Monday, August 1, 2011

More on the SWNSC Trail Update

This is a further update from Lynn Bjorklund of USFS and SWNSC club member in addition to the one from Clay posted above.
Here is a further update. The BAER team has approved a seeding and mulching treatment on that severely burned portion. We were limited to Barley grass only because it doesn't persist or form a rhizomatous structure. Apparently the delicate Jemez Mtn Salamandars can't pop up through a dense grass matt to breed. They spend most days underground and likely survived the fire. When they pop out to breed they likely won't like what they see, so breeding activities may not occur anyway. However, being a threatened and endangered species, there are stict regulations on what we can and can't do in their habitat. The seeding and mulching should occur this next week.
Also within the next couple of weeks the FS is contracting with a felling team to cut snags and hazard trees off the route. Quite a bit of snagging and trail clearing has already taken place. The hope is to get this safe enough to allow trail surface work and have it open to the public. I have put in a request for further funds to do the trail work as described below by Clay. The SWNS club would have a lot of say as to what should be done, and perhaps could even help. That is provided we get that funding. We are competing region wide with fires like the 500,000 Wallow fire in Arizona. I also have a request for a snow fence for the 1km of severely burned trail.

The fire closure order will likely come out next week. I was in disagreement with how it was presented. Since it is a legal document that covers such a huge area, the Forest wanted to keep it simple. Therefore they show all of the Forest around Los Alamos closed and then describe exceptions, which should include all of the unburned and unaffected trails. Know that as trails become safe after felling operations we likely may be able to open some up. Trails that are scheduled for hazard tree removal are the Canada Bonita trails (1st priority), Perimeter trail south of Quemazon, and the Guaje Ridge Trail from Pipeline to Mitchell. Trails that are truly unsafe and very difficult to traverse anyway are Water Canyon, Valle Canyon, upper Guaje Canyon, Knapp Trail, Los Alamos Canyon trail, and Caballo Mtn Trail. Pajarito Canyon and the Nail trail are not as bad, but still somewhat hazardous. If anyone does 'happen' to find themselves in these severe burned areas, be really heads up for trees that can fall. Some may look solid, but the roots or interior are burned out and they can fall over very quickly. On steep canyon slopes, big rocks can get dislodged and they roll down very fast and unpredictably. All this even if there isn't a thunderstorm or flash flood. Add that, and the dangers go up dramatically.

A tour with Clay and other SWNSC members is planned in the near future to discuss what it would take to get the area safe for winter operations or fall recreation events like the Pajarito Trail fest. Here is where the partership with the Forest Service could be good and bad. The bad meaning that the FS is obligated to be much more conservative in trying to protect public safety than most people may really want, especially with that cost share partnership. As Clay mentioned, understanding and flexibility would be the key operative words to recovery and restoration. I hope to do everything I can to help.

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