Federal fire officials say the cost of fighting the Rim Fire that has burned across nearly 400 square miles in and around Yosemite National Park has reached $100 million, and the Tuolumne River Trust is seeking aid to repair the charred forest and river beds.
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday the cost has been run up as firefighters have struggled in hot and very dry conditions since the blaze erupted on Aug. 17. It is now 80 percent contained, and which authorities say the blaze was caused by a hunter's campfire. It is now considered California's third largest wildfire in state history.
As it ripped through natural landscape, the fire destroyed nearly a dozen homes and almost 100 outbuildings. Which is why on Tuesday, Eric Wesselman, executive director of the Tuolumne River Trust in San Francisco, officially launched the "Rim Fire Recovery Campaign."
He and his nonprofit called on Congress to commit to funding the restoration of the burned out river canyon, destroying habitats for wildlife and leaving unstable, dead trees and bare soil primed for erosion.
Wesselman said it might cost "tens of millions" of dollars to restore what's been destroyed by fire.
“96 percent of the Rim Fire has burned in the Tuolumne River Watershed causing widespread damage to an incredibly special place that millions of people depend on and enjoy,” Wesselman said at the news conference. “We’re looking to Sens. (Diane) Feinstein and (Barbara) Boxer to lead the way to make sure the funding is there to repair the damage.”
In addition, Wesselmen said local groups have to brainstorm how to raise money, too.