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Restoration Underway in Sequoia Area

November 17, 2002|From Associated Press

JOHNSONDALE, Calif. — A $3-million emergency project is underway to begin restoring the charred landscape where one of California's worst wildfires threatened groves of giant sequoias last summer.

The McNally fire blackened 150,696 acres in the Sequoia National Forest, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Inyo National Forest.

During the U.S. Forest Service's first tour for area residents Friday, district ranger Del Pengilly described what remains as "a moonscape."

"This is a good example of what fire looks like," Pengilly told the Fresno Bee, overlooking a canyon once covered with trees. "It's sad."

The fire started July 21 when high winds spread a camper's fire, destroying the Road's End Resort nearby. Peri Van Brunt of Bakersfield has pleaded not guilty to illegally setting the fire and faces a Nov. 25 court appearance.

It took $60 million, 2,000 firefighters and six weeks to contain the fire, which Pengilly called one of the five worst in California history and the worst ever in the Sequoia National Forest.

The service has begun removing fire-damaged trees near roadways, and is planning erosion-control and restoration efforts. Last week's storm dumped about 20 inches of rain in 36 hours on some denuded areas, covering roads and lining culverts with eroded soil.

Emergency efforts include using fallen trees to block sliding sediment, said wildlife biologist Steve Anderson.

Over 18 months, the service will draw up other restoration plans including soliciting bids from timber companies to log the damaged trees.

Logging already is leading to clashes over the restoration plan.

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