Updated 2:40 p.m. July 6: Hiking trails have reopened at Stebbins Cold Canyon Natural Reserve as firefighters make progress against the nearby County Fire.
"Stebbins and Quail Ridge are back to normal," said Shane Waddell, director of Quail Ridge Natural Reserve. "Still a bit stinky and ashy, but no threats."
Researchers who were evacuated from Quail Ridge over the weekend have been allowed to return, he said.
Cal Fire reported this morning that the County Fire had grown slightly to 88,375 acres and was 37 percent contained.
Backfires earlier this week slowed the County Fire’s advance toward three UC Davis natural reserves, and another defensive burn was planned for today (July 5). Firefighters were staging near McLaughlin Natural Reserve, preparing for a backfire on the north edge of the blaze that had grown to 86,000 acres with 30 percent containment.
Reserve director Catherine Koehler said this morning she and her staff were providing information to firefighters, helping to “familiarize them with the road systems on the reserve, surrounding public lands and various features of the landscape, so that they can develop effective strategies that don't harm the reserve's operations and implement effective fire suppression actions.”
McLaughlin isn’t considered threatened by the fire, and research is continuing this week, Koehler said.
Farther south, the fire has burned to the shores of Lake Berryessa, across the water from Quail Ridge Natural Reserve and near Stebbins Cold Canyon Natural Reserve. Stebbins remains closed to the public as a precaution and air quality in the area is poor, but director Shane Waddell said he’s optimistic.
“Cal Fire set backfires along Highway 128 between Cold Canyon and the fire area on Tuesday,” he said. “These appear to have been very successful.”
Highway 128 has been reopened, and staff at Stebbins hope to reopen hiking trails soon if conditions continue to improve.
- “Stebbins Closed, Other Reserves Take Fire Precautions” (July 3)
- “Reserve, Vet Med, Fire Crew Respond to Blaze” (July 2)