The fire damage at Bartley Ranch Regional Park has kept popular walking and jogging trails there closed for months. But now, a big step toward re-building is complete, with the opening of one of the most popular trails at the park. Part of the Ranch Loop Trail is now open to the public.
Bartley Ranch is more than just trails, it's a part of Reno history. The park is a snapshot of what much of our area used to look like and volunteers want to preserve that feel, despite the damage from the Caughlin Fire last November. Already, several groups have come out to build fences and rebuild a foot bridge. And there are signs that nature is coming back to life. Birds are back, and some new growth is starting to emerge.
When the Caughlin Fire swept through, burning nearly everything in its path, neighbors were shocked to see how much damage the park suffered. Ten year-old Annaka Jahn was sad and scared.
"I was afraid the whole place was going to burn down," she told us. "But I'm happy that I've seen some of the plants coming back and growing again."
Her father, Loren Jahn has been a volunteer with the park since 1990.
"This is one of the last, what I call 'vista parks', where you can actually come out and see open spaces," he said.
Indeed, the park is a memory of what most of the ranching community used to look like, and has been preserved for future generations.
"You had fields of alfalfa, cows, horses," said the elder Jahn. "This is one of the last places in the Truckee Meadows where you can still come, picnic, walk the trails and still see that."
It will take lots of patience and hard work to restore the park. But volunteers and park staff are giving Mother Nature a helping hand. Concrete rails have been put in along Lakeside on Windy Hill to catch falling debris, and all 28 acres have been treated with herbicide to control noxious weeds.
There's much more to come says District Ranger Colleen Barnum.
"We are going to do a planting project and a call for volunteers in late April. We have about 80 shrubs and grasses and 25 trees that burned and are covered by insurance. And those will have to be replanted. So we will do a big call for volunteers for that."
Annaka Jahn says she wants to help.
"I've grown up here and I want to see it grow again. I really care about it," she explained.
If you'd like to help, contact the Washoe County regional parks and open space volunteer coordinator Denise Evans at 823-6525.
The parks department says several groups have already helped and they want to thank all those who have donated their time and money so far.