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CZU Anniversary

One Year After the CZU Fire

Restoring Redwoods at Big Basin
and in the Santa Cruz Mountains

On August 16, 2020 a climate-fueled-weather event sparked the most catastrophic fire ever recorded in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Over the next month, fire raged through the region impacting lives, communities, parks, and some of the most ancient and beloved remaining coast redwood forests in the world. A year later, we look back at the CZU Fire, the response and recovery that followed, and how we can best plan and prepare for what lies ahead. You can also join California State Parks with Reimagining Big Basin.

photo by Ian Bornarth.

A Big Fire in Big Basin

photo by Inklein.

On August 16th last year an unprecedented dry lightning storm struck the Santa Cruz Mountains igniting fires in Big Basin and Butano State Parks to the north, and in the south along the border of San Vicente Redwoods and Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument. The fires in Big Basin grew to 40,000 acres overnight, engulfing California’s oldest state park and it’s beloved, ancient coast redwood trees.

Response and Recovery

photo by Ian Bornarth.

Before last year’s CZU fire was under control, response efforts began. We are extremely grateful for your support to help Big Basin recover from the fire. As recovery work got underway at State Parks, we redoubled our efforts to care for our lands. Although a staggering 99% of the lands we manage burned, stewardship and restoration is helping forest recovery and will further protect nearby communities. You can watch as our Natural Resource Manager Beatrix Jimenez and Photographer Ian Bornarth revisit one of our forests just months after flames tore across the landscape. And although most redwoods will survive, it will be decades before most of the worst-hit trees look like themselves again.

Expand the topics below to read on about the response and recovery that followed the CZU fire.

A Future With Fire

photo by D. Mulvaney.

Despite the CZU fire’s containment on September 22nd, hot spots still smoulder today. Recovery work from last year’s fire continues and we are preparing forests for a future of more frequent fires by blending the latest science with the best practices of the past, so redwoods and wildlife can thrive. We believe Big Basin can be reimagined to honor its historic past and built to last for the future—planned for fire, coexisting with nature and people, and safe and welcoming for everyone. With your help, our forests can recover, Big Basin can be reimagined, and we can protect more resilient redwoods to grow our parks for people and wildlife to enjoy for generations to come.

Expand the topics below to read more about how we can best plan and prepare for what lies ahead.

How to Help

photo by D. Nguyen.

Just as we hope the redwood forests can be enjoyed by everyone, there is a way everyone can help to protect them and we can’t do it without you. Support can come in many different ways and they all help to save the forests forever. You can also join California State Parks with Reimagining Big Basin.


Shape the parks of tomorrow by donating to  protect more redwood forests or the Future of Big Basin Fund.


Share your Big Basin memory in the Santa Cruz Mountains Photo Contest to celebrate its past as we imagine its future.


Find volunteer opportunities to help redwood forests recover and thrive with Sempervirens Fund or State Parks.

Learn More

Join us for our free upcoming Under the Redwoods webinars as we discuss Big Basin one year after the CZU fire.

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