Then & Now | Shields Canyon Debris Basin


Courtesy of The Historical Society of CV

THEN » In February of 1978 the debris basin above Pinecrest at the very top of Pinecone Road was overwhelmed by mud and rocks flowing out of Shields Canyon. A massive debris flow tore through the Pinecrest neighborhood. Danette Erickson lived there at that time, and supplied us with this photo. Danette remembers: “That was our old debris basin, which the trucks had to clear out weekly for it filled up so fast. Then in the big one, the boulders went over and blocked the channel, ripping open the street, breaking the gas lines open, as well as underground electric. Probably we had no phones (before cell of course), but our ham radios worked!” In this shot, the boulders can clearly be seen stacked up on the spillway.


NOW » The same conditions exist today that were there in ’78. Freshly burned hillsides loom above Pinecrest just waiting for a good rain to start the mud flowing. The small debris basin has been replaced with a much larger earth and concrete structure, but the County is still taking precautions, and many of the basins are being hurriedly emptied in hopes that they don’t overflow this winter.