Deer Creek Fire and Other Forest News

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

 

Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to manage the lightning-caused Deer Creek Fire on Peggy Mesa by using low-intensity fire on the ground to achieve multiple resource benefits.

The Deer Creek Fire started Sept. 15 on Peggy Mesa in the old San Diego prescribed burn area and adjacent to the site of this summer’s lightning-caused Peggy Fire.  Objectives for managing the Deer Creek Fire include:

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Hard Work Pays Off On Bandelier’s Frijoles Canyon Trail  

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Photo NPS

Trail tread before and after rehab

One of Bandelier National Monument’s most scenic and popular trails, the Frijoles Canyon Trail between Upper Crossing and Alcove House, can now be hiked without having to climb over the huge logjams and other barriers caused by the floods following the 2011 Las Conchas Fire.   For several years volunteer crews have been gradually working their way up the canyon, making spaces in the debris piles, removing hundreds of fallen trees, and re-establishing the trail tread.  In places a new trail alignment had to be located and approved.  Then this year, efforts included not only the Bandelier staff and local volunteers, but also the Rocky Mountain and YMCA Youth Corps.  With everyone’s hard work, there is again a real trail for the entire five-mile distance, and the effects of the floods are impressive parts of the landscape rather than obstacles.

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Deer Creek Fire Smoke Rises Over the Nascimientos

Photos R.W.

Smoke from the lightning strike caused Deer Creek Fire has now become visible in the southern parts of the Jemez Valley.  It started on Sept. 18 when it was estimated at about eight acres, but has most likely grown by now. No new reports on its progress have yet been posted  on New Mexico Fire Information or the Santa Fe National Forest sites.

The fire is burning on the Jemez Ranger District next to the site of the Peggy Fire.

 

Night Sky Observation Event Offered in Valles Caldera

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Photo Jim Stein Photography

Night sky hanging over the Valle Grande.

 

The Valles Caldera offers some of the darkest skies in our area and is a great place to get a better look at the night sky on clear nights.

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) working with the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VALL) offers a night sky observation event on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. PEEC astronomers Galen Gisler, Dave North, Akkana Peck, and Rick Wallace along with VALL park rangers will point out constellations, planets, and other celestial objects with the help of telescopes and lasers.

They will use lasers to reveal constellations and other celestial objects visible to the naked eye and also set up telescopes to give a closer look at planets, star clusters, and celestial objects visible that night.

This event is free to the public, aside from the VALL entrance fee. No registration is required. To attend, meet at the Valles Caldera National Preserve Visitor Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. For more information about this and other Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) programs, visit www.peecnature.org, emailprograms@peecnature.org or call (505) 662-0460.

 

 

Smoke Rising Over Gilman and Two Other Fires in Santa Fe National Forest

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

Three lightning-caused fires on the Santa Fe National Forest are putting up visible smoke today as crews keep an eye on the Deer Creek, Beaver Creek, and Ojitos Fires.

A lightning strike on Friday started the Deer Creek Fire, estimated at about eight acres, on the Jemez Ranger District next to the site of the Peggy Fire which started on July 18.  As crews monitor the Deer Creek Fire, which is about 2 miles northwest of the Gilman Tunnels, smoke has been reported from US Highway 550 and may impact the Pueblo of Jemez and the communities of Gilman and Cañon.

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California Condors Back from the Brink

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Photo by Joe Fitzgibbon.

A very rare visitor to New Mexico, this California Condor flew into Los Alamos in April, 2015. 

The largest bird in North America, which existed only in captivity in the last 1980’s, is taking to the skies in growing numbers, and its story will be told at the Los Alamos Nature Center on Tuesday, Sept.19 at 7 p.m. Four condor experts, Bette Korber, Melissa Moore, Shorty Esch, and Jeanne Fair, will talk about the California Condor’s story and bird science conducted at LANL. This free presentation is open to the public.

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Large Animals Thrive in the Jemez in Improved Forest Conditions

Video: New Mexico State University. 

An article in the Las Cruces Sun-News explores the results of habitat restoration  through prescribed burns and forest thinning that have been part of the Southwest Jemez Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project.

The study results so far give interesting insights into the changing conditions into the Santa Fe National Forest and Valles Caldera National Preserve in the mountains above us.

The link to the article is here.

 

Bandelier and Friends of Bandelier Introduce New Wilderness Ranger

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Photo:  NPS Photo

Bandelier Wilderness Ranger Bob Loy  

Bandelier National Monument recently welcomed their newest seasonal ranger, Colonel (RET) Bob Loy.  Ranger Loy will serve as the Dorothy Hoard Wilderness Ranger at Bandelier. The position is sponsored by the Friends of Bandelier as a memorial to the founder of the organization, Dorothy Hoard, who was also instrumental in the designation of the Bandelier Wilderness.  According to Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott, “Many people know of Dorothy because of her guidebook to hiking in the park.  It’s so appropriate to have a ranger specifically for the wilderness, to help visitors appreciate and understand it as Dorothy did.”

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Why So Blue

By R.W.

The Sandias as seen from U.S. 550 during the last few days.

