Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fern Lake Fire Officially Called Out

Rocky Mountain National Park officials announced yesterday that the Fern Lake Fire is no longer burning.

An infrared flight over Forest Canyon in Rocky Mountain National Park confirmed that the wildfire is officially out. The fire started as a result of an illegal campfire on October 9, 2012, in steep and rugged Forest Canyon. Firefighters from across the country battled the fire for two months. Park fire managers knew from the beginning this fire was going to be a long-term event. There was limited opportunity to fight the fire directly because of high winds, steep terrain, and beetle-killed trees.

On the night of November 30, and the early morning of December 1, strong winds pushed the fire more than three miles in thirty-five minutes, prompting evacuation orders. Through careful planning and rapid action, firefighters successfully prevented the fire from progressing across Bear Lake Road and leaving the park. The nearly 3,500 acre blaze was temporarily halted by an early December snowstorm. The last time smoke was seen on the Fern Lake Fire was January 7.

This high-elevation winter fire was unprecedented in park history. Large fires in high elevations of the Rocky Mountains are different from many other areas of the country. They are infrequent and have the potential for high consequences. Largely inaccessible, Forest Canyon had been untouched by fire for at least 800 years. A long-term drought had left fuels tinder-dry in a dead and down fuel layer that in some areas exceeds twenty feet deep. Mountain pine beetles had killed half the trees in the canyon, with every compromised tree posing a hazard for firefighters. The typically windy conditions in the canyon only increased the danger.

Although the Fern Lake Fire has been called out, the Big Meadows Fire on the west side of the park is still active. It started on June 10 from lightning, and is 95 percent contained. It is expected to be active throughout the summer in a remote area consisting of steep, rugged terrain with over 80 percent beetle-killed trees.

Wildfire experts expect these types of fires to continue at this level unless conditions change. Continued drought will intensify the number of fires in our forests. The trend indicates larger and more rapidly spreading fires. The number of acres burned nationally has been at historic highs for six of the last nine years. There is no indication that this trend will reverse soon.

These fires serve as a reminder that our surrounding communities exist in a fire adapted ecosystem. The best thing we can do to prepare our homes for wildfire and to keep our firefighters safe is to utilize FireWise concepts. Go to FireWise.org for assistance or contact your local fire department. We should also prepare ourselves and our families for possible evacuation by pre-planning and preparing what we will take when we have to leave. Visit Ready.gov for further information. Register all phones and email addresses for emergency notifications through your county emergency communications system. Connect with friends and neighbors to be each other's backup plan in case there are technical difficulties with phone systems and evacuation orders.

With the increased hazards due to beetle-killed forests, firefighter tactics have become more indirect to ensure their safety. As firefighting resources diminish across the country we will need to be increasingly mindful of preparedness in our communities and safe practices when fighting fires in the park.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Spring runoff damages roads across Sulphur Ranger District

With late snows and a large spring runoff, some U.S. Forest Service roads on the Sulphur Ranger District have experienced significant damage. The 442,000-acre district is located near Granby in Grand County, along the southwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park.

The district’s travel management team works diligently each spring to convert as many roads as possible to summer use by June 15. Gates that are closed in the winter to protect resources and allow for snowmobile activity are swung open to allow motor vehicle traffic.

This year, the crew is running into sinkholes large enough to trap a car, landslides, slumps and culvert blow outs. A closed gate likely means the damage is impassable by standard vehicles. The district is working closely with the county to prioritize and complete repairs with limited funding. In other areas, roads are open and hazards are marked. Proceed with caution around these hazards.

The status of roads is frequently changing. The best way to get the most current status is to call Visitor Information at 970-887-4100 or check the district’s road status page.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rocky Mountain Trail Updates

Rocky Mountain National Park officials made several announcements on their Facebook page this afternoon, some concerning hiking trails in the park:

* On the west side of RMNP, the Lower Tonahutu Trail, Green Mountain Trail and Onahu Trail leading up to Big Meadows have reopened for day use only. The trails had been closed since June 11th as a result of the Big Meadows Fire. The upper Tonahutu Trail still remains closed.

* The bridge near Calypso Cascades has reopened.



* Old Fall River Road is currently closed to all uses from top and bottom thru July 2. Starting July 3 it will be open for the season to vehicles. The Chasm Falls Trail will also reopen that day.

* Flowers are starting to bloom on the tundra! Elk are moving to higher elevations. Baby animals are showing up; be sure to leave them alone and give the moms plenty of space.

* Smoke can happen, either from the Big Meadows Fire or other western fires, depending on atmospheric conditions.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Historic Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout available to rent starting this summer

The Clear Creek Ranger District announced last week that the Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout on the Arapaho National Forest near Idaho Springs will be available to the public. Starting July 1, 2013, members of the public will be able to rent the lookout for overnight stays.

The Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout is listed in the National Historic Lookout Register and is available for overnight rental starting July 1, 2013 throughout the year. Renters will have the chance to experience staying in a fire lookout with an incredible panoramic view of Denver, Mount Evans and other snow-capped peaks.

Volunteers from the Colorado and Utah chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association have been working with the U.S. Forest Service since 2007 to restore the lookout to its historic state. The lookout tower contains a 1930s era fire finder and historic photos depicting the life of a Forest Service fire lookout.

