One of the burnt cabanas at the Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

One of the burnt cabanas at the Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

Rec area not likely to reopen soon

By TYLER GREEN
Daily Press Staff Writer

What once was a lush oasis teeming with life now resembles an arid, desolate, uninhabitable land. The fire that ripped through Last Chance Canyon, burning over 50,000 acres, left portions of the Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area smoldering and covered in ash.

Nearly all plant-life above the falls is charred and the spring now flows through a black valley where there is little to no escape from the blazing sun. The trail above the falls is covered in six inches of ash and the surrounding rock testifies to the intense heat that raced through the canyon. It appears as if the rocks were painted black, boiled and blistered until flakes of rock crumbled to the ground, revealing a white, naked core beneath a black roasted skin.

Sitting Bull Falls Site Manager Dennis Brockman replaces a damaged sprinkler head at the recreation area. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

Sitting Bull Falls Site Manager Dennis Brockman replaces a damaged sprinkler head at the recreation area. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

Below the falls, utility lines sway in the wind above the canyon floor where an entire utility pole incinerated; replacing it will likely be a struggle against the surrounding rugged terrain.

Charred rafters stretch across picnic tables inside one of the burnt cabanas at the recreation area. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

Charred rafters stretch across picnic tables inside one of the burnt cabanas at the recreation area. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

The majority of the picnic cabanas, parking area and facilities appeared to have been saved by a grassy sanctuary. Only a few cabanas, including one built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and the sprinkler system sustained major damage. The grass, still green, offered refuge to squirrels and lizards who amassed in numbers. Corn was strewn across the grounds to ensure the squirrels would not go hungry while they wait for the spring rains to arrive. … For the rest of the story, subscribe in print and on the web.