There is a fairly contained, small, piñon/juniper wildfire burning nearby, on Borrego Mesa, and a prospect of several prescribed burns later this month on the Española Ranger District, just announced by the Santa Fe National Forest. None of that is, or will be, responsible for the smoke blurring our horizons and creeping into our bedrooms now, and likely to continue doing so through the rest of this Summer and into Fall.

This smoke blowing our way, and across the lower 48, is from the wildfires burning through the Northwest and Midwest, including vast conflagrations in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho,  Montana, Utah and British Columbia.

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Eclipses and Phantoms

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

 

On Friday, September 9, at 7 PM in the Los Alamos Nature Center planetarium, three local astronomers, who watched the eclipse from within the path of totality, will share stories, photos, data, and videos from the August 21st total solar eclipse.

The full-dome film Phantom of the Universe will play in the planetarium at 2 PM on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10.

Phantom of the Universe, a film that uncovers the heavenly mystery of dark matter, can be seen at 2 PM on September 9 and 10 in the nature center planetarium. The film traces existence back to its beginning, stretching through space and time to reveal its unique connection to the Large Hadron Collider.

For more information about these and future planetarium shows, please visit www.peecnature.org/planetarium. To reserve tickets, call (505) 662-0460.

 

A Few Glimpses Through the Clouds

Photos R.W.

Not the best solar eclipse viewing conditions. I hope the people who paid thousands for their airbnb shelters all down the eclipse track, had clearer skies. Here in New Mexico, with a 75 percent eclipse, the moon was clearly visible partly obstructing the sun, and a gentle murk settled in for a few moments, interrupting an otherwise bright, partly overcast day.

Here are a few shots of discs in the sky interacting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Is Hard To See the Sun Through Clouds, So…

 

…just in case it turns out the way the forecasters predict (mostly cloudy), you can sit back where you normally sit back (not healthy, I know, but…) and get the full experience of a NASA sponsored total eclipse.

On the day of the eclipse go to www.nasa.gov/eclipselive(link is external)(link is external), where you will be directed by default to the NASA TV broadcast. The broadcast starts at 12 noon EDT and will connect with many of the NASA broadcasts distributed across the country.

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See the Solar Eclipse in the Valles Caldera Tomorrow

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE

The Great American Eclipse is coming, and everyone is invited to the Valles Caldera National Preserve to watch it.

Join rangers to witness and learn more about this spectacular natural event, free of charge, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 at the Valle Grande Entrance Station on N.M. 4. The maximum partial eclipse will be reached at approximately 11:45 a.m. MDT, Monday.
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Bandelier Honors Youth Work Crews

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

NPS Photo

Members of the 2017 Bandelier Conservation Corps, Bandelier Preservation Corps, and the Abiquiu-Ghost Ranch Crew.

Recently, a graduation ceremony at Bandelier National Monument honored three youth crews organized through the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for their ten weeks of summer work.  The Bandelier Conservation Corps worked on trails in the park, the Bandelier Preservation Corps stabilized ancient stone walls in the archeological sites in Frijoles Canyon, and the Abiquiu-Ghost Ranch Crew did trail building and improvement near Abiquiu Lake and at Ghost Ranch.  All three crews worked hard outdoors, learning to use hand tools, assessing the best approaches for needed work, and perhaps most importantly, working together with other crew members and supervisors.

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Are You a Stone Monkey?

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

 Join Forest Altherr for a presentation about his climbing experiences in Yosemite.

At the Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 22 Forest Altherr will talk about his rock climbing experiences in Yosemite. The presentation will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center. The Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting will start at 7 p.m. and cover information about upcoming outings.
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Bad Day for Bad Bird

At the top of the news this weekend: forces of nature (Physics,  centrifugal forces, mostly) thwart  theft.

Please identify bird below and send information to either comments on this page or in Facebook.

 

At first all went well, and Bad Bird (BB) got a few deeply drawn sucks of nectar. 

 

But then, something strange began to happen…

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Reward for Information on Elk Poaching

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Bandelier rangers offer reward for information on elk poaching.

Between the evening of August 3rd and morning of August 4th 2017,  an elk was poached within Bandelier National Monument.  Evidence was collected at the scene and some parts of the poached elk were taken by the suspects.  The incident occurred along Highway 4 near milepost 44 near Cerro Grande. The elk was on the south side of the road.  If you observed a vehicle stopped along the road during this time, Bandelier law enforcement rangers want to know about it.

If you have any information you believe may be related, please call 505-672-3861 extension 401 or 402. Bandelier National Monument is offering a reward of $3,000 for information leading to the prosecution of those involved.

Join Local Expert for Monthly Wildflower Walk

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Inline image 2

On Monday, August 14 at 5:30 p.m., join Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s Jemez Mountain Herbarium curator, Chick Keller, for an easy walk to identify local wildflower species in bloom on the Pajarito Plateau. Wildflower Walks are free, and no advance registration is required.

Wildflower Walks take place one Monday a month, but the viewing season is coming to a close. Don’t miss the next outing on September 11th before the chill of fall sets in! Participants will receive a plant list and that, along with instruction from Keller, will help them learn how to identify wildflowers currently blooming in Los Alamos.