Squaw Mountain is the first fire lookout tower available for rent near the Front Range.

“We think people will enjoy this one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend a few nights in a historic lookout that is situated in a rustic, beautiful setting,” said Deb Ryon, acting Clear Creek District Ranger.

The fee is $80 per night plus a $9 reservation fee. The Squaw Mountain Lookout accommodates up to four people and includes an electric stove, refrigerator, heat, beds, table and chairs, dishes and outdoor toilet. Guests must hike a mile from the parking area on a steep dirt road to the Lookout, packing in all water and supplies. Guests must pack out all garbage. Fees generated pay for lookout operation and maintenance.

Once the lookout is open, people will be able to make reservations online by visiting the National Recreation Reservation Service at www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

For more information or questions please call Clear Creek Ranger District Visitor Center at (303) 567-3000.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Understanding Survival

In this episode of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife outdoor survival video series, outdoor expert Peter Kummerfeldt discusses weather, lightning and altitude:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Royal Gorge re-opens for whitewater rafting

A section of the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge managed by the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area will re-open for whitewater boating today.

A 10-mile stretch of the river through the Royal Gorge was closed for over a week due to the Royal Gorge fire. Following the fire, it was determined that cables and debris presented a significant safety hazard to boaters. Whitewater rafting and kayaking through the gorge was suspended until mediation measures could be completed.

Alpine Cable & Construction, Inc., the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Rock & Rail Railroad and river rangers from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area completed mediation measures Friday when they removed six cables that had fallen into the Arkansas River. The goal was to clear the river of boating hazards and that operation is now complete.

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area stretches for 152-miles from just below Leadville to Lake Pueblo State Park. All portions of the river are now open for whitewater boating with blue skies, bright sunshine and warm temperatures providing the perfect setting for a family adventure!


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, June 21, 2013

Celebrate National Grasslands Week with a trip to the Pawnee

The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests invites you to come and celebrate National Grasslands Week, June 23-29, by experiencing all the Pawnee National Grassland has to offer.

From hiking to birding to stargazing, there is something on the grassland for everyone. The Pawnee National Grassland (PNG) is one of 20 national grasslands, located in 13 states. These 193,060 acres of prairie are located in northern Weld County.

The Pawnee National Grassland is often identified by the Pawnee Buttes that jut out more than 200 feet from the prairie floor. There is a newly reconstructed trailhead and three-mile, round-trip trail at the Buttes to introduce visitors to this geological find located on the eastern side of the grassland. Foot or animal traffic is welcomed, but mountain bikes are prohibited.

People travel to the PNG from all over the globe to experience first-class birding. More than 300 bird species have been seen on the grassland. Although the time has passed for most migrating birds, many nesting birds are still making the PNG their home. Swainson, red-tailed, and ferruginous hawks, as well as Lark Buntings and burrowing owls, are just a few birds visitors may spot. Get out early in the morning or later in the afternoon for the best viewing. There is also a bird tour with interpretive signs on the PNG.

Other opportunities for enjoying this local gem include driving the Pawnee Pioneer Trail Scenic and Historic Byway and camping under the starry sky. The Byway takes a traveler north of Briggsdale, Colo., off State Highway 14, through much of the PNG, and back down to State Highway 14. Those choosing to head off the main routes should know that many of these roads become virtually impassable if the area has received recent rain.

The Crow Valley Campground on the west side provides a developed area to set up your tent or RV. Dispersed camping is also a popular activity on the PNG. There is a mixed land ownership pattern on the PNG, so pick up a map.

Before heading out everyone should stop by or call the PNG Visitor Information Office at 660 O Street in Greeley (970-346-5000) or the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland Visitor Information Office at 2150 Centre Ave, Building E, in Fort Collins (970-295-6700).

Remember, facilities are limited on the grassland. Bring plenty of water and have a full tank of gas before heading out.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Big Meadows Fire to be Transitioned to the Type III Interagency Team

In the final update on the Big Meadows Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park, fire managers announced on Inciweb this morning that they will begin the process of transitioning management of the fire back to the Type III interagency team. Though fire crews have built secure fire lines, interior burning within the Big Meadows Fire may still occasionally be seen throughout the summer, until a significant weather event puts the fire out. Fire managers will continue to monitor the fire until they are confident it's completely out.

The park is likely to see a change in the weather over the next two days, and particularly this afternoon. The forecast calls for winds of 20 to 30 mph out of the southwest, with gusts reaching as high as 40 mph. Temperatures will be slightly higher, accompanied by lower relative humidity. It's possible that pockets of heat in the fire interior may produce visible smoke.

The Big Meadows Fire is now considered to be 95% contained, and the fire remains at 604 acres.


Inciweb also noted in a separate release that on the morning of Sunday, June 16th, a firefighter walking with his crew from field spike camp to the fireline, collapsed due to sudden cardiac arrest during the Big Meadows Fire. Prompt action by the firefighter’s crew in administering CPR, and the rapid response of fire-line Paramedics that arrived minutes later, contributed to the successful resuscitation of the patient, Luther E. Larkin, Sr. Mr. Larkin, 51, is a senior crew member of the Horseshoe Meadow Type I Interagency Hotshots based out of Sequoia National Forest in California.

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was used on site to resuscitate him. The presence of an AED, and the availability of advanced medical care on the fireline was critical to reviving him and obtaining a pulse.

