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Sunset on Shuteye Peak. Photo by Steve Montalto, Visit Yosemite Madera County.

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association Hosts Saturday Tour to Creek Fire Areas

Heading up Shuteye Peak, iconic views along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. Photo by Steve Montalto – Visit Yosemite Madera County

NORTH FORK–The Creek Fire, which began in the area of Shaver Lake during late afternoon of September 4, 2020, roared through much of the Sierra National Forest high country including areas of Big Creek, Huntington Lake, Shaver Lake, Mammoth Pool, San Joaquin River Canyon before being declared 100 per cent contained on December 24, 2020.

For those wanting to observe the current state of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, the Sierra Scenic Byway Association has organized a tour into parts of the fire acreage—to view the current status and the stages of recovery. The caravan/carpooling tour takes place on Saturday, October 16, 2021. The tour is free. If you wish to participate, please contact dwaltner@netptc.net or rhonda@yosemitethisyear.com to advise that you plan to join. Leaders anticipate returning to the post office by approximately 2 pm.

Per current plans, retired USFS Division Chief of the Bass Lake Ranger District Mark Smith will lead the group and lends his insights and experience to explain what happened, in a fact-based presentation. Mark served as section chief in the early days of the fire and has been credited with being instrumental in directing fire resources during those first days, under incredibly difficult circumstances.

During the tour Mark will discuss how the fire started and why it progressed the way it did. He will further discuss that the Creek Fire actually was two distinct fires which firefighters had to fight at the same time.

Redinger Overlook. Photo by Kim Lawson for Visit Yosemite Madera County

First stop on the journey will be the Redinger Overlook then participants will continue to Mammoth Pool Powerhouse and Mile High Overlook. The caravan will get to observe the newly opened vistas from Mile High of peaks and rock formations suddenly cleared of obstructing trees. Although much of the vegetation has been lost, Scenic Byway vice-president Doug Waltner affirms that the resulting views are awe-inspiring.

Mile High Overlook. Photo by Kim Lawson for Visit Yosemite Madera County.

Much remediation needs to be done along the Byway,  and the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association is prepared to undertake it with the amount of labor and resources at its disposal.  As an example, after the Forest Service planted about thirty trees in the Mile High area, Mike Nolen constructed basins at their bases to collect water needed for their survival. Mile High itself needs new signage and new benches.

The most urgent repairs include:

  1. Repair/rebuilding of the Norris Creek and Chiquito Creek Bridges
  2. Repair of the damage to the Nelder Grove Interpretation Center, much of which occurred during the major windstorm of January, 2021.
  3. Get campgrounds cleaned up and reopened
  4. Refurbish and maintain the rest stops along the Byway
  5. Clean up graffiti that has sprung up

Other recently completed projects of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway include installing signage and helping to establish the North Fork History Center at the old mill site.

Details of the tour, in brief:

  • When: Saturday, October 16, 2021
  • How: Carpool/Caravan
  • Time: 9:00 am to approximately 2:00 pm
  • Where: Meet at North Fork Post Office, 33173 Road 222, North Fork
  • Bring: Water, food and/or snacks, sweaters/jackets
  • Contact: dwaltner@netptc.net or rhonda@yosemitethisyear.com

More resources:

Watch Afterburn, a documentary produced by filmmaker Jeff Aiello.

Watch Outside Beyond the Lens, Season 2, Episode 8:  Sierra Scenic Byway & Creek Fire Impact

Stay tuned for upcoming articles on the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway articles:  The State of Nelder Grove, Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Holds Membership meeting, both coming soon.

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