East Bay News

Mount Diablo State Park reopens after Morgan Fire

Monday, September 16, 2013

For the first time in more than a week, Mount Diablo State Park reopened to visitors. The Morgan Fire charred more than 3,000 acres, mostly inside the state park.

The Muir picnic area was one of several areas that were heavily damaged in the fire. It is one of the four picnic areas that are located just below the summit on the south side of the mountain.

A fair amount of repair work will be needed on the picnic tables, but the main focus is on putting back the vegetation that all those firefighters had to destroy at the height of the fire.

"When you get above junction a little ways, a couple of curves, you're going to see the fire area," Mount Diablo State Park official Dave Matthews said.

While visitors got their first glimpse of the burned out section near the summit of Mount Diablo, Cal Fire crews were hard at work, restoring what their firefighting efforts had damaged.

"Where the bulldozers had to cut fire line to and encircle the fire line, that can get washed away by the rains. So, what we do is we literally take the vegetation that was pushed out of the way and in some area we chip it, other areas we chop it up and we put it back and try to repair the damage," Cal Fire official Matt Streck said.

The fire breaks that bulldozers cut at the height of the Morgan Fire have left wide swaths of dirt. Part of the restoration process involves putting the brush back where it came from.

As for the areas where the fire destroyed everything in its path, California State Parks has a team of scientists on the mountain assessing how those areas will fare once the rains begin.

"Well of course heavy rains can cause erosion, so we'll be monitoring that. But during the restoration work, what we're doing with Cal Fire right now helps reduce those opportunities for erosion," Matthews said.

"You come back in a year or two and you'll never be able to tell this was here," Streck said.

Despite the fire damage, a steady stream of visitors headed up the mountain out of curiosity.

"I saw the smoke. I mean it looked like there was a volcano erupting up here, but from here, it doesn't look that bad," mountain biker Bruce Bilodeau said.

Four picnic areas near the top of the mountain are closed until repairs can be made. No camping will be allowed until mid-week due to a limited water supply.

The fire began on Sept. 8. Officials say it was sparked by target shooting. More than 75 homes were evacuated at one point.

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mount diablo, fire, cal fire, clayton, evacuation, animal, animals in peril, east bay news, laura anthony
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