Nov 7, 2014 – Visit to Camp with The City of Berkeley and USFS

FOBTC Board members visit Camp with US Forest Service and City officials

Last Friday, November 7th, Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Board Members took part in a tour of our beloved camp along with City of Berkeley and US Forest Service (USFS) officials. Scott Ferris, Berkeley Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Director, led the tour, which included the US Forest Service’s Groveland District Ranger Jim Junette and Recreation Specialist Dusty Vaughn; Camp Tuolumne Master Planners Patrick and Jane Miller from 2M Associates; Toni Mester from the Parks Commission;  Recreation Services Manager Denise Brown, and City of Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.

Scott and Denise provided the USFS and City officials with background information on BTC’s history and operations. We walked through all of camp, including the area that was left untouched – down by cabin 36 and 37. FOBTC Board Members shared their memories as former staff and campers.

In September, all of the approximately 1400 ‘hazard trees’ identified by arborists were taken down. FOBTC was very active advocating for oversight and extremely careful logging, and are pleased to report that ONLY hazardous trees were removed, and the contractor, Sierra Pacific Industries, did a good job of minimizing impacts. In fact, many logs were deliberately left parallel to the contours of the hills, to prevent soil erosion.

This was the first time that all parties (the City of Berkeley, The USFS, and FOBTC) saw the site after the hazard trees were logged. Despite the shock of seeing the Rim Fire’s destruction, the tour was actually very positive and the future looks bright, even with so many trees gone. Here’s what we saw:

The Site:

The Rim Fire came down from above Girls Camp and burned quickly through the entrance and center of Camp. As you know, it destroyed all the buildings in main camp, and all the tents on the hillside above main camp and girls camp. From the parking area to the Stage area, including Thimbleberry Creek, and down hill all the way to the river in main camp, there are very few trees left standing. That is the worst of the damage, and the most shocking. It is an open, raw space now. A new open canvas to create a future camp on.


the view from the parking lot looking towards Girls Camp

Sun City was also dramatically affected, except for the bathrooms and a couple of cabins. Even the worst fire in history cannot take down THOSE bathrooms! 🙂

But the amazing thing is, heading towards lower beach from Main camp, many cabins still stand, and many pines, firs, and dogwoods are still standing tall! The fire did damage some trees in this area and the lower bathrooms were also burned but the area was not hit head-on like the center of camp.  A few hazardous trees in this area were felled in the recent logging operation and it is our hope that most if not all of the remaining fire-damaged trees will survive. Lower Beach itself looks ready right now for cocktail hour, horseshoes, and for kids fishing or rafting.


There is no softening the blow though: it is devastating and heartbreaking to see open space where our Green Chair Circle, Volleyball Court, Office, Rec Hall, and D-Hall used to be. There are piles of burnt logs and slash where we used to play ping pong. There are lonely concrete slabs where the K-Staff used to make morning pancakes and the Rec Staff used to lead tie-dye t-shirts.

the Green Circle of Chairs area and the D-Hall steps in August

When we walked in from the road, our first impression was that Camp looked so small. Without the trees, you can now see so much more of the land we’re on – the steep hillsides and contoured terrain. It’s beautiful in a natural way. From above Girls Camp, it actually resembles a beautiful little natural amphitheater, ringed by the tall trees that survived the fire.

                                                                                   Next steps:
There were many constructive conversations about the future of camp. And while we look forward, we need to bear in mind that more trees will probably need to come down – particularly if the drought continues. We’re all hoping for a robust winter so that the dogwoods, black oaks, and maples can resprout, and so we’ll begin to see new pines, firs, and cedars sprouting up. There will be another check after the winter on how specific trees are doing. Pray for rain and snow, but not TOO much rain or snow; we need the topsoil to remain in place.  🙂

The City of Berkeley is working with their Master Planners (2m Associates) and with the USFS to iron out the new Master Plan, as they negotiate a new Special Use Permit (lease) and move forward with rebuilding camp. In our visit, the tone was definitely upbeat and collaborative. All parties seem to be committed to working towards rebuilding our beloved BTC right there at 31585 Hardin Flat Rd!