Fellow crew members then transported Luther to the nearest heli-spot just as the requested medevac helicopter arrived on scene. He was then transferred to the medical flight crew and taken to a cardiac care hospital in Denver,Colorado.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Recreation at Brainard Lake and West Magnolia To Be Delayed

It has been warmer recently along the Front Range, however, this late winter’s additional moisture increased snowpack in the high country and snow drifts are slow to melt. For visitors, this means favorite roads, trails, campgrounds, and recreation areas haven’t opened for the season due to snow, mud and downed trees.Here's an update from the Boulder Ranger District:

Brainard Lake Recreation Area:

* Crews are working hard to address hazard trees, repair damaged roads, and work around snow drifts that are still blocking vehicle access to the parking area. This work must be complete before the Brainard Lake Recreation Area gate can open. The gate will tentatively open between June 21 and June 30.

* Pawnee Campground contract work continues. The campground will open this summer, tentatively the first week in July. The renovated campground features two main loops with walk-in tent only campsites, regular tent campsites and RV sites (no hook ups). Pawnee Campground sites cannot be reserved this summer; they will be come, first served.

* There will be changes to the roads this season. The road around the sound end of the lake will be transformed to accommodate two-way traffic accessing Long and Mitchell Lake Trailheads. The road around the north end of the Brainard Lake will be foot traffic only.

* Lefthand Park Reservoir will become day use in late June, overnight camping and fires will no longer be allowed.

* Gates to Long Lake and Mitchell Lake Trailhead parking areas typically open in early July. Trail conditions will likely be snow packed and muddy through mid-July. Be prepared to walk through the mud and snow when venturing this high early in the season (skirting the path to avoid these wet areas widens and erodes the trail).

* Trails west of the Brainard Lake Recreation Area lead into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Special regulations apply including camping restrictions, group size limits and leash regulations. Please click here for more information.

West Magnolia:

* West Magnolia is now open to vehicle access. Forest Service Road 355D, a loop accessing four campsites, will be closed for repair. These campsites and the road remain closed for the season.

* The landscape looks very different since completion of fuels treatment, so be careful to stay on designated roads and trails to keep from compacting the newly disturbed soil. Designated U.S. Forest Service non-motorized trails remain in the same location and non-system trails (social trails) will not be rehabilitated.

* Rogue trail-building without U.S. Forest Service authorization is a federal offense. According to Federal Regulations (16 USC 551; 36 CFR 261.10a) constructing, placing, or maintaining any kind of road, trail, structure, fence, enclosure, communication equipment, or other improvement on National Forest system land or facilities without special use authorization, contract, or approved operating plan is an aggravated offense. Violations could result in a mandatory court appearance and a $300.00 fine.

* Boulder District Ranger is planning to initiate scoping for an Environmental Analysis on the Magnolia trails system following NEPA regulations, which will provide opportunities for visitors and locals to give input and feedback on proposed actions. STAY TUNED for when the scoping letter goes out!

For related project details please click here.

Other Popular Camping Destinations:

Camp Dick, Peaceful Valley, Kelly Dahl, Meeker Park, Rainbow Lakes and Olive Ridge campgrounds are open. Call the Boulder Ranger District Office for the latest updates (303-541-2500).

For more information on developed campgrounds click here.

Alternative Camping Areas:

Primitive camping is allowed outside of campgrounds on most NFS lands. Private property is interspersed with National Forest, so a good map is important. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is available here. For more information on dispersed camping, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, June 17, 2013

Big Meadows Fire is now 95% Contained

During the day, operations staff on the Big Meadows Fire provided support for initial attack response to a 1/10 acre fire on Keyser Ridge approximately 15 miles to the south/southwest of the incident helibase. The medium helicopter assigned to the Big Meadows Fire was used for initial attack response.

Operations for tomorrow will emphasize monitoring within the fire perimeter and back-hauling of equipment. Fire-fighting resources on the fire tomorrow, June 18th, will include two wildland fire modules of eight fire-fighters each and two fire engines. The incident will retain the use of one ‘air attack’ light plane, two light helicopters, and one medium helicopter.

The weather pattern for tomorrow, June 18th, will be similar to that experienced today. High temperatures will approach the lower 70s, relative humidity will be moderate, and winds will be generally 10-15 mph in the early morning, with gusts in the late afternoon that approach 30 mph. A chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon may bring erratic winds to the area with likely less moisture than those that have occurred in the last two days.

All backcountry overnight campsites will reopen in the Timber Creek drainage beginning tomorrow, June 18th. As usual, permits are required to camp in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail closures will continue in effect for the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, and the lower Tonahutu Trail. Trail closures do affect a section of the Continental Divide Trail that passes through the park. Visitors to the park should check the Rocky Mountain National Park website for the latest information regarding trail closures and alerts: www.nps.gov/romo.

All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are our neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park. Visitors are strongly cautioned to be aware of increased traffic and aircraft associated with the fire. Keep alert, don’t get hurt.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Climber Rescued Via Helicopter in Rocky Mountain National Park

On Friday afternoon a 36-year-old climber from Golden, Colorado, fell approximately 40 feet on Sundance Buttress, a popular climbing feature in the Lumpy Ridge area on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. At the time of the fall he was approximately 350 feet up the route. The climber suffered numerous injuries.

