Smoke and Bird Updates

Photos R.W.

A brief smoke event with the wind travelling in the same direction as yesterday, but much less fierce, and picking up much less smoke. The Forest Service update tells us that the affected area has grown to 256 acres.

They also include an interesting explanation for yesterday’s photogenic event: “Fire activity was low to moderate throughout the day Saturday until about 5:30 p.m. when a storm cell brought much stronger winds out of the north, drastically increasing fire activity and pushing the fire to the south. The winds also helped create the very visible smoke column in the late afternoon. The blacklining that crews had worked on over the past several days held the fire in spite of the dramatic shift in wind direction and speed. Today, crews on scene continued to blackline the perimeter and look for spot fires. ”

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Forest Plan Revision Open Houses to Take Place in Santa Fe and Pecos.

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

These Open Houses are intended to keep the public involved between our more formal rounds of public meetings and we will keep you informed when we are ready for the next round of evening and technical public meetings. If you can’t make it to an Open House, please call (505-438-5442) or email (santafeforestplan@fs.fed.us) us with any questions.

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Gathering Monsoon Both Decreases and Increases Fire Danger

A couple of lightning caused fires that have broken out currently suggest a different pattern of fire danger emerging. The forests are still dry and ready to ignite at any carelessly flicked cigarette butt or abandoned campfire, but the recent weather has brought with it some increased moisture in the forests together with instances of dry lightning storms.

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Explore and Discuss Creating Climate Solutions with the Northwest Earth Institute

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) is bringing another discussion course developed by the Northwest Earth Institute to Los Alamos. Change is our Choice: Creating Climate Solutions is a five-week discussion course where participants will learn about climate change and how to take action to mitigate its causes and effects in their own lives, our community, and our world. This course meets at the Los Alamos Nature Center on Thursdays from 6:00 to 7:30 PM starting July 13th and running through August 10th. This free course is open to the public. Space is limited, and advance registration is required.Continue reading

Final Update and Some Observations on the Cajete Fire from the New Mexico Fire Information and Santa Fe National Forest Pages

Photo SFNF.
Under the leadership of Type 3 Incident Commander Matt Armantrout, firefighters today are mopping-up hot spots, gridding for residual heat, and addressing fire suppression repair needs, including removing hazardous trees along Highway 4. Crews and overhead personnel are being demobilized and re-assigned to other incidents. Command of the Cajete Fire will transition to a Type 4 organization and the Jemez Ranger District on Tuesday.

Isolated smoke may be visible as concentrations of heavy fuels smolder within the fire perimeter, though no further fire growth is anticipated. Hot and dry conditions persist, with a chance of rain and thunderstorm activity possible for the fire area.

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Los Amigos de Valles Caldera Make a Date Change

Los Amigos in action.

Due to complications from the Cajete Fire, Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, Valles Caldera National Preserve’s industrious friends group, will be celebrating their 10th anniversary and the grand opening of the preserve bookstore on July 22nd during our 17th Preserve Birthday Bash! Between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, enjoy music, refreshments, artist demonstrations, facepainting, visiting wildlife from the New Mexico Wildlife Center, a 10% discount at the bookstore, souvenirs, and a drawing. A ribbon cutting will be held at the new bookstore at noon.

For additional information about this event and the Preserve Birthday Bash, check out our events calendar, https://www.nps.gov/vall/planyourvisit/calendar.htm. See you at the party!

http://losamigosdevallescaldera.org/events/

El Cajete Fire is contained at 96 percent.

Joshua Szopinski

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

There are still 359 personnel on the site. They consist of 3 Type 1 Crews, 4 Type 2 crews, assisted by 14 engines, 1 dozer, 4 water tenders, 2 Type 1 helicopters, 2 Type 2 helicopters, and 1 Type 3 helicopter

On Thursday, June 22, California Team 3 will transition to a Type 3 organization that will patrol the fire. As containment objectives are met, some crews and overhead are being demobilized or re-assigned to other incidents.

Currently crews on the fireline anticipate minimal fire activity. They continue mop-up and fire suppression repair, working to remove signs of suppression activity and prevent erosion.

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Cajete Fire Burn Area Closed to the Public until July 31

The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) today issued a closure order for the approximately 1,400 acres on the Jemez Ranger District burned by the Cajete Fire.  The restricted area includes:

  • all lands, roads and trails within the fire perimeter (depicted on the closure map),
  • Trail #137 between the last bridge coming from the Las Conchas Trailhead (before the trail ascends) and the East Fork Trailhead, and
  • segments of Forest Road (FR) 270 south of the fire and FR 4G, 4GA and 4GB on the northwestern point of the burned area.

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Nukes and  Marshmallows

By R.W.

