The  VALLECITO LEGEND 

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Previous Months News Items
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October, 2005 Hurricane Relief Benefit Story & Photos
   
(Click here.)

November, 2005

Comments Sought on Proposed Junction Creek
Fuels Reduction Project
 

	The Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest is soliciting
comments on a proposal to thin smaller ponderosa pine and mow/mulch Gambel
oak and other shrub species on approximately 899 acres of National Forest
land in the Junction Creek area to reduce the risk of destructive wildfire.
The project area is located approximately five miles north of Durango and
is bordered on the south and east by private land. The proposed
implementation date for the project would be summer of 2006.
 
	The proposed action involves thinning ponderosa pine to break up the
horizontal continuity of the forest canopy and take the first step toward
restoring the pre-settlement structure of the forest. The treatment would
also involve using mechanical equipment to mow dense Gambel oak in the
forest understory, remove ladder fuels, and treat the fuel loading in the
shrub layer.  The proposed action will change fire behavior, reduce the
rate of fire spread and intensity, and lower the probability of a
destructive wildfire occurring in the area.
 
	Approximately 3.25 miles of existing temporary roads would have to be
reopened and 1.95 miles of new temporary roads constructed to create access
for forestry and mowing equipment to the treatment areas. The project would
also require reopening of Forest Service roads Log Chutes 1 and 3 (5.6
miles). Any temporary access roads would be decommissioned (physically
closed, blocked with natural materials, drained and reseeded) at the
conclusion of the project.
 
For more information, or to submit your comments, please contact:
Craig K. Sullivan, Columbine Ranger District, 
PO Box 439, Bayfield CO 81122, (970)
884-1422, or FAX (970) 884-2428, 
or 
cksullivan@fs.fed.us
 by November 30, 2005. 
The Forest Service will consider all comments received to determine
the appropriate level of environmental documentation needed.
 

March 3, 2006

For Immediate Release:  March 3,2006
Input Sought on Proposed Forest Lakes 2 Fuels Reduction Project
 
The Columbine Field Office/Ranger District of the BLM/Forest Service is
accepting comments on a proposal to reduce hazardous fuels on approximately
550 acres of Forest Service, BLM, and State lands approximately 8 miles
north of Bayfield, Colorado, east of County Road 501 and north of the
Forest Lakes subdivision.
 
The proposal calls for thinning and mowing young ponderosa pine and white
fir trees as well as small amounts of Gambel oak. Some merchantable timber
products are likely to be removed over county roads through the
subdivision.  Temporary roads, not exceeding a mile in length, may be
constructed on the BLM in order to remove trees.  Temp roads will be
demolished and reclaimed upon project completion.  The entire project area
would be additionally treated in the future with prescribed fire in order
to maintain the benefits of the mechanical treatment and to promote forest
health.
 
The thinned and mowed areas will provide more effective barriers to the
rapid spread of wildfires, which will reduce risk to life, property, and
natural resources.  The project will have secondary benefits for wildlife
habitat and overall forest health.
 
Although the state section was logged in the late 1980’s, there is no
record and no distinct evidence that the BLM or Forest Service lands have
been altered by significant human disturbance.  If approved, the project
would be implemented in 2007.
 
 
For more information, or to submit input, please contact Beth Jones,
Columbine FO/RD, P.O. Box 439, Bayfield CO 81122, (970) 884-1426,
maryjones@fs.fed.us, by April 1st, 2006.
 
 
Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and
addresses of those who comment will be considered part of the public record
for this proposed action and will be available for public inspection. The
BLM/Forest Service will consider all comments received and issues generated
to determine the appropriate level of environmental documentation needed.
 
 
Ann Bond
Public Affairs Specialist
San Juan Public Lands Center
15 Burnett Court
Durango, CO 81301
970 385-1219
abond@fs.fed.us
 
 
May 20, 2006
 
DURANGO INTERAGENCY FIRE DISPATCH
 
U.S. Forest Service * Bureau of Land Management * National Park Service
Bureau of Indian Affairs * Colorado State Forest Service
 
 For Immediate Release: May 30, 2006
 
FIRE RESTRICTIONS TAKE EFFECT IN SOUTHWEST COLORADO
 
In cooperation with Montezuma County and other land management agencies,
fire restrictions will go into effect on Friday, June 2, in Zone 1, the
lower-elevation zone, of the San Juan Public Lands (San Juan National
Forest and Bureau of Land Management San Juan Field Office).
 