Park rangers were assisted in this rescue by an individual working as a guide for the Colorado Mountain School. The guide, who was with a separate party at the time, witnessed the fall. He came to the man's aid and was able to lower him to the base of the route. Park rangers utilized the Grand Canyon Helitak Crew from the Big Meadows Fire operation, to conduct a short-haul rescue of the man. A short-haul rescue is a specialized rescue technique in which a 150 foot rope is attached to the bottom of a helicopter. The end of the rope is attached to a rescuer. It allows rescuers to be inserted into difficult terrain quickly.

The patient was placed in a "Bauman Bag" with an attendant on the end of the rope. They were both flown to a nearby meadow. The man was then taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center.

Rocky Mountain National Park rangers expressed appreciation for the support from the Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team A in providing the helicopter and crew for this rescue operation, as well as the guide who lowered the man 350 feet, greatly assisting park rangers in this technical rescue.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Big Meadows Fire Update: Grows to 603 Acres, But is 60% Contained

Following Friday's burnout operation, and the reinforcement of containment lines by crews working the Big Meadows Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday afternoon, the fire is now considered to be 60% contained and encompasses 603 acres according to the latest Inciweb update this morning.

Operations for today will emphasize the continued reinforcement of containment lines and rehabilitation of areas where crews were required to fall trees. Crews have emphasized 'minimum impact suppression tactics' during their effort to suppress the fire and will continue to do so during rehabilitation. Throughout the incident, air operations has used best management practices to prevent the cross-contamination of watersheds related to water use on the fire.


Fire-fighting resources on the fire today, June 16, will include two wildland fire modules of eight fire-fighters each, four interagency 20-person Type I hotshot crews, and two fire engines. Available air resources include two 'air attack' small planes used for fire reconnaissance, two light helicopters, a medium helicopter, and one large heavy helicopter. A National Guard Blackhawk helicopter remains on standby to assist fire operations in the event of a medical emergency. As containment lines are strengthened and rehabilitation progresses, it is likely that resources will begin to be reassigned to other fires in the region.

Weather for today will be similar to that experienced yesterday; high temperatures will approach 70 degrees, relative humidity will be moderate, winds will be generally 8-10 mph with gusts in the afternoon that approaching 30 mph. This pattern will likely persist for the next three days. An approaching high pressure system arriving to the area Wednesday, however, may bring higher temperatures, lower humidity, and erratic winds that may increase fire danger. The growth potential of this fire remains extreme.

The Timber Lake Trail will be open for day use only. Closures will continue in effect for the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, and the lower Tonahutu Trail. Trail closures do affect a section of the Continental Divide Trail that passes through the park.

The Big Meadows fire continues to pose no imminent threat to any communities or structures; Rocky Mountain National Park remains open. All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are the neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Search for Missing Man in Mesa Verde Scaled Back

The search for Mitchell Stehling, which has been underway since last Sunday, has been scaled back due to lack of clues and new information. On Friday, the trail where Stehling was last seen and nearby canyons were again searched. Rangers used the park's helicopter to search the canyons and mesas of the park while ground-based teams thoroughly searched nearby canyons and trails. The saturation of this area by searchers, dog teams, a helicopter, and horse patrol provided a great deal of coverage, but resulted in no clues.

On Saturday search managers had planned to scale back to a continuous, but limited mode in which a small team of rangers will continue to focus their search in the areas where Mr. Stehling was last seen. Flyers with Mr. Stehling's picture and description remain posted throughout the park. Visitors who hiked the Petroglyph Trail on Sunday, June 9 and/or Monday, June 10 are asked to call Mesa Verde National Park law enforcement at 970-529-4422.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Defining Survival

Below is the first in a series of outdoor survival videos, produced by Colorado Parks & Wildlife, that I will be posting on this blog over the next several weeks. Each episode deals with a different aspect of survival in the outdoors. Although the videos are geared towards hunters and fishermen, the excellent advice and tips they provide are applicable to anyone who ventures into the wilderness, including hikers and backpackers. Preparation and knowledge are the keys to surviving any number of events that could happen while in the wilderness.




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lightning Starts Six Fires in Dinosaur National Monument

Lightning strikes from a Thursday storm started six fires within Dinosaur National Monument according to Joe Flores, Fire Management Officer. All five fires are located on the Colorado side of the Monument.

Aerial surveys were conducted of the two fires burning in the Wild Mountain area. According to Flores, the Wild fire is now estimated to be approximately 362 acres and the Hacking fire is approximately 10 acres in size. These numbers may change once firefighters have walked the fire's boundary.


A fire module and helicopter support is now on scene, and an additional module is en route. At this time, both fires are being managed for the benefits fire provides to the monument's natural resources. Located in a remote area, neither fire poses any threat to property outside the monument boundaries or any monument facilities. Firefighters are coordinating with private inholdings within that portion of the monument to protect private property.

Three other fires that resulted from the lightning strikes on Thursday, June 13 have been successfully controlled. The Echo Fire was located near the Echo Park Overlook on the Harpers Corner Road. The Pool Fire was between Pool Creek and Trail Draw and the Limestone Fire was near the Iron Springs Bench area.

