Rim Fire Audio Tour

In the wake of the third largest wildfire in California’s history, Stanislaus National Forest is rising from the ashes. Join us on our road to recovery and learn how mega-fires are impacting landscapes across the west.


 


 

The Rim Fire is a compelling story about a wildland fire that blazed through Stanislaus National Forest in August of 2013. It burned 55 percent of the Groveland Ranger District and had a lasting impact on many natural resources including soils, watersheds, tree cover and wildlife. It also disrupted neighboring communities, causing several towns to evacuate as the fire approached.

 

In total, it consumed 257,314 acres of land. Meanwhile, it spewed a mushroom cloud of smoke into the mid-west; blistered paint off of Highway 120; threatened the water supply for San Francisco; consumed 98 outbuildings and 11 homes and brought world-wide attention on the need to improve forest health across the west.

 

To hear the story of the Rim Fire, download these free mp3 files to enjoy on your drive. The 11 stop tour, which begins from the Groveland Ranger District Office, is marked with numbered posts. An interpretive flyer can also be obtained at the Ranger Station to guide you along the way.

The Stanislaus National Forest thanks Susan Valot for her efforts to capture the voices and sounds of the Rim Fire in the production of this audio tour.

Download all audio files 150 MB zip file

 

Stop 1: Ranger StationJuly 20, 2015 Stop 1: Groveland Ranger Station. The Rim Fire brought natural resources, as well as the human part of the fire story, into sharp view on the Stanislaus National Forest. Picture by Dusty Vaughn. (02:00)

 

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Stop 2 Fire BehaviourJuly 20, 2015 Stop 2: Rim of the World Vista. A shift in the wind on the fire would have been tantamount to death. By looking over the firefighting memorials perched above this vast canyon, you can see there was a great deal at stake. Picture by Clint Gould. (05:30)

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Stop 3 Rainbow PoolJuly 20, 2015 Stop 3: Rainbow Pool. When steep slopes burn intensely, large swaths of trees and the surrounding vegetation are swept away, leaving barren watersheds at risk for costly sedimentation problems. Picture by Dusty Vaughn. (04:47)

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Stop 4 Berkeley Tuolumne CampJuly 20, 2015 Stop 4: Berkeley Tuolumne Camp. Residents of Berkeley have been building memories at their special use camp, on the Stanislaus, since 1922. When the camp burned in the Rim Fire, campers joined together to mourn their loss. Picture by Jerry Snyder (04:53)

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Stop 5 Carlon FallsJuly 20, 2015 Stop 5: Carlon Falls. Pine beetles aren’t targeting trees killed in the Rim Fire. They are selecting live, stressed, green trees as a better target and host for their young. (05:41)

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Stop 6 Salvage Timber OperationsJuly 20, 2015 Stop 6: Salvage Timber Operations. Nearly 100,000 acres burned under very hot conditions during the Rim Fire. The ghost-like forest of blackened trees left in the fire’s wake posed a significant safety hazard to travelers and forest workers alike. Picture by Keith Riggs. (05:46)

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Stop 7 Mather MeadowJuly 20, 2015 Stop 7: Mather Meadow.When meadows are endangered, the repercussions affect us all. That’s why the U.S. Forest Service is committed to ecologically restoring meadows on the Stanislaus. USDA Photo. (03:05)

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Stop 8 Mather Road OverlookJuly 20, 2015 Stop 8: Mather Road Overlook. The battle for water in California has a long history and as you look into this canyon, you can see some of the infrastructure that was put at risk during the fire, including the Lower Cherry Aqueduct. Photo by Jerry Snyder. (06:03)

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Stop 9: Incident Command SystemJuly 20, 2015 Stop 9: Incident Command System. Imagine the logistics involved in feeding the 5,000 people assigned to the Rim Fire. Photo by Paul Springs. (03:00)

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Stop 10: Spinning WheelJuly 20, 2015 Stop 10: Spinning Wheel. When you have a massive flaming front, it is not always possible to save every home. Fortunately, the  Rogge Ranch home was saved by Forest Service firefighters. Photo by Betsy Harden. (04:14)

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Stop 11: Feretti RoadJuly 20, 2015 Stop 11: Feretti Road. Fuel treatments buy firefighters a margin of safety. They were also responsible for saving several communities from burning to the ground during the Rim Fire. Photo by Morris Johnson. (07:06)

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The Fire Next Time from Filmmakers Collaborative SF on Vimeo.

 

In this 13-minute video, filmmakers Stephen Most and Kevin White examine environmental conditions leading up to the Rim Fire, which burned 257,314 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, in 2013. Drought, wide-spread insect infestations, a century of fire suppression activities and a changing climate are driving the mega-fire phenomenon into the open. Sixteen of the 20 largest wildfires within the contiguous United States have occurred within the last 14 years. The Rim Fire is just one recent example of the phenomenon.

 

A high profile fire such as this highlights the devastating impacts wildfires can have on communities, watersheds, wildlife and even carbon storage. Although unfortunate, large fires can also become excellent catalysts for producing change. To effect that change, degraded landscapes across California need to be restored. Scientists and land managers estimate that six to nine million acres of National Forest lands within the state need to be ecologically restored over the next 15 to 20 years, in order to revive ecosystem health and slow the spread of large, catastrophic wildfires.

 

Unless that change occurs, we will be waiting for "The Fire Next Time." To learn more, watch for the feature-length film MEGAFIRE at the Rim of the World.