The restrictions will be Stage 1 restrictions which mean:
 
bullet
campfires are limited to permanent fire rings or grates within
        	developed campgrounds;
bullet
 smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, or 3-ft. wide areas
	cleared of vegetation;
bullet
chainsaws and other internal-combustion engines must have approved,
	working spark arresters;
bullet
acetylene and other torches with an open flame may not be used; and,
bullet
the use of explosives is prohibited.
 
By restricting campfires to campgrounds, fire managers hope to reduce the
risk of an escaped fire from a hot, untended campfire. Over the Memorial
Day weekend several unattended campfires were found. With the dry
conditions in our lower elevations and the high winds that the area
experienced, it's just sheer luck that we didn't have another big fire this
weekend,  according to Mark Lauer, Fire Management Officer for the San Juan
Public Lands.
 
The use of fireworks is prohibited on all Forest Service and BLM lands,
regardless of zone.
 
In 2003, fire managers divided the San Juan Public Lands, which include the
San Juan National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management-San Juan Center,
into two zones, Zone 1 and Zone 2, which basically correspond to lower-
and higher-elevation zones. The change to zones was very well received by
the public, law enforcement, outfitters-guides, and others. said Mark
Stiles, Forest Supervisor and Center Manager.
 
The zones are not based strictly on elevation or vegetation type because it
was necessary to find some definable features to describe the boundary
between zones for better public understanding and compliance. From Highway
550 east to Wolf Creek Pass, the low zone includes all San Juan Public
Lands outside of the South San Juan and Weminuche Wildernesses. West of
Highway 550 over to the Utah border, fire managers have used roads and
trails to define the Zone 1, which basically includes lands south of
Kennebec Pass, Spruce Mill Road, and the West Dolores Road.
 
All BLM-San Juan Center lands, including Canyons of the Ancients National
Monument, are in Zone 1, except for those located near Silverton in San
Juan and Ouray counties.
 
People may have to use a part of the forest that they are not familiar
with if they want to have a campfire outside of a campground, said Stiles,
but at least they still have that opportunity with the zones.
 
There are three stages of fire restrictions available to federal fire
managers. Stages 1, 2, and 3, with Stage 1 being the least restrictive and
Stage 3 the most restrictive.  The need to go to Stage 2 restrictions could
be triggered by either continued dry weather or an increase in human-caused
fires.
 
Fire managers look at fuel moistures and other indices to determine the
fire danger, as well as some subjective factors, when deciding whether to
institute fire restrictions. All our dead and down fuels are exhibiting
very low fuel moistures, and the annual grasses, like cheatgrass, have
begun to cure out, increasing the chances of a human-caused fire escaping,
said Lauer. Fuel moistures in live green fuels are starting to peak and
will be decreasing over future weeks.
 
Fire managers look at the long-range outlook not only for weather, but also
the availability of firefighting resources. Right now we are still in good
shape in southwest Colorado, said Lauer, We have some additional
resources on hand as a precaution due to the dry conditions.
 
Firefighters have responded to almost 70 fires in southwest Colorado this
year, ranging in size from 1/10 of an acre to over 500 acres.  The Durango
Airtanker Base has already gone through more than 100,000 gallons of
retardant this year, much of it on last week's Black Ridge Fire on Southern
Ute lands, and also in assisting on numerous fires in New Mexico and Utah.
 
A permanent single-engine air tanker (SEAT) base was recently completed at
the Cortez Municipal Airport and a SEAT will be available when needed.
Current aerial resources stationed in the area include two Type 3
helicopters - one at the Hesperus Helibase and one at the Ute Mountain Ute
agency, a National Type 2 helicopter stationed in Durango, and one heavy
airtanker stationed at the Durango Airtanker Base. Additional firefighters
and/or engines are also stationed at the Dolores, Bayfield, and Pagosa
Springs Offices to assist with initial attack on new fire starts and
provide 7-day coverage.
 
Flyers describing the current restrictions will be posted across the public
lands at trailheads, campgrounds, and entry areas. Maps showing the two
zones will be available at Public Lands Offices in Pagosa, Bayfield,
Durango, and Dolores, as well as at Visitor Centers and on the Web by the
end of the week.
 
Fire restrictions went into effect today on Southern Ute lands and in
Montezuma County, and will go into effect on Ute Mountain Ute lands on June
1.  Mesa Verde National Park is also in restrictions. Fire restrictions
throughout Colorado may be found at
http://www.dola.state.co.us/oem/PublicInformation/firebans/firenews.html
  
(See attached file: fire_restrictions_news_release_0530.doc)
  
Pamella Wilson
Fire Information Officer
San Juan Public Lands Center
970-385-1230
970-799-1203 (cell)
e-mail:  plwilson@fs.fed.us
 

 

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Copyright 2005 Gary D. Courtney