A sixth fire has now been identified in the Limestone Ridge area, which is north of the Echo Park area and east of the Green River. This fire, which is not currently named, will be suppressed. More information will be released on this fire once it has been obtained.

Visitors are advised to avoid the Wild Mountain area of the monument both for their safety and to not interfere with fire operations. None of the fires are located near the Dinosaur Quarry and visitor services or facilities have not been affected by fire operations. For more information on Dinosaur National Monument, call us at (435) 781-7700.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Old Fall River Road Will Close For Major Work June 17 Through July 2

The Historic Old Fall River Road, the popular historic one-way dirt road from the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park to the Alpine Visitor Center, was damaged by avalanches during the spring of 2011. The project to repair this road will start on Monday, June 17th. Old Fall River Road will be closed completely to all uses, 24-hours/day, from June 17 through July 2. Closure signs will be placed at the Alpine Visitor Center and the gate at Endovalley. The project involves heavy equipment and moving large rocks to repair the retaining wall. Therefore, it is necessary to close the area to public use including hiking and cycling during this period.

For additional information on Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, June 14, 2013

Some Closures Lifted for Trails Impacted by Big Meadows Fire

The InciWeb page for the Big Meadows Fire is reporting tonight that closures will be lifted at 8:00 AM tomorrow, Saturday, June 15th, for five of the seven previously closed trailheads within the vicinity of the Big Meadows Fire. Trails that will open include: the two Tonahutu Spur Trails (one beginning at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, the other near the North Inlet trailhead), the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail, the Timber Lake Trail, and the trail which branches toward Mount Ida from Milner Pass.

The Timber Lake Trail will be open for day use only. Closures remain in effect for the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, and the lower Tonahutu Trail. Trail closures do affect a section of the Continental Divide Trail that passes through the park.

This afternoon, fire crews conducted a burnout operation to strengthen fire lines and reduce fuels along the southern flank of the fire in the Tonahutu Creek drainage. Smoke was visible in the communities of Estes Park, Grand Lake, and Granby. The objective of the firing operation was to prevent movement of the fire to the south, across the Tonahutu Creek. Acreage of the fire will likely expand following tonight's flight to map the fire using thermal imagery. Initial assessments indicate that the firing operation successfully strengthened the southern flank of the fire.

The fire remains at 353 acres in size, and is 30% contained.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Big Meadows Fire Update: Estimated at 353 acres

Following yesterday's assessment by fire staff, the Big Meadows Fire is estimated as 353 acres in size; the fire is considered to be 30% contained. Hand crews will continue to strengthen fire lines along the northwest flank of the fire. Crews will also continue to reinforce fire lines along Tonahutu Creek with the goal of completing hose lays, installing sprinklers, improving and mopping up existing burned areas along the southern flank of the fire.

For today, fire-fighting resources on the fire include an initial attack module of eight fire-fighters, two interagency 20-person Type I hotshot crews, two interagency 20-person Type II handcrews, and five fire engines. Three additional Type I hotshot crews have been ordered and should arrive on the fire today. Available air resources include two 'air attack' small planes used for fire reconnaissance, two light helicopters, a medium helicopter, and one large heavy helicopter. A National Guard Blackhawk helicopter remains on standby to assist fire operations in the event of a medical emergency.

Fire activity yesterday was largely limited to two areas: an area on the eastern flank of the fire on a south facing slope, and an area along the southern flank of the fire with a similar southern exposure. Little change in the weather is anticipated today. Firefighters will likely experience afternoon winds of 10-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph, shifting to the west in the early afternoon. A chance for afternoon thunderstorms will persist throughout the weekend but these storms may bring little moisture to the area.


There remains no imminent threat to any communities or structures; Rocky Mountain National Park remains open.

Currently seven trails are temporarily closed in the area – the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail, the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail, the Timber Lake Trail, and the trail which branches toward Mount Ida from Milner Pass. Trail closures do affect a section of the Continental Divide Trail that passes through the park.

All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are our neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park.

Visitors to the west side of the park are strongly cautioned to be aware of increased traffic and aircraft associated with the fire. "Keep alert, don't get hurt. "


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Big Meadows Fire Now 30% Contained

Following yesterday's assessment by fire staff, the Big Meadows Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park remains at an estimated 333 acres, and is now 30% contained. Hand crews constructed and strengthened fire lines along the northwest flank of the fire; crews working along Tonahutu Creek continued efforts to install hose lays to strengthen containment along the southern flank of the fire.

Fire-fighting resources on the fire today will include an initial attack module of seven fire-fighters, two interagency 20-person Type I hotshot crews, two interagency 20-person Type II handcrews, and five fire engines. Available air resources include two 'air attack' small planes used for fire reconnaissance, two light helicopters, a medium helicopter, and one large heavy helicopter. A National Guard Blackhawk helicopter remains on standby to assist fire operations in the event of a medical emergency. A total of 266 firefighting personnel are now on hand.


Fire activity today was largely limited to an area on the eastern flank of the fire on south facing slopes. Little change in the weather is anticipated over the next 2-3 days, firefighters will likely experience afternoon winds of 8-12 mph with gusts to 20 mph. A chance for afternoon thunderstorms will persist throughout the weekend but these storms may bring little moisture to the area.

There are still seven trails that have been temporarily closed in the area - the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail, the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail, the Timber Lake Trail and the trail which branches toward Mount Ida from Milner Pass.

