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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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

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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Stargazing and Free Camping at Bandelier 

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

This Friday and Saturday, June 23-24, will be a great opportunity to get out, go camping at Bandelier, and take a good look at the starry heavens, as the park celebrates their Third Annual Night Sky Fiesta and also the Great American Campout.

For the Night Sky Fiesta, visitors will have the chance to do both daylight and nighttime astronomy. From 10 AM-2 PM on Friday and Saturday, astronomy volunteers will have solar scopes set up on the back porch of the Visitor Center.  These special telescopes have powerful filters that allow observers to safely look directly at the sun.

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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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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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Jemez Fire Slowing but Extent of Blaze Increased to 1,315 Acres     

By R.W.

Photo R.W.

Most of the blaze so far has affected lower level growth, just as in the Pino fire of 2014, shown above, and not been a high intensity crown-top fire.

 

It is still early to tell, but the El Cajete Fire seems to have run into a dead end with burn scars around it, not that much new fuel to feed on and is showing first signs of slowing down.  If the wind does not change direction and pick up too much, the acreage that is currently ablaze might mark most of the extent of this fire.

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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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Another Rough Weekend on the Jemez Ranger District and Vandalism at the Gilman Tunnels

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

The Gilman Tunnels.

Sometimes called the Albuquerque metropolitan area’s “backyard” because of its proximity to the state’s largest city, the Jemez Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) hosts thousands of visitors on any given weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

Unfortunately, a small minority of those visitors can cause huge problems for the forest.

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Red Flag Warning Due to Strong Wind and Low Humidity

Another day, another flag.

The National Weather Service warns that a classic mid June break-down of the upper level ridge pattern is shaping up for today and tomorrow (whatever that means). Humidity is expected to be low and wind speeds high.

The red flag warning started  10 a.m. this morning and will continue  to 9  p.m.  Monday.

The forecast calls for the high pressure to continue to dominate the region today, bringing with it dry, windy, and unseasonably warm conditions for most of New Mexico. Temperatures will begin to cool slightly on Tuesday as an upper level weather system moves through. Temperatures are expected to return to above normal by Thursday and remain there through the remainder of the week.

Any kind of outdoor burning is not recommended. There is no moisture in the forecast for the Jemez area over the next few days.

Dogs Welcome on Santa Fe NF, But Owners Have Responsibilities

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

Last week, a visitor to the Santa Fe National Forest was resting on a rock by the trail after hiking up Tesuque Peak Road from the Aspen Vista Picnic Site.  His idyllic afternoon took a turn for the worse when an 80-pound pit bull – running free – charged him with teeth bared.  The hiker had the wherewithal to thrust his walking stick between his face and the dog’s jaws.  Then the dog took another try, knocking the 74-year-old 150-pound man off the rock.

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Desert Blooms

Photos R.W.

Rising above the wetlands of the Perea Nature Walk just south of San Ysidro are fairly undisturbed areas of higher ground, sandy soil responding to the season and recent moisture. While the lushness of the wetlands draws most attention, the ground above is having a great spring, with a wide variety of plants in full bloom. Here’s a (unscientific, unlabeled) survey:

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Blowdowns and Deadfall Hazards on Trails in Santa Fe National Forest

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

 

As peak recreation season gets underway on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF), hikers, cyclists, equestrians and other trail users should be prepared for the possibility of fallen trees and tangled brush impeding their way.

As recent reports of a blowdown in the Pecos Wilderness make clear, it’s not uncommon for weather, winds and other natural events to bring trees down over the winter.  Forest Service staff and volunteers are getting out into the field and reporting back on what they find, which seems – at least anecdotally – to be worse than usual.

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Exploring Lechuguilla Cave

Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Lechuguilla Cave

 

James Hunter talks about exploring Lechuguilla Cave, described as the most beautiful cave in the world at the Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting On Tuesday, May 23. Hunter’s talk will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center.

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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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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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