Summer of same

7 08 2018

Sunset over Disappointment Valley.

Still hot.

Still dry.

Still smoky.

Black and white against the grey (smoke)

1 08 2018


The air over Southwest Colorado is terribly smoky.

Plateau Fire – 2,800 acres, 5 percent contained; started July 22 in Dolores County.

West Guard Fire – 1,405 acres, 80 percent contained; it also started July 22, straight south of Spring Creek Basin in Dolores County.

Bull Draw Fire – 2,800 acres; started July 29 northwest of Nucla, which is north of Spring Creek Basin in Montrose County.

We may also be getting smoke from wildfires farther west. The hot and dry weather continues.

In good news, at least some of the ponds in Spring Creek Basin that had gone dry this summer have water again from some sprinkles (harder in some places than others) we’ve gotten, and some grass finally is growing.

The longest summer

27 07 2018


It’s weirdly hazy again, despite the sprinkles we’ve had.

For the source, one has no farther to look than the smoke on the horizon.

Plateau Fire

West Guard Fire – I called in a report of smoke and found out that firefighters already were on this fire. It’s directly south of Spring Creek Basin … but not terribly close.

Neither fire is very big at this time.

Ridge walker

30 06 2018


It was a pretty nice view … and then Hayden walked into it, and it became spectacular. 🙂

Hot, dry, windy conditions (you know … same ol’, same ol’ … ) have resulted in more – and more visible – activity from the 416 and Burro fires. Air quality near the fires is pretty bad, according to personal accounts and this Durango Herald article.


Many thanks to the many firefighters on the job in our area!

Forest open

22 06 2018


Gaia at the end of the longest day … with some important news:

Most San Juan National Forest and Durango-area BLM-managed lands re-open on Thursday (June 21). Stage 2 Fire Restrictions Remain in Effect.

 DURANGO, Colo. – On Thursday, June 21, at 3 p.m., the San Juan National Forest (SJNF) will re-open to the public by rescinding the Stage 3 Closure Order that has been in place since
June 12.  Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Durango area that closed last week will also reopen. An area around the active 416 and Burro Fires will remain closed to public entry, including the segments of the Colorado Trail from Molas Pass to the Junction Creek terminus.  The BLM lands and the rest of the SJNF will remain in Stage 2 fire restrictions.

This allows campgrounds, roads, and trails to re-open, and operations to resume for those with permits and contracts for doing business on the public lands.

While recent messaging has been that one rainstorm would likely not result in much of a difference in fire danger, the weather event that southwest Colorado experienced this past weekend was not a typical event. The storm brought up to 1.5 inches of rain to some local areas, which is more rain than is received during the whole month of June on average. This was unanticipated relief to the extraordinarily dry and fire prone conditions in the region. Fortunately, the rain was delivered in a steady two-day event which did not produce mud slides or debris flows.

It may seem like a quick turn-around since last Tuesday, but both the decisions to close and re-open the SJNF were based on scientific information and a defined set of ten criteria. The criteria include measurable factors such as fuel moistures, Energy Release Component, Burning Index, and Ignition Component. Going into closure, all ten criteria were met or exceeded. Six or less criteria are projected to be met over the next week. Additionally, many out-of-area firefighting resources remain positioned around the area to respond to any new fire starts.

According to agency meteorologists and fire behavior analysts, factors which dictate the kind of severe fire behavior that were seen in the last two weeks have moderated. Even though these factors are likely to rise again as the weather returns to a hot and dry period, they are not likely to reach the previously extreme levels before the monsoon rains are expected.

SJNF and BLM Stage 2 fire restrictions PROHIBIT:

1)   Building, maintaining, attending or using an OPEN FLAME, including fire, campfire, stove fire, charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves, and devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) using liquid fuel such as white gas or kerosene. This prohibition applies to the entire San Juan National Forest, including Wilderness and developed camping and picnic grounds.

Except: Devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) using pressurized gas canisters (isobutene or propane) that include shut-off valves, or within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, or building.


Except: Within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.

3)   WELDING or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.

4)   Operating or using any INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE (e.g. chainsaw, generator, ATV) without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order meeting USDA Forest Service or SAE approval.

5)   Operating a CHAINSAW without an approved spark arresting device, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (8 oz. capacity by weight or larger and kept with the operator) and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use, or outside of the “Hoot Owl” restricted hours of 5am – 1pm.

6)   Using an EXPLOSIVE. This includes but is not limited to fuses or blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, and tracers or incendiary ammunition.

7)   Discharging a FIREARM, air rifle, or gas gun.

8)   Possessing or using a MOTOR VEHICLE OFF ESTABLISHED ROADS, motorized trails or established parking areas, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the vehicle.

These temporary restrictions will remain in place until further notice, and may be increased or reduced at any time due to changes in weather and fire danger. Specifics of what is prohibited or allowed vary depending on jurisdiction, so check with the appropriate managing agency.