All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open - as are the neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park.

The park has set up a recorded Fire Information Line at (970) 586-1381 which will be updated when new information on the Big Meadows Fire is available.

The weather forecast for today for the Grand Lake area calls for a mix of clouds and sun. A stray afternoon thunderstorm is possible. High 76F. West winds shifting to SE at 10 to 15 mph. The chance of rain is 20%.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Ranger-led Summer Schedule Published

The summer schedule of ranger-led programs in Rocky Mountain National Park was published to the park's website this week. The schedule, which runs from June 16th through August, includes many hikes, talks and outdoor activities for visitors of all ages.

Included are many opportunities to learn about wildlife, plants, photography, history, geology and lightning. There are also several opportunities to explore Rocky's night sky with a telescope.

To view the entire schedule, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Big Meadows Fire Update - Estimated Size Lowered to 333 Acres

At 6:00 AM this morning the Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team A , Shane Del Grosso Incident Commander, accepted management of the Big Meadows Fire. An Incident Command Post has been established at the Granby High School.

The Big Meadows Fire is located approximately five miles north of the community of Grand Lake, and three miles east of Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34). The fire was caused by lightning and is burning in mixed conifer forest types with a component of beetle-killed trees in lodgepole pine.

Based on a flight last night to map the perimeter of the fire using thermal imagery, the size of the fire has been more accurately estimated at 333 acres. Fire-fighting resources on the fire now include a National Park Service initial attack module of seven persons, two interagency 20-person hotshot crews, and ten fire engines. Available air resources include an 'air attack' small plane used for reconnaissance, three light helicopters, a medium helicopter, and one large heavy helicopter.

There has been little significant fire activity in the last 24 hours. Activity has been limited to hot-spots of downed fuels with isolated tree torching. Fire-fighters will concentrate efforts today within two divisions, one working primarily on the northwest flank of the fire and another working along the southern flank. Fire-fighters along the southern flank will be installing firehose lays to support efforts to strengthen containment along Tonahutu Creek. Afternoon winds are expected to be between 12-18 mph with gusts to 30 mph today with a chance of thunderstorms after 2:00 p.m. The management objective is to hold the fire east of Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34), west of the Continental Divide, and north of Tonahutu Creek.

There is no imminent threat to any communities or structures and Rocky Mountain National Park remains open. However, to ensure public and fire-fighter safety , there are currently seven trails that are temporarily closed in the area – the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail, the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail, the Timber Lake Trail and the trail which branches toward Mount Ida from Milner Pass. All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are our neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Fire Restrictions Begin for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests

Beginning immediately, Stage 1 fire restrictions are in place on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Pike and San Isabel National Forests located Chaffee, Clear Creek, Custer, Douglas, El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Jefferson, Lake, Las Animas, Park, Pueblo, Saguache, and Teller Counties, Colorado. Restrictions will remain in effect until they are rescinded.

Fire danger is very high and USFS fire managers anticipate a high potential for large fires.

FIRE RESTRICTIONS:

1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, barbecue, grill or stove fire. 36 CFR § 261.52(a).

EXCEPT: Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites and the use of portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, pressurized liquid fuel or a fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a ¼” spark arrester type screen is permitted.

2. Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. 36 CFR § 261.52(d).

3. Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A kept with the operator and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use. 36 CFR § 261.52(h).

4. Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of at least 2A. 36 CFR § 261.52(i).

5. Using an explosive. 36 CFR § 261.52 (b).

Even with the restrictions, visitors should be aware of weather conditions and be careful with the use of fire outdoors. Visitors should check with their local U.S. Forest Service office or go to the Web at Fire Information under "Related Links" to learn about specific restrictions.

Fire Safety Message:

* Make sure that you can have a campfire and obey all fire restrictions.

* Keep a bucket of water and a shovel near the campfire.

* When putting a campfire out, drown it with water, stir the fire with dirt and more water until all the fuel is cold to the touch. Never leave a fire until it is out cold.

* If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool. Remember, DO NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Big Meadows Fire Grows To 600 Acres

The Big Meadows Fire grew to an estimated 600 acres with no containment as of last night.  Winds were not as strong yesterday, which resulted in less fire activity and spread. Firefighters conducted numerous recon flights which will be crucial in planning efforts. The fire is burning in remote, steep, rugged terrain with extensive hazards and more than 80 percent beetle killed trees. The plan continues to be to hold the fire east of Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34), west of the Continental Divide, and north of Tonahutu Creek. There are no structures or communities at immediate risk.

A map published on InciWeb yesterday shows the fire is currently located just north of Granite Falls, and towards the east of Big Meadows, roughly 4.5 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead.


There are 107 firefighters currently on the Big Meadows Fire plus the Type II team who will be taking over command of the fire from the Boise Smokejumper Type III team this morning. Air resources include one Type I helicopter, one Type II helicopter and two Type III helicopters. Many firefighters planned to camp out near the fire last night in order to get an early morning start to continue with fire suppression tactics.

A challenge continues to be filling additional Type I crews. Due to other fires in Colorado, as well as in other states that are impacting communities and homes, resources are being spread across the nation.

There are now seven trails that have been temporarily closed in the area - the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail, the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail, the Timber Lake Trail and the trail which branches toward Mount Ida from Milner Pass.

