Tamarack Fire clean-up of Turtle Rock Park complete

A truck that was parked along Highway 89 near the entrance to Turtle Rock Park was destroyed in the Tamarack Fire on Saturday night.

A truck that was parked along Highway 89 near the entrance to Turtle Rock Park was destroyed in the Tamarack Fire on Saturday night.
JT Humphrey | Special to The R-C

The remnants of the Tamarack Fire — burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil — have been cleared from structures in Turtle Rock Park and on four other Alpine County properties participating in the state's Consolidated Debris Removal Program, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, announced today.

Additional work on the park and the three other properties is needed before the they are returned to county officials for the start of the permitting and rebuilding process.

"We recognize that Turtle Rock Park is important to residents of Markleeville and Alpine County and is an important tourist attraction," said Cal OES Deputy Director of Recovery Ryan Buras. "We also recognize that the other four property owners want to begin the reconstruction process as soon as possible. We are committed to completing all work as thoroughly and quickly as possible."

In total, state crews removed over 300 tons of debris from the park.

"The Tamarack Fire has fundamentally altered the landscape in Eastern Alpine County," said Alpine County Administrative Officer Nichole Williamson. "At a time of great challenge we are lucky to have the CalOES team assisting us in the recovery process. Every acre lost has a profound impact on our way of life and community. We remain optimistic about the future of our county and we are grateful for the comprehensive support CalOES has provided us during these challenging times.”

Because structural fire debris can contain toxins such as lead and arsenic, crews hauled all debris from Turtle Rock Park approximately 130 miles to the Forward Landfill in Manteca, CA, which is approved by the State Water Board to receive disaster waste. Metal and concrete waste from the park was recycled, helping to save limited landfill space and allowing the material to be beneficially reused. Accessing the Tamarack Fire area required travelling through the neighboring Caldor Fire footprint presented additional challenges, as Caltrans and other partners continue with major repairs to the Highway 50 corridor.

Although the completion of structural debris removal from Turtle Rock Park represents a major accomplishment, more work remains. In the next major phase of recovery, Cal OES and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) will carefully assess and remove hazard trees that pose a risk to park visitors. Preliminary estimates suggest that several thousand trees were severely damaged by the Tamarack Fire, and will need to be removed as part of the overall restoration effort. Additionally, assessments and oversight by trained biologists, archaeologists, and foresters will be required to ensure the natural environment is protected throughout the cleanup process. Cal OES and CalRecycle are uniquely qualified to perform this work, having recently finished removing over 22,000 hazard trees from Big Basin Redwood State Park following the devastating 2020 CZU Complex..

The Consolidated Debris Removal Program also removed debris from several destroyed structures at Grover Hot Springs State Park in Alpine County, in coordination with California State Parks.

More than 1,500 affected property owners in Alpine, El Dorado, Lake, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity have signed up for the program. Participating property owners incur no direct costs. The Program is also now available to property owners with losses from the Hopkins Fire in Mendocino County, the Washington Fire in Tuolumne County, the Windy Fire in Tulare County, and the French Fire in Kern County. Property owners should speak with their county government to learn more about the program.

Property owners opt into the program by submitting a Right-of-Entry form (ROE) to their county, which allows the state to begin work on their property and incur no direct costs for the removal of burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil from their properties.

Interested homeowners can find more information about the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program, including contacts and county-specific ROE forms here.


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