VENTANA WILDERNESS RANCH & EXPEDITIONS

Photographs of the Tassajara Fire, September-November, 1999





FIRE!

In the Fall of 1999, fire came to the wilderness.
The following photographs were taken shortly afterward.

The huge pine known as the Huggin' Tree was scorched at the base but otherwise undamaged. The grass and brush surrounding it was partially cleared.

Pine Valley, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.


The deer were bounding like blown leaves
Under the smoke in front of the roaring wave of the brush fire;
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught.
Beauty is not always lovely; and when I returned
Down the black slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine,
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in the folded storms of his shoulders.
He had come from far off for the good hunting
With fire for his beater to drive the game; the sky was merciless
Blue, and the hills merciless black,
The sombre-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them.
I thought, painfully, but the whole mind,
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.

Fire on the Hills
Robinson Jeffers, 1932



The Tassajara Fire (Fall of 1999) burned through the northern Los Padres National Forest, traditional home to the Esselen Tribe, for over two months. As a result, the forest was closed. The Esselen Tribe's traditional businesses of trail rides, packtrips, and expeditions into the wilderness, as well as traditional cultural uses of the area, were temporarily curtailed.

The forest, though closed, was not devastated. The following photographs, taken on November 13-14, 1999, show areas that burned, but they also show many areas which were not affected. Most of the burning just cleared away brush, a traditional Native American cultural practice for thousands of years. In a few areas the brush and deadwood were thick enough, or the fire was fanned by winds, and some of the larger trees were lost.

Overall, as these photographs show, the forest was not devastated. New growth soon returned, thanks to several gentle rains. Photographs of the new growth are featured on the next page.


Photographs by Trudy Haversat and Gary S. Breschini.
Copyright 1999 by T. Haversat and G.S. Breschini. All rights reserved.

Pine Ridge, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.
A Tunnel in the Brush Is Finally Opened Up.
Pine Ridge Trail, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.
Trail Through Pine Valley, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.
Pine Ridge, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.
Fire Damage on the Pine Ridge Trail, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.
From the Pine Ridge Trail, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.
Pine Ridge, Ventana Wilderness, November 13-14, 1999.

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