All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are the neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park.

The park has set up a recorded Fire Information Line at (970) 586-1381 which will be updated when new information on the Big Meadows Fire is available.

The weather forecast for today for the Grand Lake area calls variable clouds with scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly during the afternoon hours. High 78F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph, and the chance of rain is 40%.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Volunteers Needed For Lower North Fork Trail Construction

Volunteers are needed for construction of the new Lower North Fork Trail in Reynolds Park near Conifer, Colorado later this month.

On Saturday, June 22nd, volunteers will help complete the new 10 mile trail system that will originate at the center of the park, and will terminate at the South Platte River, while providing visitors with access to the Colorado Trail. The multi-purpose trail, which will be open to both hikers and mountain bikers, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.

Reynolds Park was once a stop for pack trains traveling between Denver and Leadville. It also served as a dude ranch. Today Reynolds Park offers gentle meadows brimming with wildflowers, as well as panoramic views of Pikes Peak and the Continental Divide.

Volunteer work is scheduled for 8am to 4pm. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. For more information, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Forest Service mobilizes Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in Colorado

The U.S. Forest Service is mobilizing two Department of Defense C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems, known as MAFFS, to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in Colorado and elsewhere in the West as needed.

The systems will be provided by the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. They will be based in Colorado Springs, and will begin flying wildfire suppression missions as soon as safe and effective operations can be established.

“We are experiencing an uptick in wildfire activity and we are mobilizing MAFFS to ensure that we have adequate air tanker capability as we confront explosive wildfire conditions in Colorado, New Mexico, and elsewhere in the West,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Maintaining adequate aerial firefighting capability is critical to provide support to, and enhance the safety of, the firefighters on the ground who are working so hard to suppress wildfires that are threatening lives, homes, infrastructure, and valuable natural and cultural resources.”

Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems are portable fire retardant delivery systems that can be inserted into military C-130 aircraft to convert them into large airtankers when needed. Military C-130s equipped with the systems can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant on wildfires. They can discharge their entire load in under five seconds or make variable drops. The U.S. Forest Service has a total of eight Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems ready for operational use. Military installations in Wyoming, North Carolina, California, and Colorado provide C-130s to fly the missions.

Airtankers are used in wildfire suppression to deliver fire retardant to reduce the intensity and slow the growth of wildfires so that firefighters on the ground can construct containment lines safely, which is how wildfires are suppressed. Fire retardant is not typically used to suppress wildfires directly. Professional fire managers decide whether to use airtankers to deliver fire retardant, and where to use them, based on the objectives they have established to manage wildfires and the strategies they are using to achieve them. Airtankers are not requested for all wildfires.

In 2012, Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems delivered 2.4 million gallons of fire retardant while flying wildfire suppression missions in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, California, and Nevada. That was the second busiest year for the systems in at least the last 20 years. 1994 was the busiest year, when they delivered more than 5 million gallons of fire retardant while flying wildfire suppression missions.

Each year, an average of nearly 75,000 wildfires burn an average of more than 7 million acres of private, state, and federal land in the United States.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Update on Big Meadows Fire - 2 More Trails Closed

The Big Meadows Fire remained at 400 acres overnight. Firefighters are planning an indirect attack today due to the high number of beetle killed trees that make moving through the area very difficult and dangerous. The plan is to hold the fire east of Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34), west of the Continental Divide, and north of Tonahutu Creek. There are no structures or communities at risk.

A map published today on InciWeb shows the fire is currently located just north of Granite Falls, and towards the east of Big Meadows, roughly 4.5 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead.


There are now seven trails that have been temporarily closed in the area - the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail, the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail, the Timber Lake Trail and the trail which branches toward Mount Ida from Milner Pass.

All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are the neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park.

As of this morning there were 97 personnel fighting the fire. More resources are arriving and are anticipating around 130 personnel tonight.

In addition to trail closures, InciWeb is also reporting that campgrounds have been evacuated, and 2 hikers had to be removed via helicopter.

The park has set up a recorded Fire Information Line at (970) 586-1381 which will be updated when new information on the Big Meadows Fire is available.

The weather forecast for today for the Grand Lake area calls for more warm weather, with winds expected to be around 14 mph. There's a 30% chance for an afternoon thunderstorm after 2:00 p.m.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail

The Teton Crest Trail in the Grand Tetons is truly one of the epic hikes in America. In this video, backpacker Dan Mccoy did an excellent job of capturing the majestic beauty of the Grand Tetons during his four-day backpacking trip in 2011:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Big Meadows Fire Increases in Size to an Estimated 300 to 400 Acres

This afternoon, due to high winds, low humidity and a large amount of beetle killed trees, the Big Meadows Fire grew from 2 to 3 acres this morning, to an estimated 300 to 400 acres throughout the day. A recon flight this afternoon showed the fire moving to the northeast towards Nakai Peak.

This morning an interagency crew consisting of Rocky Mountain National Park and US Forest Service firefighters were flown to the Big Meadows Fire located on the north end of Big Meadows on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The location is roughly 4.5 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead in a relatively remote section of Rocky Mountain National Park west of the Continental Divide. Around 1:00 p.m. firefighters experienced extremely gusty winds that both deterred deploying smokejumpers, and increased the fire's growth. No structures or communities are threatened.

