ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — Finally, people are allowed back inside Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve after back-to-back wildfires burned nearly every acre.
He needed to see the new growth for himself. Nathan Gregory, the vice president and chief programs officer for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, hasn’t had many chances to just walk around and enjoy Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. The patch of land was closed off for about a year and a half after dual tragedies.
“So, in my experience in this landscape, it was the worst combination of fire events I’ve experienced so far,” said Gregory.
Within weeks of each other, the Silverado Fire and then the Bond Fire rolled through, leaving almost no acre unburned.
Gregory was home when the first fire started and there wasn’t much he could do, but Orange County Parks Operations Manager John Gump was busy evacuating nearby campgrounds.
“You know you’re doing your best to look out for public safety first, but it’s also hard to watch your facility burn,” said Gump.
Gump also helped guide firefighters as they drew containment lines.
New saplings and new structures replace what was lost.
Caring for beloved land feels pointless sometimes because no progress is ever enough. Mother nature makes it clear who’s really in charge.
“I’d be happier if we had more rain and a lot of these challenges we weren’t having to face cause the fire threat will continue regardless, so we have to stay vigilant,” said Gregory.
For the time being, the air is free of smoke, but it’s not free of worry.
Due to the fragile state of the land, public access is limited to certain days. Conservationists want to avoid prolonged crowding and ensure the nature preserve isn’t loved to death. You can find the calendar of events and register at letsgooutside.org.