Frances Oliver <hummer52@...>
Bill & Kitty P. from the Santa Clara area recently travelled (on their way home) up Del Puerto Canyon and down thru the San Antonio Valley to check out how extensive the burn is. With their permission I am sharing an excerpt of their report.
Along the first (eastern) half of Del Puerto Canyon Rd. the fire stayed mostly on one side of the road with green trees and a creek opposing burned hillsides. At the large rock face area, we had ROCK WREN, AMERICAN KESTREL, and COMMON RAVEN. The devastation from the fires worsened as the canyon narrowed. But Frank Raines park is still there complete with its cute treehouse play structure. The fire reached up to it on all sides, but the park is okay. The western end of Del Puerto is more scorched. Most of the Bell's Sparrow hills of chemise are torched, with white spots where each bush incinerated. There were some patches that were spared and most of the homes and structures survived, even though the burn is right up to many of them, often from all sides. The Junction Bar and Grill is still standing and operating, which is a miracle considering the fires were right up to the building.
San Antonio Valley Rd west of the junction is mostly intact through the valley, which was great to see. We had a herd of Tule Elk, deer, cottontails, lots of squirrels and a decent showing of birds, except for zero Lewis's Woodpecker. However, once we started to gain elevation going west the fire damage increased. By 3,000' there was utter destruction with ridge after ridge in every direction denuded of all flora. Just before the summit, there were a few patches that were spared, but the summit itself is mostly burnt. Surprisingly, almost all of the buildings at Lick survived and we felt a sense of awe at the effort that must have been put forth by the firefighters to save it.
Coming down into Santa Clara Valley was a bit of a relief in that much of Grant Park was spared and the buildings survived. But near Lick, the canopy trees were cut back from either side of the road and rest in huge piles on the roadside. The cut trees were hastily hacked and brutally ugly. The fire burned right up to Smith Creek, where fire crews are staged in the field behind the CalFire station. But Smith Creek looked healthy and green, at least what we could see from the road. Twin Gate suffered a lot of grass fire damage but most of Hamilton Road down to Grant Ranch was spared from the fires. Grant Ranch itself looks like a military camp with the parking lots and roads fully occupied by PG&E trucks, equipment and workers.