Agency officials wish to emphasize that conditions are still very dry and people should use extreme caution to prevent human-caused fires. Those living near fire burn scars should also be vigilant for potential debris flows and sign up with the CodeRed emergency notification system at

Kara Chadwick, San Juan Forest Supervisor, and Connie Clementson, BLM Tres Rios Field Manager, wish to thank the public, partners, and surrounding communities for their support and cooperation, and for understanding that they are working to balance protection of resources and human safety with the economic impacts to surrounding communities.

For more Forest Service fire restriction and closure information, contact the San Juan National Forest at 970-247-4874, or visit You can also follow @SanJuanNF on Twitter and Facebook. For BLM fire information, visit

To report a fire on federal lands, please contact the Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch Center at (970) 385-1324.

Red at night …

16 06 2018

Temple at sunset

We haven’t gotten many red sunsets that I’d attribute to the smoky haze in the sky. … But this might have been. Our air hasn’t been nearly as smoky as reports from friends farther east and south (into New Mexico).

We’re all looking desperately for rain. Our chances are down to 50 percent for today, but the future radar from last night’s news looks promising.

Another fire started yesterday: the Upper Mailbox Fire near Norwood and Redvale, which are northeast of Spring Creek Basin.

BLM is joining the Forest Service in closing some areas around Durango:

Contact:  Shannon Borders, 970-240-5399 or Chris Asbjorn, 970-240-5317

BLM Tres Rios Field Office implements emergency closure for fire danger for areas near Durango

MONTROSE, Colo. – On Friday, June 15, the Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office is implementing an emergency closure for fire danger in select areas within La Plata County, near Durango, Colorado. Public entry is closed to the Durango Special Recreation Management area lands including Animas City Mountain (above City property), Skyline, Grandview and Turtle Lake/East Animas Climbing Areas. In addition, the Perrins Peak Wildlife Management Area, adjoining the state wildlife area is closed. The purpose of the closure is to protect natural resources and public safety due to the dangers of wildfire.

“The BLM supports the efforts of other agencies in the area to manage wildfire risk during a record drought,” said Connie Clementson, BLM Tres Rios Field Manager. “Public lands outside of the Durango area remain open, and we want to remind everyone to be safe and not add to wildfire risk this summer.”

Currently, Stage 2 fire restrictions are in place throughout the Tres Rios Field Office, which prohibit open burning, smoking, target shooting and off route use of motor vehicles. The BLM decided to move into targeted closures in selected areas of the field office in order to address concerns from the local community and cooperating agencies and to be consistent with the City of Durango, La Plata County, San Juan National Forest and Colorado Parks and Wildlife who implemented similar closures earlier this week.

The BLM continuously monitors the conditions throughout the area and will modify the emergency closure and fire restrictions as needed. Maps and additional information about BLM emergency closures and fire restrictions are available at or call the BLM Southwest District Fire Management Information Hotline at 970-240-1070 for updates about local fires.

Exemptions to the emergency closure include authorized activities of any federal, state or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting effort in the performance of an official duty. Additionally, holders of valid BLM permits within the closure area should contact the BLM at 970-882-1120 with questions regarding impacts to their permits. Additionally, leases and authorizations are allowed to conduct approved activities, but are required to take extra precautions to prevent fire starts.

Red boy and red haze

15 06 2018

Hayden; Temple Butte, McKenna Peak

If any mustang can make a smoky horizon look good, it’s handsome Hayden.

The 416 Fire is up to 32,076 acres, and the Burro Fire is now at 3,408 acres.

We’re hoping for rain … but the Durango Herald reports that the forecast could be a “mixed bag” because of wind and potential lightning. We’re already getting the blasting wind.

We really need a drenching rain. We need a LOT of drenching rain.

This probably isn’t that … yet … but we’re starting to get reports that the monsoons are coming.

Not-happy boy

14 06 2018


I almost (*almost*) wish I could tell readers that that’s dust in the background. It has been windy … forever, it seems.

But that’s smoke, and it rolled in like a crazy wall around 8 p.m. Timelapse video probably couldn’t have been more dramatic than the weirdly fast way it advanced.

In hopeful news, weather forecasters are giving us a 100 percent chance of rain on Saturday. … It must be true, right????! 🙂

I told someone that, and he replied, “You’re either a fool or a newcomer if you believe that.”

Yeah. I’ll believe it when the rain is in my gauge.

Come for the mustangs, stay for the weather report. 🙂

Meanwhile … obviously, the fire are still burning. Some good news there: About half of the evacuees from the 416 Fire have been allowed to return home.

Golden boys

13 06 2018

Skywalker and S'aka

Skywalker and S’aka caught in the act of peacefully grazing in gorgeous evening light.

Not so nice or peaceful:

McKenna Peak and Temple Butte ... 416 Fire (Durango) plume behind.

That’s not a lovely nice rain cloud building behind McKenna Peak and Temple Butte. That’s smoke again from the 416 Fire and/or Burro Fire. The smoke trail along our southeastern horizon is so widespread that I’m really not sure which fire it’s from. Neither fire is a good fire.

Recognizing beauty

12 06 2018

Alegre and Maia

Another photo in the trend of pretty mustangs trying to hide behind the only greenery in Spring Creek Basin, which is mostly greasewood.

No news here: The 416 Fire grew, and the Burro Fire grew. We had smoke in Disappointment Valley.