Groveland District Ranger Jim Junette expressed that we have a ‘clean slate’ and Recreation Specialist Dusty Vaughn also emphasized the value of having family camps in the Stanislaus National Forest. Everyone seemed to be on the same page, and looking to work together to rebuild this special treasure. Our friends at the Forest Service were very reassuring that the tree cover would eventually come back. FOBTC is excited to fund raise, advocate, and plan for the eventual support of reforestation efforts, trail rebuilding, environmental education programming, and whatever else our new Camp Tuolumne will need.

There will be a time in the Master Planning process for public comment and camper involvement, and we promise to let you know about that opportunity so that you can bring your ideas and concerns. It will not be for a while, as there are still lease, permitting, insurance, and other issues to be worked out by the City and other stakeholders. But when that day comes, we’ll begin the next exciting chapter of rebuilding Camp!

Visiting the Area:
The USFS will be reopening the Rim Fire Area on November 14th. Here is the link to their website for more information:

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The Fall leaves at Rainbow Pool were beautiful last weekend

We also heard that Tuolumne County will be reopening the Hardin Flat to visitors beginning November 18th. You can get more information or contact information at this site:

This means that if you and your family or friends would like to drive up to the area and visit, you will be able to drive up after November 18th. While you can drive on Harden Flat Road, the City of Berkeley is still prohibiting people from actually going on the lease area, because it is still hazardous.

It will be Trespassing to go onto any part of the Camp Area, so please obey this law. It is imperative that we all respect this boundary.

But you can walk along Hardin Flat Road, or hike the fire roads above Camp, or hike up to Small Falls. Please keep in mind that all areas of the Rim Fire area are dangerous, as trails are damaged from fallen trees, loose rock, and debris.

Again, to respect our beloved camp and the City’s work to rebuild – please DO NOT go on the actual camp grounds.

FOBTC is committed to continuing to monitor all work and progress on behalf of the Camper community, and to communicate any information to you we can. We are your eyes and ears and your advocacy organization, and are dedicated to the rebuilding of Camp.

Contact: with any questions/comments/suggestions

Join us next Thursday Oct 9th to celebrate The Tuolumne River’s 30th anniversary of Wild and Scenic Status!



Dearest Campers!

Thirty years ago Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp played a key role in securing Wild and Scenic status for 83 miles of the Tuolumne River.

On Thursday October 9th 6pm – 9pm, at Jack London Square in Oakland, we are attending the Tuolumne River Trust’s Wild and Scenic anniversary celebration and annual benefit. Join the likes of Barbara Boxer, Congressman George Miller, Richard Chamberlain and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for this historic night!

Tickets available at

($50 includes beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres)


Golf Tournament a success!


Hey Campers + Staff,

We had a phenomenal fundraiser on Friday, the 1st Annual BTC Golf Tournament! On a bright and sunny day, 93 golfers competed in teams, and brought the Tuolumne Spirit to the greens and fairways of Tilden Park. About 200 supporters attended the dinner and live auction on Friday evening, including the Honorable City Council Members Darryl Moore, Linda Maio, and Laurie Capitelli, current and past staff members, and a lot of good old Camp friends.

Jim Whitty, camper and volunteer extraordinaire, and our very own Scott Gelfand, worked the mic during the Live Auction. We auctioned off 10 items, including a stay at a vacation house in Mexico, generously donated by the Kletz Family. Campers and Staff also took home 40 fantastic raffle items, which were generously donated by campers and local businesses. Many local businesses also sponsored the 18 holes, and deserve credit and your business! Please support the businesses that support us! They are listed below.

This event was a big success, both in terms of keeping the Tuolumne Spirit alive and well, and also as a fundraiser. We owe a ton of thanks to our super-camper-volunteers, Jim and Katie Whitty, for working tirelessly and with their network of friends and FOBTC to organize and run the event. (“Round the Hall you must go, you must go, you must go!”) Many thanks to the former and current staff who worked out on the course, and to ous super volunteers Jim, Katie, Michael, Trish, and Mike for setting up, running the registration table, and keeping everything running smoothly.

It will take a real team effort for us to help get Camp rebuilt. Many thanks to Jim and Katie for devoting so much time, energy, and resources to make our first Golf Tournament a huge success!

