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What Burned?

Vermilion Grove, East Shore, Caples Lake (10/5/20) Philip Reedy

With 1,179,480 acres consumed by the Caldor and Dixie fires and all national forests closed in California through Sept. 17, you might conclude that lots of fall color was damaged. Yes and no.

El Dorado County’s Caldor fire (southwest of Lake Tahoe) burned through Grizzly Flats, along Mormon Emigrant Trail and toward Lake Tahoe, but it stopped short of the Hope Valley, sparing it. Fire maps indicate it came close to scorching Vermilion Grove (seen above) on the east shore of Caples Lake (Hwy 88), but no on-scene assessment has been received.

In Plumas County (Northern Sierra) the Dixie fire destroyed much of the forest, particularly the trees edging Hwy 89 north to Lake Almanor, along the Indian Valley and it incinerated Greenville.

The prime fall color viewing locations of Spanish Creek and Oakland Camp lie within the Dixie fire’s burn area, though no report has been received as to whether they were scorched or not, as the forest there remains closed. Indian rhubarb are a perennial riparian plant that should recover quickly.

Plumas County color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb writes encouragingly, “As you travel to Lake Almanor you are subjected to the horrific images of fire but once there it isn’t visible anymore.Lake Almanor will continue to be a hub of tourism in the area, as Chester made it through pretty unscathed.The Eastern parts of Plumas are in pretty good condition considering all that we’ve been through.”

Black oak, CA-89, Crescent Mills (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Plumas County color spotter Michael Beatley reports that scenes like that above are gone. He says it’s, “Heartbreaking and heart wrenching to see so many of my favorite places gone. Rich Bar and the historic graveyard, gone. Indian Falls by the ancient maple tree I shot last year, gone. Indian Valley mountain sides blackened. Blessings are that Bucks Lake, Meadow Valley and Quincy were saved.”

While the Caldor and Dixie fires consumed vast areas of forest including several beautiful areas, numerous prime fall color viewing locations were not singed and there’s lots remaining to be enjoyed at Lake Almanor, one of California’s hidden gems.

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