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Campers Mourn Loss of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp; Camp Tawonga Saves Torah (Holocaust Era)
NBC Bay Area ^ | Monday, Aug 26, 2013 | Lisa Fernandez

Posted on 08/26/2013 3:48:47 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Bay Area campers began mourning the loss of a Berkeley institution on Monday, after finding out their beloved Tuolumne Family Camp was destroyed by the Rim Fire outside Yosemite National Park.

But at a nearby Jewish camp, the community was thankful that a Holocaust-era Torah was saved and returned to its San Francisco office.

Details weren't immediately clear of exactly what time the fire – raging since Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest – demolished the Berkeley-run camp on Sunday. Each summer since 1992, campers have been flocking to the family-friendly setting where tie-dying, hiking and outdoor adventures are central components of the camp.

"We are still evaluating what are next steps are," Berkeley city spokesman Matthai Chakko said Monday. "We haven't seen the damage ourselves, but yes, it was mostly destroyed."

Chakko was not ready to put a pricetag on how much the loss would cost the city, but a family of four, with two children, could pay as much as $2,500 for seven days to stay there. Last year, 4,300 campers attended.

The U.S. Forest Service confirmed the camp, on Harden Flat, was overcome by fire, now the size of the city of Chicago. As of Monday morning, the fire had charred 149,000 acres and ranked 13 in California's history for wildfire size.

"I'm just so sad on so many levels," said Janice Lin of Berkeley, who has been going to Berkeley Tuolumne Camp with her children for years, including this summer. She spent the evening looking at photographs from her years at camp, fishing and swimming in the wildnerness, now a black, charred mess.

Ari and Rachael Nava of Santa Cruz on Sunday night created the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp Photo Memorial, dedicated to the "years of joy and happiness that it has provided to generations of campers." The couple met at Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp when they were teenagers and are part of a family that has attended the camp for more than five decades.

MORE: Rim Fire Chars 225 Square Miles, Destroys Berkeley Tuolumne Camp

Nearby, Camp Tawonga suffered one structure fire over the weekend. On the camp's Facebook page, directors said that one staff building had burned, but as of Monday morning, there were no new reports of damage.

The camp was thrilled to report that one of its counselors, Sam Quintana, was able to retrieve the Jewish holy book, or the Torah, on Friday and bring it to safety at the camp's San Francisco headquarters.

The Torah traveled from Evergreen Lodge near the Rim Fire, to a spot in Manteca, and then finally to the camp office after a ride on BART.

The Torah is a remnant from the Holocaust. It was originally saved from a small Czech village during World War II.

"We're so thrilled it is safe," Camp Tawonga director Jamie Simon-Harris told NBC Bay Area on Monday.

As far as Simon knows, the rest of the camp property is safe, because she hasn't heard otherwise.

"But we just don't know at this point," she said. "We've been told that the building protection was successful."

MORE: Rim Fire Incident Command Page Camp Tawonga suffered another loss this summer. On July 3, 20-year-old counselor Annais Rittenberg died after a black oak snapped and fell on top of her.

As of Sunday night, the Friends of San Francisco's Camp Mather said their camp was safe, as was San Jose Camp and Evergreen Lodge. However, the City of San Jose announced Monday its Family Camp at Yosemite will be closed for the rest of the season due to safety concerns related to the fire.

Editor's Note: Lisa Fernandez attended Berkeley Tuolumne Camp and has children who attend Camp Tawonga. Her nephew and niece started the photo memorial page on Facebook.

TOPICS: Outdoors; Religion

1 posted on 08/26/2013 3:48:47 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

I hate wildfires.

Almost as much as I hate earthquakes.

2 posted on 08/26/2013 3:49:36 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: nickcarraway

Whole bunch of great campsites up in that area.

3 posted on 08/26/2013 3:55:21 PM PDT by bubbacluck (America 180)
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To: BenLurkin

It is my understanding that wildfires are necessary to the ecosystem. For example, wildfires are essential to the reproduction of certain redwoods. Don’t that beat all?

4 posted on 08/26/2013 3:58:38 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

I don’t think redwoods grow that far inland. They need coastal fog. And to be left seriously alone for hundreds of years. Thousands.

5 posted on 08/26/2013 4:44:34 PM PDT by Veto! (Opinions freely expressed as advice)
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To: nickcarraway

We were in Yellowstone some 10 years or so after the huge fire there. There were vast areas where young lodgepole pines were springing up.


How come lodgepole pine cones like fire so much?

When lodgepole pines grow, especially in areas that are prone to forest fires, their cones are tightly sealed. A layer of resin and woody tissue sticks the cones’ scales together. The seeds are locked in tight, and the cones can’t open unless they’re exposed to VERY high temperatures–the type of temperatures that fire provides.

“Serotinous” is a scientific term for a seed that requires an environmental trigger in order to be released. For the lodgepole pine, that trigger is heat. And since big fires don’t come along very often, those well sealed pine cones have to be extremely patient. They can hang out on the tree branches for several years waiting for enough heat to open them up!

Years of waiting

So, if multiple years’ worth of cones can accumulate, then a lot of new pine trees sure must sprout up after a fire.

Lodgepole pines are famous for colonizing post fire landscapes. The seeds love the carbon rich soil that fire leaves behind, and seedlings pop up almost immediately. They grow into dense stands of trees, and before you know it, there’s a whole new crop of serotinous cones waiting in anticipation for the next fire to blaze through.

6 posted on 08/26/2013 5:11:05 PM PDT by randita
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To: nickcarraway

Wonder if the Tuolomne and White Wolf tent cabin areas along 120 have been affected.

7 posted on 08/26/2013 5:11:55 PM PDT by randita
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To: randita

Here’s a pretty good link that is updated every 6 hours with where the burning is happening.

8 posted on 08/26/2013 5:16:19 PM PDT by bubbacluck (America 180)
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To: randita

It doesn’t appear to be even close to the White Wolf area.

9 posted on 08/26/2013 5:18:07 PM PDT by bubbacluck (America 180)
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To: Veto!

You are referring to coastal redwoods, aka sequoia. The so-called, “Giant Sequoia,” grow exclusively on the western side of the Sierra Nevada.

10 posted on 08/26/2013 5:25:40 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: randita

How come lodgepole pine cones like fire so much?”

Ask God. Everything was designed by Him.

11 posted on 08/26/2013 6:42:32 PM PDT by Grams A (The Sun will rise in the East in the morning and God is still on his throne.)
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