Last year, for the third year in a row, the Energy Department and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board listed the possibility of an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction (criticality) in our neighboring town of Los Alamos as one of the most pressing problems facing the nuclear weapons program.

In a field of zero tolerance for mistakes, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) appears to be performing a high risk act at great cost not just to its employees, as in the possibility offered above, but also to neighboring communities, the country’s taxpayers and possibly to the whole planet. We in the Jemez are one of those neighboring communities, and liable to be among the first to suffer the consequences of the culture of neglect that pervades the lab. There is no emergency notification system for all of us that live in the backyard of the lab, we need to be prepared for surprises, but it would at least be nice to know what these might be.

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More Abandoned Campfires in Santa Fe National Forest

There will be another community meeting tonight at 6 p.m. June 18, 2017 at the Jemez Mountain Baptist Church, 6 Riverview Court, La Cueva, NM. to give the community latest information on the El Cajete Fire.

It has been determined the fire was started by an abandoned campfire. The carelessness of these campers has disrupted peoples’ lives, cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and endangered the lives of hundreds of firefighters. Three more abandoned campfires that needed the attention of fire crews in the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) were reported on the New Mexico Fire Information site. This is happening as smoke billows over the mountains and over 300 firefighters battle the nearby 1.367 El Cajete blaze.

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El Cajete Fire 55 Percent Contained

Yesterday, at 6:00 p.m. the Santa Fe National Forest issued the following update on the El Cajete Fire:

Location:  The fire is burning in the Jemez Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest, on both sides of NM Highway 4 along the southern boundary of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.  The Cajete Fire started approximately one mile northeast of Vallecitos de los Indios.  The fire area runs along the East Fork of the Jemez River and is to the west of the burn scars from the 2011 Las Conchas Fire and the 2013 Thompson Ridge Fire.

Start Date: June 15, 2017     Cause: Abandoned campfire    Size: 1,315 acres     Containment: 55%

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P’êpô?

By R.W.

Mountain Fish.

When I hear the Jemez speak their amazing sounding language I can rarely separate a single word from the flow, let alone catch any of the meaning of what is being said. I have once or twice been coached, by bored Jemez looking for distraction, to utter simple greetings or pronounce the odd name place, only to have my attempts greeted with either puzzlement or total amusement.

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El Cajete Fire Continues to Burn

By R.W.

Photo R.W.

The wind has changed direction from overnight, but otherwise no notable improvements in the behavior of the El Cajete Fire has been observed, with 0 percent of the over 700 acre blaze contained. The good news is that no human casualties or damage to property have been reported, with firefighters taking measures to save structures in the path of the flames. They have been conducting back burns between the fire and people’s homes to create protection zones.

Air temperatures are high, and humidity levels low; forecasts call for these conditions to continue into the foreseeable future, leaving no option but “full suppression” for the fire on part of the firefighting crews. The fire continue to head in a southeasterly direction, just as it was yesterday. Also, just as through most of the day yesterday, NM Highway 4 remains closed from its intersection with  NM Highway 126, above which, on the stretch leading to Valle Grande, the worst fire conditions are occurring.

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El Cajete Fire Still Spreading

By R.W.

Photo R.W.

Heavy smoke drifted down into the Jemez Valley overnight and early this Friday morning.

With the first light of dawn fire crews are back at the El Cajete Fire site. At the moment the fire is reported to have reached the area just west of previous devastation caused by the 2011 Las Conchas Fire, taking out yet another still unburned area of the Jemez Mountain forests. At last report the fire was still 0 percent contained, at about 700 acres and drifting in a southeasterly direction. About 200 hundred people have been evacuated from the area and about 300 structures are considered to be at risk. Thick smoke drifted down the Jemez Valley overnight and into this morning.

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Not Burning Yet

 

Writing for the New Mexico Political Report Laura Paskus reports that in Santa Fe National Forest, officers found 41 abandoned or unattended campfires over Memorial Day weekend, and of that number, on Monday alone, 19 were in the Jemez.  The total for the Jemez for this year is 49 already.

It appears that they were all safely dealt with, the holiday weekend is behind us, and no palls of smoke are visibly rising from the mountains. Thank you Forest Service for dealing with this.

Minor Delays as Valles Caldera Makes Improvements to Main Entrance Road

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE

 

Valles Caldera National Preserve will begin making improvements to the preserve’s main entrance road starting next Tuesday. The road improvement work is being implemented using Congressional funding provided to the National Park Service to reduce its deferred maintenance backlog. Visitors can expect minor traffic delays and congestion while the road work occurs over the next two to three weeks.

