Those hoping to experience the iconic redwood trees at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California are going to have to wait.
The California State Parks Department confirmed to USA TODAY in a statement on Friday that the park is expected to remain closed to the public for at least a year after wildfires caused extensive damage, destroying its historic headquarters, lodge, ranger station, campground facilities and forestland.
According to the department, many of the park’s trees remain unstable and must undergo stress testing for winter storms, wind, soil erosion and possible flooding in burned areas.
The department added that it is still assessing the fire damage and anticipates a long recovery.
According to an Aug. 28 press release from the department, two of the park’s largest redwood trees, called the Mother and Father of the Forest, were affected by the fires, but remain generally healthy. The Auto Tree, known for its large hole in the center, sustained moderate to extensive damage, but also still stands.
Fire burns in the hollow of an old-growth redwood tree in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Calif., on Aug. 24.
The release also noted that old-growth redwoods have experienced fires many times over the centuries and that mature coast redwoods’ thick bark and chemical composition make them highly resistant to fires.
Though younger redwoods that have not developed mature bark are more vulnerable, all redwoods are able to re-sprout from their roots or unsprouted buds covering the tree, and even trees that appear totally burned can fully recover over time, the release added.
The CZU Lightning Complex fire, which is responsible for the park’s damage, has consumed more than 85,000 acres and is only 48% contained as of Friday, burning south of San Francisco near Santa Cruz.
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Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest state park, preserving more than 18,000 acres. Its giant coast redwoods, which range from 1,000 to 2,500 years old, have drawn tourists and nature enthusiasts from around the world. The park says about 250,000 visitors come to the park every year, and millions have walked the Redwood Trail.
“These trees are amazing,” Mark Finney, a research forester with the U.S. Forest Service in Montana who studied the redwoods as a graduate student at UC Berkeley told the San Jose Mercury News. “Redwoods are an ancient lineage. There are fossils of them from tens of millions of years ago. It’s not the same kind of creature as our other trees. They have lived through a lot.”
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Contributing: Ryan W. Miller
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Big Basin Redwoods State Park expects to close for year after fires