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:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-information/colorado/ 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.

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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

S'aka

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.





No relief

11 06 2018

Terra and Piedra

Terra can’t believe that Piedra is trying the ol’ hide-behind-the-tamarisk ploy, especially after Aspen got caught looking red-handed handsome the other day. 🙂

We need a smile.

The 416 Fire nearly doubled in size Sunday, and now more than 2,000 homes are evacuated north of Durango. The Burro Fire has grown to 1,000 acres and has 0 percent containment. These two fires in Southwest Colorado were the lead story on the Denver CBS 4 news last night.

An email last night from San Juan National Forest spokeswoman Cam Hooley:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2018

San Juan National Forest to Implement Forest-wide Closure Order

DURANGO, CO –The San Juan National Forest (SJNF) is planning to implement Forest-wide Stage 3 fire closure this week, which will prohibit most entry into the forest.  The purpose of the closure is to protect natural resources and public safety due to the danger of wildland fire. Fire danger on the SJNF remains very high due to exceptional drought and fuel conditions.  The closure order is expected to be signed Tuesday, June 12, 2018 and remain in effect until the forest receives sufficient moisture to improve conditions.

The closure order will prohibit entry into the San Juan National Forest, including entry by the general public, most administrative entry by Forest Service employees, and most uses authorized under Forest Service permits and contracts. This means that forest campgrounds, day use areas, roads, and trails will be closed, including wilderness areas, and that hiking, dispersed camping, and other recreational activities are prohibited. Exemptions might be granted on a case-by-case basis with a written authorization from the Forest Service, which would include specific requirements for fire prevention. Exemptions must be requested from the appropriate District Ranger (below). Federal, state, or local officers conducting specific duties are exempt. The McPhee Recreation Area Complex boat ramp and marina will likely remain open but no shoreline use will be allowed.

The SJNF covers 1.8 million acres within the Dolores Ranger District, the Columbine Ranger District, and the Pagosa Ranger District across nine counties in southwestern Colorado. County and state roads and U.S. highways that cross Forest Service lands will not be affected by this order. On-going road closures due to the 416 Fire will continue to be managed by the La Plata County Sherriff. Businesses in local communities will remain open for business during the Forest closure at their discretion.

San Juan National Forest Supervisor, Kara Chadwick, wants concerned citizens to know that instituting a forest closure is an extremely difficult decision, and she is aware that the closure will affect a great many people, businesses, partner agencies, forest management activities, and the public. Forest managers use several criteria to determine when to implement restrictions and closures, including fuel moistures, current and predicted weather, values at risk from wildfire, fire activity levels, and available firefighting resources. The SJNF implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions on May 1, then Stage 2 fire restrictions on June 1, but conditions continued to worsen.  “The indices our fire team uses to predict fire danger are at historic levels well before we can expect any significant moisture from the seasonal monsoons,” SJNF Forest Fire Staff Officer, Richard Bustamante said.  “Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property.”

Violating Stage 3 fire restrictions or going into a closed area carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

The signed closure order will be posted on the San Juan National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/sanjuan/home . You can also follow @SanJuanNF on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact:

San Juan National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 970-247-4874,

Dolores Ranger District at 970-882-7296,

Columbine Ranger District at 970-884-2512,

or the Pagosa Ranger District at 970-264-2268.

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

******

This devastating drought affects us all. While these fires are not particularly close to Spring Creek Basin, they affect our neighbors and friends. Our prayers and wishes for safety continue to be with all of those folks, and with the firefighters, working on all aspects of these fires, away from their own homes and families.





The view from here

10 06 2018

The 416 Fire (north of Durango) from Disappointment Valley.

The 416 Fire (north of Durango) from Disappointment Valley.

Ugly.

The 416 Fire north of Durango has surpassed 8,600 acres and is still only 10 percent contained. The Durango Herald reports that more homes have been evacuated (now more than 1,300) and additional homes are on pre-evacuation notice (more than 1,000). The Burro Fire, in Montezuma County about 13 miles west of the 416 Fire, is at about 300 acres and 0 percent contained.

If it looks like this from Disappointment Valley, can you imagine how terrifying it looked from Durango?

It’s hard to imagine the searing fear one must feel if your home is in the area of this – or any – fire.

Though it takes away none of that fear … please be safe.