The group will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center, located at 2600 Canyon Road, to carpool to the trailhead.

For more information about this and other PEEC programs, visit www.peecnature.org, email programs@peecnature.org or call (505) 662-0460.

The Effects of Climate Change on Hummingbird Populations 

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

On Saturday, August 12th, researcher Bob Walker will lead two groups, one at 7:30 AM and one at 9:30 AM, to the hummingbird monitoring site in Bandelier National Monument. This location is one of a network of sites in the Western U.S. that tracks the impact of climate change on the movement and behavior of hummingbirds. To join one of the groups, visit peecnature.org to register. This is a free program offered by Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC).

These tours will start from the Los Alamos Nature Center and carpool to the site. The first hummingbird monitoring session will meet at 7:30 AM and the second will meet at 9:30 AM. Registration is required for this event, and admission is free. This program is open to individuals ages 12 and older.

For more information about these and other Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) programs, and to register for the count, visit www.peecnature.org, email programs@peecnature.org or call (505) 662-0460.

Not-Pets At Large

Photos R.W.

Beasts on the ground, and in the water and in the sky. They keep a wary eye on us, can’t blame them, we’re pretty dangerous, but sometimes they allow us access within a gentle zoom.

This one proudly bearing a tag.

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Peggy Fire Versus Flash Flood

By R.W.

It’s all happening out there if you believe weather forecasts and forest fire updates. What’s there to not believe as we sniff little wafts of smoke in our bedrooms and strain to hear rain pattering on our roofs.

It is quite clear though, that this is a cruel world where some get soaked time and time again, while others stay gasping in the dust. These monsoon-like events are so unevenly distributed where some of us sadly return home with vehicles still dripping from the shower we struggled through with our wipers maxing out on fast to be greeted by a dust devil in the driveway.Continue reading

Smoke from Peggy Fire Still Rises Above the Jemez

Photos R.W.

Smoke from Peggy Fire as seen on NM Highway 4 just north of the schools.

The Peggy Fire, now in ite ninth day, has reached almost 600 acres. Dianne A. Berry, of the Santa Fe National Forest issued this information: “Fire crews took advantage of favorable weather conditions yesterday to make good progress through both ponderosa pine and piñon/juniper vegetation controlled ignitions.  Interior spot fires continue to be moderated by the minimal needle litter and ladder fuels in the San Diego prescribed fire treatment area.  Crews will continue controlled burning operations as conditions allow.”

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Photographing the Solar Eclipse Workshop at the Nature Center

By Sandra West

 PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Photo Fraser Goff

On Tuesday, August 1st at 7 p.m., come to the Los Alamos Nature Center for an overview of the upcoming eclipse, followed by a fascinating photography tutorial. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear from Rick Wallace and Fraser Goff about eclipse geometry, safe solar viewing, and more.Continue reading

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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(Fake) Drama Above and Below and (Illegal Leaks of) Fire and Water

Photos R.W.

Update SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

The Peggy Fire as seen from a mesa in Red Rocks.

Do not believe what you hear or what you see. You might have read on these pages chilling warnings against life threatening  walls of storm water rushing down arroyos and calm reassurances about low intensity puffs of smoke lingering through the morning. Well…

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Rufous Loses Control

Photos R.W.

Ever since he arrived on the scene Mr. Rufous ruled the space around the feeder not allowing any other hummer the slightest sip. His aerial acrobatic reflexes, skills and tactics were quite impressive as he kept swarms of others of his kind at bay.

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Power Surges Sweep Away Carefully Assembled Pixels

By R.W.

It was a dark and stormy late afternoon…

Well, there was at least a definite movement of air and little globs of rain could be observed hitting the ground here and there. This catastrophic meteorological event (climate change?) that shook the valley surged into my hard drive picking up a cloud of pixels and swept them into deep space leaving my desktop device an empty shell, screen all drained of life, blank, not even blue any more.

As time passed and electric panic passed, surge after surge, familiar looking hopeful suggestions in a bold, archaic white on black font, loomed out of the digital darkness on the monitor and eventually, after nearly a whole day, led to a miraculous recovery. The Jemez Post is back.

Electricity is cheap in the Jemez, thank you Coop, can’t complain about that, but these violent electric events that fry electric devices and call for bigger and better protective devices can be costly.

I will now peer into the world wide web, but glancing out of the window all the time, with my hand firmly grasping the power cable, ready to yank it off the grid at the slightest draft or drifting cloudlets threatening moisture.

 

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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They’re Back and This Time They’re Hungry – Tent Caterpillars Munching Aspens Again        

 

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

If you drive up NM State Highway 475 (the road to the Santa Fe Ski Basin) anytime soon, you will probably notice something going on in the aspen groves that create one of the most popular vistas on the Santa Fe National Forest.

To the casual observer, the aspens may appear to be dying.  But those bare branches signal the return of the western tent caterpillars, native defoliators whose larvae feed on a variety of hardwood trees species.  At least here in New Mexico, they seem to be particularly fond of aspen.

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