Castle Fire field trip planned for Thursday

Thirty members of the public can join the field trip to the Castle Fire Ecological Restoration Project at Freeman Creek Grove, learn about restoration goals

PORTERVILLE – Most Tulare County residents lived through the Castle Fire, complete with weeks of smoke, haze and ash, last year. This Thursday, people can actually visit the burn site that consumed over 100,000 acres.

The National Park Service announced last week they will host a Castle Fire Ecological Restoration Project public field trip Thursday, June 17, to the Freeman Creek Grove, damaged during the 2020 Castle Fire.

The Castle Fire was ignited by lightning on Aug. 19, 2020 and burned more than 129,000 acres of the Sequoia National Forest. The recent drought, subsequent bark beetle outbreak, culminating in the Castle Fire, resulted in an extensive loss of vegetation.

According to Ecosystem Staff Officer Gretchen Fitzgerald, the visits are an opportunity to share information with the public and answer questions regarding the proposed project. The field trip within the Castle Fire Closure Area, scheduled for Thursday, June 17, is limited to 30 personal vehicles due to limited parking.

Forest officials will present proposed restoration projects at three locations within the giant sequoia grove during the field trip. The field trip will end at the Freeman Creek Trail Head parking area for a bring-your-own lunch and discussion.

Castle Fire Ecological Restoration Project goals include:

  • Improve the health of the remaining green forests (including giant sequoia groves) to promote forest resilience to drought and insect and disease outbreaks
  • Re-establish healthy and diverse forest conditions that provide wildlife habitat for a diverse assemblage of species, including special status species and old forest-dependent species
  • Maintain and improve functional watersheds and restore ecological integrity, including carbon sequestration
  • Remove excessive fuels created by fire-killed trees to establish fuel conditions that have a low risk for large, stand-replacing fires, reduce threats from wildland fires in the Wildland Urban Interface, and create safe working conditions to allow for reforestation activities

The field trip will also provide an opportunity to see the fire recovery activities that Cal Trans, Tulare County and Southern California Edison are currently completing.

Are you interested in joining the field trip? Send a request to the Forest Public Affairs Officer, Alicia Embrey, at [email protected]. The field trip is limited to the first 30 email requests received.

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