Today, the Town of Paradise reclaimed a treasured community space and took a major step forward in rebuilding its community more than two years after the Camp Fire tore through the area. Survivors of the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history can once again return to Bille Park, a 56-acre community hub that is owned and operated by the Paradise Recreation and Park District.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), in coordination with various local, state, and federal agencies, announced the full reopening of the developed areas of the park after crews removed the last of the fire-damaged hazard trees that posed a threat to visitors.
“The State is incredibly proud of the work that has been done to reopen Bille Park to the Town of Paradise community,” said Cal OES Deputy Director Ryan Buras. “Removing the last of the remaining hazardous trees in this area is key in promoting healthy physical activity, opening the opportunity for more community engagement, and preserving the amazing amenities that this environment offers to the Town of Paradise.”
Immediately following the 2018 Camp Fire, Bille Park was closed to repair fire-ravaged facilities and remove the most immediate hazard trees in the developed areas of the park. In early 2019, the park partially reopened, however, additional work needed to be done as standing trees continued to decline and Paradise Recreation and Park District crews were unable to mitigate hazards on the hiking area of the park.
Bille Park’s steep terrain, unique environmental characteristics, and archeological assets called for the close coordination among key partners to develop a highly customized Hazard Tree Felling and Removal Plan to help protect worker safety, overcome technical challenges, minimize the environmental impact, and preserve cultural resources. Enjoyed by generations of Paradise residents, the removal of hazardous trees was just one more step in ensuring the community can return to this space and enjoy nature safely for years to come.
“Bille Park is a jewel in Paradise, we are so happy to see this piece of Paradise restored. The State’s Hazard Tree Removal Program has improved the safety of many properties in Paradise, and now Bille Park is safe for all of us to enjoy again,” stated Paradise Mayor Steve Crowder.
Over the past few months, Cal OES along with other partner agencies finalized the plan to remove the remaining hazard trees at Bille Park and other nearby properties. The key partners include the Paradise Recreation and Park District, the Town of Paradise, FEMA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Operations were conducted by contractors working under the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), including the State Assessment and Monitoring consultant (Arcadis) and the State Licensed Timber Operator, a joint venture of Sukut Construction, Odin Construction Solutions, P31 Enterprises, and J.W. Bamford (SOPB JV).
“This is a big step for our park and community, and we are grateful for the assistance in moving forward, said Paradise Recreation and Park District Manager Dan Efseaff. “Our citizens can return to a beautiful park—with now stunning views of the canyon. The finished product is a symbol of recovery for the Town of Paradise and surrounding communities.”
As a part of the plan, each tree deemed hazardous received an individual review by a Certified Arborist specifically trained in assessing hazard trees, and who was operating under the supervision of a California Registered Professional Forester, prior to being marked for removal. In total, there were over 500 trees that were assessed and identified as presenting a hazard to public infrastructure. This final stage of the Bille Park hazard tree removal was accomplished over the course of approximately three weeks, which began in late March 2021.
***PHOTOS AND LINKS***
Additional Photos of Bille Park following hazard tree removal work