Nestled in the splendor of Northern California, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area boasts far more than the pristine waters of Whiskeytown Lake that it's so well-known for. Spanning a vast 42,000 acres, this natural playground invites adventurers and history buffs alike to discover its cascading waterfalls, traverse its undulating mountain trails, delve into the riveting tales of the California Gold Rush, and witness the remarkable rebirth of nature following wildfire—a diverse array of experiences all in one remarkable destination.
I was fortunate to have visited Whiskeytown in May of 2018 while visiting nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park. I'm glad I did, as just two months later, the Carr Fire would forever change the landscape...
Carr Fire 2018
During a record-tying heat wave in late July of 2018 in which daytime highs hit 109 degrees Fahrenheit on several straight days, the Carr Fire began inside Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. There was an immediate and aggressive response by emergency services personnel from the National Park Service, CalFire, U.S. Forest Service, and other important partners.
Photo Credit: CalFire
Nevertheless, the fire quickly spread due to extreme heat, extreme wind, extreme dryness, and other factors. The fire ultimately grew to 229,651 acres and spread into nearby communities. Three firefighters died, four civilians died, and over 1,000 homes and buildings were destroyed. With over 97 percent of Whiskeytown burned and over 100 structures within the park destroyed, the Carr Fire was the most destructive fire in the history of the National Park System.
While the entirety of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area was initially closed, park staff, partners, and contractors have made significant headway in rebuilding infrastructure and reopening much of the park. Although these reopening and rebuilding tasks will be ongoing for years, rest assured that one day, all of the park will be back open - and Whiskeytown will be better than ever.
About the Artist
Photographer and graphic artist Rob Decker studied photography with Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park during the summer of 1979. The experience solidified his love of photography and our National Parks. Now he is on a journey to photograph and create iconic WPA-style posters of all our national parks as we celebrate the next 100 years of the National Park Service.
"I feel that it’s important to protect America’s special places, and to connect people with nature. And it’s up to all of us to pitch in. Perhaps more importantly, we need to inspire the next generation of park stewards. I’m trying to make a difference by giving back to the amazing organizations that support our National Parks. I donate 10% of annual profits, so when you buy one of these original works, you're helping these trusts, conservancies and associations, too."
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