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Whitewater Preserve seeks public’s help to restore burn area

WHITEWATER SIGN

WHITEWATER, Calif. - Conservancy officials at Whitewater Preserve are seeing help to restore parts of the area that were burned by the Water Fire in August.

"It did burn much of our wetlands, which is a very unique habitat-- multiple species of endangered birds that we look after," assistant manager Lucas Wilgers with Whitewater Preserve said.

The fire broke out on August 2nd and burned 52 acres. Fire officials continue to investigate the cause of the blaze.

Parts of the popular outdoor attraction have been left in shambles, including bare trees that have been blackened and stripped of their leaves.

"Luckily we didn't lose buildings, but we did lose some of our park infrastructure. A lot of water infrastructure was damaged-- some of our railings and fences around the ponds," Wilgers said.

One of the preserve's oldest Cottonwood Trees has been taped off and will likely have to be cut down to its trunk.

"We have a unique opportunity now that the fire has come through, we can go back in and potentially make it over the next 5-10 years better than it even was beforehand," said Wilgers.

Wilgers said despite the damage, they are now looking to create new trails and reseed new trees. The efforts will be part of a restoration program that they are hoping to build upon from the public's support and donations.

"That money is going straight to rebuilding trails, supplying volunteers when we have them, to acquiring plants and seeds and rebuilding this place."

Conservancy officials have seen more animals pushed toward the preserve, and they believe it's because of the Apple Fire that burned nearby and destroyed habitats in the San Bernardino National Forest.

"We’re looking forward to not only have the community be part of the restoration, we hope to have people put plants in the ground, rebuild some of these trails, and teach future generations- now that we have a unique spot to teach them about- what fire does to wetlands and habitats," said Wilgers.

New plant life has already sprouted amidst the charred brush. Conservancy officials are working to keep the burn area from being overrun with weeds and invasive plants.

"We’ve been gathering resources, getting some funding on finding resources where we can get seeds, stock and live plants that we can start putting in the ground," said Wilgers.

As of Sunday the conservancy reached $8,700 of its $200,000 goal. If you would like to donate, visit the website below.

https://getinvolved.wildlandsconservancy.org/campaign/help-restore-whitewater-preserve-from-the-water-fire/c297131

Conservancy officials said the public could monitor the status of the site, and when it opens by visiting their Facebook page.

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.

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