The Honey Run Covered Bridge Association (HRCBA) is pleased to announce our way forward in rebuilding the Honey Run Covered Bridge, which was destroyed November 8, 2018 in the Camp Fire.
October 2019 Update:
The Butte County Board of Supervisors took the first step toward turning the project of Rebuilding the Honey Run Covered Bridge over to the HRCBA at their meeting on October 22. There are more steps needed to complete this process and we will keep you informed. All the ‘I’s must be dotted and the ‘t’s crossed. Thanks to Supervisors Lucero, Teeter, Ritter and Lambert, as well as Butte County Public Works Director Dennis Schmidt for helping in these efforts.
We would like to thank Gary Powers and Lee Stockwell of Chico True Value for hosting a fun-raising event on October 18-20. They donated drawing prizes to the HRCBA and allowed us to set up a table in front of their store to sell Honey Run Covered Bridge memorabilia and information, sell drawing tickets and hold a silent auction. Diana Gibson won the Weber gas grill and Paula Esparza won the fire pit donation prizes. The HRCBA raised $10,220 at the event. Once again, Karin Willhoit and her minions’ effort in turning rubble from the Bridge into gold for the Rebuild were a hit. The nails gathered and artistically crafted into saleable items and the birdhouses made in-part from the Bridge remains raised more than half of the money over the weekend. Karin, if you all remember, organized the creation of the metal hearts from the bridge roofing which were sold last Christmas. Karin, we will find a way to thank you with more than words. Also, we would like to thank Forrest Oldham for contributing the proceeds from the books he wrote and edited about covered bridges. He was gracious enough to spend much of the weekend aiding Karin and HRCBA Board members to speak to contributors and sign books for those who purchased them.
The Honey Run Covered Bridge Park’s physical survey, necessary for our final site plan, is being completed over the next few days. Plans also were discussed at the grounds on October 22 for the new caretaker’s house which will be solar powered.
The Park will be opened on November 9, from 10-3pm as part of a countywide commemoration of the first anniversary of the Camp Fire. Details will be forthcoming once plans are cemented. There will also be a flag ceremony at the Centerville Recreation and Historical Association Museum and Schoolhouse on the same day. An HRCBA Board Member will speak there at 2pm about the progress of the Rebuild.
January 2019 Update:
At a meeting January 9, 2019 among 25 individuals with various interests in the Covered Bridge, two decisions were made. First, we decided, working together, we would do all possible to rebuild the Bridge, maintaining its original design and appearance with necessary safety standard upgrades. Second, we agreed to endorse Butte County’s effort to seek Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding. This seemed appropriate since Butte County had owned the Covered Bridge since its construction in 1887, with the adjacent Covered Bridge Park owned and managed since its inception in 1965 by the non-profit Honey Run Covered Bridge Association.
In April 2019, Butte County informed HRCBA that FEMA would only reimburse costs of reconstruction, and only then if FEMA standards and requirements were met. Butte County has no funds for reconstruction, given other critical costs of infrastructure repairs due to the Camp Fire. Consequently, HRCBA has begun discussions with Butte County staff about obtaining 1) the County deed to the right-of-way across Butte Creek where the Covered Bridge had stood, and 2) eventual HRCBA ownership of the reconstructed Covered Bridge. This will require the Covered Bridge rebuild to be funded with private donations.
While awaiting a final County decision on these transfers, we are discussing with Butte County staff a temporary Easement Permit to begin hydrologic and geotechnical studies needed to construct new foundations supporting the Bridge pillars. We hope these studies will be completed this summer.
Quincy Engineering of Rancho Cordova, an experienced bridge engineering firm with strong Butte County ties, has provided to HRCBA, pro bono, outlines of a plan to rebuild the Bridge. Northstar of Chico has donated surveys. While we had hoped that construction might begin later this summer with expedited permits, federal regulatory agencies have determined that because the original construction of the Bridge footings do not meet current standards, a full review will be needed, delaying the start date for several months.
Meanwhile, Quincy Engineering has presented a cost analysis totaling $3 million, an amount that could be offset with donated materials and labor. Additional expenses will be incurred from repairing and upgrading the adjacent Honey Run Covered Bridge Park. Already, $300,000 has come to HRCBA through merchandise sales, individual donations, small grants, and pledges. HRCBA will continue to search for and welcome donations of funds, material and labor.
Destruction of the Honey Run Covered Bridge in the Camp Fire was a great loss. HRCBA believes that rebuilding the Bridge provides a unique opportunity for the communities of Paradise, Chico and surrounding areas to unite with common purpose and passion in restoring this iconic structure.