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Chris Smith: Let’s give Trione-Annadel State Park the space it needs after fires

AFTER: Fire races through Annadel State Park above the Oakmont near Santa Rosa, CA. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

CHRIS SMITH, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Of course, people who run, hike, cycle or ride horses in Trione-Annadel State Park are itching to go in and see for themselves the extent of the fire damage.

Though officials have opened up a portion of the park’s northern end, most of it remains closed. Everybody who’s sneaking in is making matters worse for those who toil to bring the recreational treasure on Santa Rosa’s southeastern flank back into safe condition.

Someone who’s seen much of Annadel and would like to dissuade people from going in now offers this:

The park is not burned as badly as one might imagine. What hit it was not the blast-like firestorm that incinerated much of Fountaingrove and other areas, but a slower-burning vegetation fire.

Large areas of the state park went untouched. There is damage from the bulldozer cuts that had to be made to halt the spread of flames, but work will be done to minimize the lasting effects of those cuts.

If we love Annadel, we need to let it be — let the people tasked with getting it ready for reopening do their jobs.

THEY CLEAN HOUSES and do landscaping and work in vineyards and in restaurant kitchens, and since the fires they’ve suffered largely without notice.

In the short film “Forgotten Fire Victims,” storyteller and former PD staffer John Beck shines a light on Latino immigrants in dire need after losing homes and jobs to the fires.

Ky Boyd, who owns the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol, thinks Beck’s film is so important that starting Friday he’s going to show it before the trailers that precede every movie. He’ll do that through Nov. 30.

In Sonoma, Roger Rhoten told me he is preparing to screen “Forgotten Fire Victims” prior to the main features at his Sebastiani Theatre.

The film, at vimeo.com/241267737, hails undocufund.org, which is accepting donations to help undocumented residents with temporary housing, home repairs, work tools and other needs.

BOOKS FOR KIDS: Among the many doing much to help people rebuild their lives is Debbie Martinez, who lives in Colorado but was a Santa Rosan for 30 years and taught at Helen Lehman School.

Aching for all the children who lost their books along with their homes, Debbie contacted the Barnes & Noble bookstore. A plan was forged for kids whose homes were destroyed to receive gift cards for new books.

Right now, Debbie needs help from people willing to help cover the cost of the books.

She’ll use donations to gofundme.com/books-Santa-Rosa-Children to buy discounted Barnes & Noble cards. Schools will get the cards to children who need them.

REMEMBER KATY? She’s the dog that fled the flames off Mark West Springs Road with Maureen and Wayne Wendle, then went missing during a return visit to the scene of destruction with Wayne.

Well, the Wendles are smiling again — they found her.

Friday, Wayne went again to where his house has been, to call for the missing Australian shepherd/Catahoula hound.

And there Katy was, inside the shop building that survived the fire.

“We’re not really sure how she got there,” said Maureen. She and Wayne care only about what’s most important.

“She’s healthy, and she’s with us.”

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.