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Parks, Trails Affected By Thomas Fire Slowly Open

Plants begin to regrow on Luci’s Trail in Ojai.

It’s been just over three months since California’s Thomas Fire incinerated much of Ventura County’s verdant landscape, forcing beloved hiking trails and parks to close.

Now, after several bouts of rain and concerted cleanup efforts by government and community organizations as well as volunteers, green leaves are starting to sprout from the ashes and several, but not all, trails and parks are again open to the public, according to the VC Star.

Steckel Park in Santa Paula — close to where the Thomas Fire started — is fully open on the county-run side, including an aviary with around 120 birds, and a campground, said Ventura County Parks Director Ron Van Dyck. The part of the park operated as a private campground by Ventura Ranch Kampgrounds of America (KOA) did suffer burn damage to some cabins and an office area and is only partially operational, he said.

“We were somewhat surprised,” Van Dyck said. The county “side of the park had no damage, and yet the other side of the park had sustained damage, and the other side of the street sustained damage. So the fire bounced around there quite a bit.”

Thankfully, he said, none of the aviary’s birds perished in the fire.

County-operated Dennison Park in Ojai is also open, along with Toland Park in Santa Paula. Dennison Park sustained minor burn damage, and the undeveloped upper section of Toland Park burned, Van Dyck said.

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