
 
Park staff finishing up the installation of Oak Bottom's new wastewater processing plant.
Park staff finishing up the installation of Oak Bottom's new wastewater processing plant. NPS Photo
"Max," the New Wastewater Treatment System, Installed at Oak Bottom. The previous wastewater facility was destroyed in the fire. It was replaced by Max, or technically the Ax-Max, system.
 
Whiskeytown log deck.
Log deck from public firewood sale in 2020. NPS Photo
Public Firewood Sale. In the year after the fire, where terrain and access allowed, park staff placed hazard and other downed trees in piles, or log decks. Through special use wood collection permits, the park then opened up these log decks to the public so that locals could cut and collect them for use as firewood. This program occured in February and March of 2020 and over 150 permits were issued.
 
Two people walking hand in hand towards sun.
Miki'ala Catalfano - After All That. Water-based Akua ink, acrylic medium and charcoal collected from the Carr Fire on handmade flax paper. Frame painted with acrylic pigments and mediums with charcoal from the Carr fire.
Art from the Ashes-Seeds of Regrowth Community Healing Project. To support the healing process within the local community, Whiskeytown partnered with Art from the Ashes, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, on a public art project involving locals creating art from actual burned materials from the fire. In summer 2019, these art installations were showcased in several public locations within Redding. All entries and artist statements for the Seeds of Regrowth project can be viewed on the Art From the Ashes photo gallery on Facebook. You can also learn more on the Art From the Ashes website or watch the McConnell Foundation's six-minute video showcasing the artwork.
 
A "leaf" of the Redbud Recovery Tree. Leaf text written by a community member and reads: "Whiskeytown is a place of joy, a place of rest, a place of glory. My place. Our place. She will heal and rise even greater than before."
A "leaf" of the Redbud Recovery Tree. Leaf text written by a community member. NPS Photo
Redbud Recovery Community Healing Project. Also to support the healing process caused by the fire within the local community, in 2019, park staff and the Whiskeytown Environmental School Community spearheaded a "redbud recovery" project outside the Visitor Center. The project allowed visitors to write their reflections and thoughts down about Whiskeytown and the fire and then physically place these written comments on a statuary "redbud recovery" tree.
 
A burned hazard tree marked for removal.
A burned hazard tree in the park marked for removal. NPS Photo
15,000 Hazard Trees Removed. Park maintenance staff and contractors have removed over 15,000 hazard trees to date! Hazard trees are defined as burned or partially burned trees near roadways, trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, or other developed areas that are in danger of falling. The hazard trees have therefore been cut and removed to reduce the chances of falling on a person, car, or park structure.
 
Park staff and volunteers restoring the side yard of the Camden House after firefighters bulldozed a line through the yard to protect it from the fire.
Park staff and volunteers restoring the side yard of the Camden House after firefighters bulldozed a line through the yard to protect it from the fire.
Tower House Historic District Reopened. The park's signature historic area reopened in June 2020 after significant structural stabilization occured and after the main footbridge into the historic district was rebuilt. Additional work included rebuilding the white-picket fence around Camden House and Levi Tower Grave, which burned in the fire, as well as removing the dozer line scar from the front yard of Camden House.
 
A park gravel roadway showing new culvert and rip rap treatment.
A restabilized park roadway showing metal culvert and rip rap treatment.
Dozens of Road Culverts Replaced and Rip Rapped. The park includes dozens of miles of gravel roads, and many sections of these roadways washed out during heavy rains the winter and spring after the fire. To restabilize these roads, roadbeds were regraded, culverts were replaced, and rip rap, an erosion control measure utilizing heavy boulders to stabilize steep slopes, was placed in numerous locations.

While most of these primitive roads have not reopened to the public yet, they are important for telecommunication contractor access (Shasta Bally Road) and fire management staff access.
 
Park cultural resource specialists documenting a new water ditch in February 2020.
Park cultural resource specialists documenting a new water ditch in February 2020.
Park Archeology Thrives After the Fire. With the unprecedented destruction of soil and vegetation throughout the park during the fire, the landscape was opened up like never before. This allowed Whiskeytown's field archeologist, John Fable, to make some incredible finds. Dozens of additional miles of water ditches and pottery from China were just a few of John's discoveries. Read more about post-Carr Fire archeology in Things We Found Because of the Fire.
 
Staff and contractors removing toxic material from the park.
Staff and contractors removing toxic material from the park.
Thousands of Tons of Toxic Material Removed. Burned buildings created massive amounts of toxic ash and debris that could have easily leached into waterways and polluted. To mitigate this problem, immediately after the fire, Whiskeytown partnered with the National Park Service's Office of Public Health to remove 2,800 tons of material. Where materials were deemed not toxic, 1,154 tons of concrete and nine tons of metal debris was recycled.
 
Park staff installing Hesco barriers.
Park maintenance staff installing Hesco barriers at the Tenant House.
Hesco Barriers Installed and Placed Strategically to Protect Park Infrastructure. After major fires, rain within burn scars can cause substantial erosion, flooding, landslides and debris flows. To reduce the chances of these hazards destroying remaining park infrastructure, Hesco barriers were placed around several buildings within the Tower House Historic District as well as at Brandy Creek Beach. This involved the placement of thousands of pounds of sand in boxes in linear fashion to push high water or debris flows around buildings, should they occur. The Hesco barriers will be removed when enough vegetation has regrown withn the burn scar.


Learn more about the Carr Fire.

Last updated: November 3, 2021

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Whiskeytown , CA 96095

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