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Meet the New Forest Supervisor of the Santa Fe National Forest

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

The Forest Plan Revision team will hold an Open House on Monday, May 15, at the Supervisor’s Office (11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, NM 87508) from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. James Melonas, who became the Forest Supervisor of the Santa Fe National Forest this year in March, will attend the Open House on Monday to meet and greet those who attend.

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The Gilman Tunnels Will Close This Monday

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

 

The Gilman Tunnels on the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) will be closed to both motorized and foot traffic starting on Monday, May 15, 2017, as crews begin work to mitigate immediate danger from falling rocks and stabilize the rock cliffs around the historic landmark.

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First Leak in the Dakota Access Pipeline

By R.W.

News of the leak has only leaked in the last few days, though it occurred over a month ago. The pipeline corporation, Energy Transfer Partners and the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources chose not to make an announcement after the spill took place, since they claim it was a small leak and not a threat to public health or waterways.

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Victory for Public Lands and Families Across America

By Mona Blaber

SIERRA CLUB RIO GRANDE CHAPTER COMMUNICATIONS 

The methane cloud over the Four Corners.

 

Today, every Senate Democrat and three Republicans voted down a procedural vote that would have paved the way for revoking a Bureau of Land Management rule to prevent leaking and flaring of methane from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands.

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Bears Beware, Marathon Returns to Bear Country

By R.W.

A bear.

(Please note comment at end of article)

Around this time last year a marathon pounding through bear country during cub season, caught national attention when a runner was mauled by a bear in the course of the race.  The incident occurred when the runner ran between a mother bear and her cubs. The cubs scampered up a tree, the bear rushed in defense of her cubs biting and clawing at the runner, who took good precaution to protect herself and survived with minor injuries.Continue reading

Forest Service Offers On Site Demonstrations to Explain Treatments to Restore Forest Health

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

 

Members of the public are invited to join Forest Service specialists on a field trip to the La Jara Phase III project area on Friday, May 5, 2017, to learn about planned treatments to restore forest health and protect the La Jara watershed from catastrophic wildfire.

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A Chilly Day

Photos R.W.

Not green.

 

Still, what do you expect from places like Greenland, Iceland and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Plenty of snow was seen and reported to be falling in all these locations at various times last Saturday. Above in not at all green Greenland, as seen on a flight from icy Reykjavik, Iceland to supposedly cosy at this time of the year New Mexico. As the pilot slammed the flight through heavy snowfall into the swirling slush of the runway at the Albuquerque airport he shouted coarsely: “You gotta be kiddin’!”. Some people laughed. One person clapped. Some others resumed normal breathing.

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Standing Up for our National Monuments

By U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

Martin Heinrich addressing the crowd at the celebration of monument designation for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

 

President Trump signed an executive order this week aimed at undermining the Antiquities Act, shrinking, or even eliminating some of the most iconic American places. This executive order threatens many of our most treasured national monuments and public lands across America, including the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments in New Mexico. I for one won’t stand for this action.

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Avalanche Forecasting

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

 

On Tuesday, April 25, Taos Avalanche Center’s Andy Bond will share information about how to enjoy snow in the backcountry safely. His presentation about forecasting avalanche risks is free and open to the public. It is also part of the Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. and includes information about upcoming outings. The presentation will start by 7:15 p.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center.

Valles Caldera Plans Spring Prescribed Burns

By Kimberly DeVall

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE

https://i2.wp.com/d3el53au0d7w62.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/b01_jd_10may_valles-640x401.jpg?resize=640%2C401&ssl=1

 

Valles Caldera National Preserve is planning to implement prescribed burn projects that may begin should conditions allow over the next two months of April and May.  The prescribed burn will be within a 703-acre project area on Valles Caldera National Preserve, north of NM State Route 4 in the Banco Bonito area near mile marker 30. The burn operations will be completed in phases over a total of two to six days and are not expected to cause road closures or disrupt visitor activities elsewhere on the preserve.  Burn days may not necessarily be consecutive as they will depend on weather and fuel conditions.

 

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Community Groups Hold Training to Mobilize Progressive Activists

By Ramona Blaber

SIERRA CLUB RIO GRANDE CHAPTER

Image result for SIERRA CLUB RIO GRANDE CHAPTER

 

What: A Training for Action — If We Organize, We Win

When: 12-5 p.m. Sunday, April 23

Where: South Valley Academy, Albuquerque, 3426 Blake Road SW, Albuquerque 87105

Price: Free. Please register at riograndesierraclub.org

 

Nearly two dozen community groups have joined to offer “A Training For Action,” a community-generated, volunteer-organized event designed to build capacity for emerging and seasoned activists alike.

The training will feature lunch, speakers and workshops, followed by a fiesta with free food and music.

The event is free and open to the public. Free childcare and Spanish-language interpretation will be offered.

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