Please join us in thanking the many sponsors and supporters of this event:

Event/Support Staffers:
Locke Jaeger, Michael Baum, Trish O’Regan and Mike Frauenfelder, the fabulous Phil Coffin, Laura Gold, Judi Newell, Babs Kavanaugh. Awesome staff, CIT, camper volunteers were: Frankie, Brennan, Maria, Lucie, Oona,Nina, Angie, Darion, Fitzy, Angelika, Maddie, Jo, Jessica, Ashton (hope I’m not forgetting anyone!) Special big thanks to Jim and Katie Whitty. Thank you Theo for the green chair!!

1. Clif Bar and Chris Randall
2. Comfort Zone and Sharon Krieger
3. Mother Jones and David Rothenberg
4. Ty Alper for School Board
5. Lions Club and Dave Nicely/Jay Touriel
6. Lee, Brian and Dan at the Evergreen Lodge
7. Red Oak Realty and Schuyler Oliver
8. Meeta and Manish Doshi and Doshi Professional Dental Corporation
9. McCullough & Associates and Leon Wiatrak
10. Bakesale Betty and Alison Barakat
11.JVM Lending and Heejin Kim
12. Mechanics Bank
13. Monaghans on the Hill and Dave Newell

And a big thank you to all our supporters, we couldn’t do this without the support of the following:

The Evergreen Lodge, Disneyland, Allison Banks and GoPro, Restaurante Dona Thomas, Flora Restaurant & Bar, Bay Wolf Restaurant, Rivoli Restaurant, iScream, Masse’s Pastries, The Cheeseboard Collective, Cole Coffee, Le Petit Cochon, The Buddy Club, The DeYoung Museum, Yabbles Hats, Plantillo, The Dailey Method, Broadway Terrace Nursery, Dawn Trygstad Acupressure, Julie Orman Chiropractic, Safeway, Phil Coffin, Cakes by Jessica, Valerie & Eric Kratzer, Harvey Kletz, Dave Newell, Veneggs, Tim Messick Photography, Rishi Schweig, Richard Sheng, Sommelier Jonathan Waters, Kerry & Brian Dahm, Manish Doshi, Theo Jerome, Mira Vista Golf and Country Club, St.Mary’s Youth Sports Camp, Lisa Kirkby Desserts & Bakesale Betty

Thank you to the crew at The Tilden Park Golf Course
for enthusiastically embracing our camp spirit, and to
Taqueria Hecho en Mexico – the meal was great!

Rafting the South Fork

We are all so loyal to our beloved South Fork Tuolumne River, but we at FOBTC want to encourage everyone to explore and enjoy the whole Tuolumne Watershed! There’s so much to do up there (beyond our shangri-la on Hardin Flat Rd) and a lot of great organizations to get involved with.

This weekend I had an unforgettable time whitewater rafting down the Main Fork Tuolumne River with Sierra Mac River Trips ( Sierra Mac is one of the premier whitewater rafting companies, and was founded by the great Marty McDonnell, who also co-founded the Tuolumne River Trust, and was part of the coalition that helped stop hydroelectric projects from flooding BTC back in the 1980’s.

I was signed up for the Cherry Creek/Tuolumne run. I’d only been whitewater rafting once, on some Class III and IV back east many years ago, so I gotta admit, there was some trepidation about taking a primarily Class V trip when I pulled up to the parking lot at 6:00am.

We took a van down the Cherry Lake Rd, past San Jose Camp, and all the way down to one of San Francisco’s dams on Cherry Creek where they generate hydroelectric power. Our guides, Adam and Tom, provided a thorough overview, healthy breakfast, and pre-trip coaching. It felt like bootcamp at times, and that’s just what we needed to get mentally prepared and to feel confident. Throughout the trip, Adam and Tom skillfully and confidently guided us through some really intense drops, rapids, and chutes. They knew that river intimately, like we all know the South Fork intimately, and they could always tell us what rock, eddy, rapid, or other feature was around the corner and how we were going to handle it.

