Camp Berkeley Tuolumne’s nearly nine-year rebuilding process comes to an end this summer, when the beloved Sierra Nevada retreat welcomes families back in time to celebrate its centennial.
Founded in 1922 along the South Fork of the Tuolumne River just outside Yosemite National Park, the camp has been closed since the Rim Fire destroyed all of its major structures in 2013.
City officials and the public will come together to celebrate the reopening with a ribbon cutting on June 4, and family camps will begin the week of June 27. Space is still available and camp is open to everyone, although Berkeley residents get a discount on fees. .
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I visited the new Tuolumne camp with photographer Kelly Sullivan on a sunny day earlier this month for an article on how Berkeley’s beloved family camps are adapting to the threats posed by climate change, which contributes to aggravate and make more frequent the forest fires in the Sierra Nevada. and more destructive.
We saw the Tuolumne camp as the $54.7 million reconstruction project neared its final stages – workers were unpacking shipments of beds bound for new tent cabins and had just set up a check-in desk at the camp office. Liza McNulty, who oversaw the project as manager of the Berkeley Department of Parks Capital Improvement Program, told us about features such as accessible trails that now meander through the site, making it easier for disabled campers to get around, and its new fire safety. systems.
Fire hydrants and hook-up points now give firefighters access to 240,000 gallons of water stored in a huge tank on a nearby hill, while the new mess hall has a sprinkler system that covers everything, from the kitchen below its terrace. New structures must also comply with updated building codes requiring them to use more flame resistant materials. City officials say the goal is to give the camp a better chance of survival when – not if – it is once again threatened by a wildfire.
However, the most noticeable difference for most long-time campers will likely be the scenery they will find as they approach the site along Hardin Flat Road.
Once nestled in thick forest that made it virtually invisible to the outside world, the camp is now exposed. Crews had to remove hundreds of burnt and dead trees from inside the site, and although volunteers planted thousands of saplings, they fell far short of shading tent cabins and walkways. This part of the Stanislaus National Forest is still in the early stages of its recovery from the Rim Fire, and more burned trees are sticking out of the hills around the camp in all directions.
The city of Berkeley has so far spent $2.7 million in local funding on the reconstruction project and has received $1 million from state and federal sources. The rest of the project’s budget, just over $50 million, came from insurance.
Photos by Kelly Sullivan