What & Why
On October 8, 2017, the North Bay fires started which eventually killed more than 40 people, destroyed over 6,000 structures in Sonoma County, and burned nearly 2,600 acres of Sonoma County Regional Parks. The fires burned for many days during which time tens of thousands of people across the County were evacuated or displaced from their homes. Since the 2017 fires, each year the County continues to be plagued by fire. In 2020, the Glass Fire devastated Hood Mountain Park & Preserve again.
Nearly 1,700 acres or 50% of Hood Mountain Park and Preserve burned in 2017. The 35-foot long Trail Bridge on the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail burned, as did the culvert at Pond Trail. Trails and roads suffered damage from fallen trees and vegetation, rockslides, and gaping holes left by burned out tree trunks and roots. Repair and improvements to the park were recently completed when the Glass Fire roared through the Park & Preserve on September 27, 2020.
The Glass Fire affected approximately 80% of the park. It consumed most of the vegetation on the northwest side. Many trees on the southeast side of the park that survived the 2017 fires, suffered additional damage in the Glass Fire. A large culvert on the main through road trail was vaporized. It was the first item that was quickly replaced to ensure safe access for all emergency and repair crews. Additionally, several structures in the backcountry were lost, and Azalea Creek Camp and its infrastructure were consumed by the fire. Many wood walls and steps on trails were consumed or severely damaged. The large retaining wall on the Los Alamos entry road, constructed after the road slide from the large winter storm in early 2006, was significantly damaged, and that entry will be closed until repairs are complete.
Regional Park staff has focused on removing fallen and hazard trees along Hood Trail from Los Alamos Road entry to Pythian Road entry. Providing a safe road-route is essential to complete cleanup and repair in the backcountry, for accessing the many trails still in need of cleanup and repair, and for all emergency access needs. Engineering has begun for repair of the Los Alamos Road retaining wall with hope to construct repairs late 2021. Removal of burned buildings, vehicles and other hazard materials is well underway, and contract work is being scheduled for cleanup removal during the summer of 2021.
Sections of the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail from the Pythian Trailhead to the top of the Lawson Trail opened for public use on June 1, 2021, followed by the Nattkemper Trail from Sugar Loaf State Park to Gunsight rock. Contract work is underway to repair retaining walls along Upper and Lower Johnson Ridge Trails.
Complete engineering for the damaged retaining wall on Los Alamos entry road, and publicly bid repair work in late summer 2021. Continue felling trees, chipping material, and clearing vegetation and debris from Alder Glen, Summit, Santa Rosa Creek, and Hood Trails through summer and fall of 2021. Once clearing is complete, replacement of footbridges/puncheons, steps, and retaining walls as well as trail-alignment improvements will begin, working toward completion in 2022.
How can the Public help in the repair of the Parks?
- Look for opportunities to volunteer for the Trail workdays.
- Help by respecting trail closures. Trails are closed for the safety of the public. New hazards may be identified as work crews continue to clear downed trees with tractors and chain saws.
- Do not make more work for park staff. Trail users exacerbate erosion problems by using closed trails, which increases work for park staff when new routes are created to move around fallen trees and other debris.