Effort Underway to Restore Forest Destroyed by King Fire

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POLLOCK PINES--

What was, not very long ago, a healthy and green forest now feels empty and lifeless.

"We're lacking that beautiful forest view we had," Vern Matthews, who lost his home in the destructive King Fire of 2014. The fire burned nearly 100,000 acres of El Dorado County and destroyed 12 homes.

Few families have had it as hard as Vern and his wife, Cindi. The Matthews lost their home on their son's birthday. Their son, Cody, went missing three months before the fire and haven't seem him since.

"It was a really rough day," Matthews said.

And it's been rough ever since, but the effort to generate new life is underway. On Saturday, volunteers began to plant 2,000 trees in area charred by the King Fire, including around the Matthews' home.

"It'll be nice to not look at the dead forest anymore," Cyndi Matthews said.

Mark Egbert, with the Resource Conservation District, says his agency has already restored the soil and cleared brush in much of the area.

Next year, the goal is to plant 350,000 new trees.

"It takes a while but you've gotta do it right and make sure it's the right thing for the right place," Egbert said.

Restoration can't come soon enough for the Matthews as they try to put the fire and everything left in its wake behind them.