I gotta tell you, this is not like rafting down the South Fork to Naco at quiet hour. It’s also not like Rip Roaring Rapids at Great America amusement park. It was like 100 ‘pee-wee secrets’ per minute for five straight hours. It was like jumping off Beaverhead 100 times during morning swim! OK, got it? The main fork drains Tuolumne Meadows, the Hetch Hetchy area, Cherry Lake, the Middle Fork, Clavey River, and our South Fork. With such a huge watershed, there was a ton of water in the Main Fork, and we were flying down the canyon. The water was moving between 5 and 10 mph, and some of the drops and rapids were pretty severe. It took a lot of agility, balance, and hard work, but everyone on my boat did great, thanks to good coaching from our river guide, Tom. After getting the hang of it, it was an incredibly beautiful and rich way to enjoy a Sierra Nevada river. Of course I’m partial to climbing up Beaverhead, or hiking to Small Falls, or dangling my feet in the water below Arts & Crafts……that will always be my favorite way to pass a summer afternoon. But after this amazing trip, I also highly recommend taking a whitewater rafting trip down the Main Fork Tuolumne.

In our longterm effort to rebuild BTC, it’s important for us to also a) support the larger Rim Fire reforestation effort, b) support businesses along Highway 120, c) continue to protect the whole Tuolumne watershed, and d) build relationships with business and non-profit partners in the Stanislaus National Forest. And hey- why not have the time of your life while you’re at it? So check out Sierra Mac for a whitewater rafting adventure!

Phil Coffin

Great News on the Rim Fire Recovery Plan

Dear Campers,

As you may have already read in the papers, the Stanislaus National Forest has announced its plans for salvage logging in the Rim Fire Area. In May and June, FOBTC worked closely with the Tuolumne River Trust and Yosemite-Stanislaus Solutions to understand the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and lead our letter-writing efforts. We first want to thank those of you that wrote letters to the US Forest Service in June, expressing our concerns about road building, wildlife habitat, and localized impacts near Camp.

Great News!!! We, along with our allies at the Tuolumne River Trust and Yosemite-Stanislaus Solutions, are very pleased with the plan announced by the Forest Service; they listened to all of the stakeholders and to you – the campers!

Organizations such as the Tuolumne River Trust (our old ally) and Yosemite-Stanislaus Solutions (of which we are a member) built a broad coalition to address the original US Forest Service proposal. The USFS responded to the stakeholders.

By incorporating a variety the input from environmental, recreation, local businesses, and timber interests, the highlights of this plan include:

For Us:
– This plan does not directly impact Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, which will be treated separately. Only hazardous trees are being removed!

– While ‘Hazard Tree Removal’ will soon take place at Berkeley Tuolumne Camp (we want that of course), FOBTC hopes to work with the City of Berkeley and the US Forest Service to ensure that environmental impacts are reduced and ALL healthy trees are left standing.

Forest wide:
– Salvage logging will take place on less than half of the acres that the US Forest Service originally proposed.

– It reduces the amount of timber harvested from 650 million board feet down to less than 210 million board feet. This is more consistent with the actual capacity of local lumber mills.

– Only 20% of the entire Rim Fire area will be salvaged logged. This will allow a lot of snag trees and wildlife habitat to remain untouched.

So, campers, thank you again for making your voices heard in June, and stay tuned for more updates as we work with our regional allies to influence the next chapter in the Rim Fire Recovery: the Reforestation Proposal.

Through this broad spectrum of support our allies and we can lobby for increased federal funding essential for the far-reaching restoration work required to restore the health of the forest and watershed.

This is a victory today for the USFS doing business in a new way, incorporating all the various stakeholder groups and working together in a cohesive way to sort out solutions! Progress!!

And for us, it gives our precious 14.5 acres a special prescription plan that focuses on hazardous tree removal only and special considerations when replanting begins. We truly are excited about this news..



FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — While the flames still raced through California’s Sierra Nevada last year, investigators zeroed in on a deer hunter they had rescued by helicopter an hour after the first report of the wildfire that would become the mountain range’s largest in its recorded history.

They pressed the hunter, who said at first he caused a rockslide in a remote corner of the Stanislaus National Forest that sparked the blaze, and then blamed illegal marijuana growers, denying he even took a lighter on his hunting trip, according to a search warrant affidavit.

On Thursday — nearly a year later — a grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, alleging he started a campfire Aug. 17, 2013 in an area where fires were prohibited, and it spread beyond his control and turned into the massive Rim Fire.

The fire raged for two months across 400 square miles of land including part of Yosemite National Park, threatening thousands of structures, destroying 11 homes and costing more than $125 million to fight.

Investigators said Emerald gave inconsistent and changing versions of what happened during multiple interviews that began almost immediately after he was rescued and stretched over several weeks. Emerald was carrying bow hunting equipment when he was picked up from the Stanislaus National Forest, and rescuers and others who had contact with him initially told investigators he appeared not to understand the gravity of the situation and showed little remorse or interest in the dangerous rescue that had just occurred or the status of the fire, according to the affidavit.

A call to Emerald’s attorney, federal public defender Janet Bateman, was not immediately returned.

After multiple interviews and a promise from investigators that they would keep his name out of the media for as long as they could, he acknowledged having a lighter, starting a fire and cooking a meal, according to the affidavit. He burned trash from his backpack, but some of the embers blew uphill and set the brush on fire, he allegedly told investigators in a handwritten statement.”The terrain was almost vertical, so I physically couldn’t put it out,” he wrote. “The wind was blowing up the canyon hard enough to almost blow my hat off.”He later recanted, but investigators said a man who drove Emerald to pick up his truck after the fire began said Emerald acknowledged setting a campfire that got out of control.Emerald, a resident of Columbia, a town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is also charged with lying to a federal agent. He has not been arrested, and prosecutors said no court date has been set for his arraignment.Authorities previously said the wildfire was started by an illegal fire set by a hunter, but they withheld the hunter’s name pending further investigation. In the affidavit, investigators said Emerald was worried about community retaliation if his name got out.”The Rim Fire was one of the largest in California history and caused tremendous economic and environmental harm,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a written statement. “While those harms cannot be undone, today we have brought criminal charges relating to the cause of the fire.”The charges were the result of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service and the Tuolumne County district attorney’s office, Wagner said.© 2014 Hearst Communications, Inc.

BTC vs Echo – A comparison in the Berkeleyside


By Peg Healy

After Berkeley Tuolumne Camp tragically burned down last summer, the City of Berkeley hired some BTC staffers and created three sessions of a family camp program at its smaller camp at Echo Lake, near South Lake Tahoe. This camp has charms of its own. Here are my top ten:

1. Afternoon thunderheads and little sprinkles of rain. So there’s hardly any red dust on your toes and everything else you own. And plenty of wildflowers among the cabins and pines!

2. The jaw-dropping view of Lake Tahoe from the Rec Hall, the volleyball court, some fortunate cabins, and the green Adirondack chairs built by the Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp.

3. The camp is relatively flat and easy to walk.

4. The program is smaller: 25 cheery staffers and 130 campers, compared to 60 staffers and 250 campers at Tuolumne Camp. Somehow smaller is even friendlier. The Dining Hall is quiet enough to actually converse with your table mates or chat with folks in the buffet line.

5. The food is better than I remember: Lunch was turkey, veggie, or beef burgers; dinner was tri-tip with rosemary potatoes, penne pasta, plus a salad bar; breakfast was cheesy eggs, sausage, melon, and hot oatmeal.

6. Tuolumne Camp tradition is alive, with silly songs and chants, Kiddie Kamp, the staff show, Theme Days, Bingo Night, sports tournaments, arts & crafts, nature hikes, tie-dye, and more.

7. There’s plenty to do besides relax. Volleyball, badminton, archery, table tennis or bocce ball, anyone? The lifeguards are hoping to reopen their pool soon. Berkeley Camp keeps canoes at the Echo Lake Marina, a short walk down the road, where you can fish or ride in a water taxi.  Hiking is at your doorstep on the Pacific Crest Trail and in the Desolation Wilderness. Birders have already spotted flickers, sapsuckers, woodpeckers, tanagers…. Campers have donated what looked like about 50 board games.

8. They’ve got a real recycling program now for bottles and cans. Also metal food lockers for campers’ snacks, to keep the local ground squirrels (and black bears) out of your tent cabin.

9. The canvas tent tops look new. Many cabins have decks, with wooden picnic tables and seats nearby in the trees. Our cabin had eight built-in bunks with mattresses, but no electricity.

10. Short showers are encouraged, to save water, but they’ve got flush toilets and the nicest porta-potties ever. Seriously. These port-potties are so clean they’re poetic.