A Boise Smokejumper Type III Team has taken over management of the fire. A Type II team is on order and is expected to transition Thursday morning. Fire managers have ordered additional air and ground resources including three additional helicopters and five additional Type I crews. The Craig Hotshot Type I crew arrived this afternoon. With unfavorable weather conditions forecasted for tomorrow, the fire is expected to be active again. Additionally, due to the large amount of beetle killed trees, firefighter and visitor safety will continue to be paramount.

I hiked to Big Meadows last fall and was shocked by the amount of dead trees as a result of the mountain pine beetle infestation. At the time I estimated that at least 80% of the trees visible from the meadow were already dead:


This photo was taken from the Gore Range Overlook on Trail Ridge Road this afternoon:


Currently there are five trails temporarily closed in the area - the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail and the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail.

The park has set up a recorded Fire Information Line at (970) 586-1381 which will be updated when new information on the Big Meadows Fire is available.

The weather forecast for tomorrow for the Grand Lake area calls for more warm, dry and windy conditions (10 to 15 MPH). A stray afternoon thunderstorm is possible.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Search for Missing Hiker in Mesa Verde National Park

Rangers and other emergency services personnel are conducting a search and rescue operation for a 52-year old Texas man that was reported missing Sunday, June 9. Mitchell Stehling told his wife and parents he was going to visit Spruce Tree House. When he did not return, they notified Park Dispatch. A hasty search of Spruce Canyon, Spruce Tree House, Petroglyph Trail and other trails on Chapin Mesa was initiated following the report. Crews were out early Monday morning expanding the search area on foot, by horseback and by helicopter. Two dog teams from Dolores Canine Search and Rescue are also assisting in the search. Approximately 30 people searched multiple trails and canyons until late evening.

Crews resumed their search this morning. They were being joined by 20 members of the San Juan National Forest Hot Shots bringing the total number of personnel involved to 50.

Temperatures in the park are in the 90s. The terrain consists of steep canyons and mesa tops at an elevation between 6,500 and 8,000 feet. Mr. Stehling was last seen wearing a brown shirt and hat, khaki shorts and hiking boots. He was not carrying any water or other gear. If you've seen this man, please call park dispatch at 970-529-4622.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Lightning Caused Big Meadows Fire Remains Small

Today, Tuesday, June 11, an interagency crew consisting of Rocky Mountain National Park and US Forest Service firefighters were flown to the Big Meadows Fire located on the north end of Big Meadows on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The location is roughly 4.5 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The preliminary report is the fire did not grow much last night and remains at approximately 2 to 3 acres, mainly burning in grass. The fire was caused by lightning.

Although it is preferred to allow naturally occurring fires to burn for the benefit of the resource and future fire breaks, park managers have decided to suppress the fire when safe to do so. Extended drought conditions and reduced interagency resources weighed in to this decision. The capacity to manage what would likely be a long duration fire is significantly limited. As you can see in the NPS photo below, many of the trees in this area are dead as a result of the mountain pine beetle infestation:


This decision did not come easily; each fire's risk is managed individually. Park managers look at each naturally occurring fire on a case by case basis when determining how best to manage a fire.

High winds today are impacting firefighting operations but have not increased the footprint of the fire significantly. Firefighters have not seen any open flames today and the fuel moisture is relatively high. Smokejumpers are staged nearby if needed. Firefighters will be using minimum impact tools to suppress smoldering grass and other dead and down material. The area does contain beetle killed trees; snags are being removed for firefighter safety.

Currently there are five trails temporarily closed in the area - the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail and the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail.

Today's forecast for the Grand Lake area calls for sunny weather and winds gusting from 20 to 30 MPH.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Big Meadows Fire on West Side of Rocky Mountain National Park Closes 5 Trails

A small wildfire, named the Big Meadows Fire, was burning mostly in grass on the north end of Big Meadows on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) yesterday afternoon. A few trees have also burned. The fire, caused by lightning, was estimated to be around 2 acres in size.


An interagency crew consisting of RMNP staff and US Forest Service staff hiked to the area roughly 4.5 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead to assess the fire. They hiked back out last night. An interagency helicopter assessed the fire as well.

Fire managers were to develop plans for containment and implement a minimum impact suppression strategy for this morning. Currently there are five trails temporarily closed in the area - the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail and the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail.

Today's forecast for the Grand Lake area calls for sunny weather and winds gusting 15 to 25 MPH.

No further information is available at this time. Park officials stated they would provide an update by noon today.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Local Executive Committee to Develop Legislation to Redesignate Colorado National Monument as a National Park

Following years of public input and meetings, Senator Mark Udall, chairman of the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, and Congressman Scott Tipton, who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, have announced the formation of a local executive committee to help them craft discussion-draft legislation to re-designate the Colorado National Monument as a national park. The five-member executive committee will work with Udall and Tipton to produce discussion-draft legislation that addresses local residents' concerns and find a way to move forward on the park's plan. Following completion of the executive committee’s work, Udall and Tipton will hold a public comment period for the community to provide feedback on the discussion draft.

"The Colorado National Monument is one of our state's most recognizable and stunning public lands. I am proud that Congressman Tipton and I have joined together to form this local executive committee to keep the conversation going on the Colorado National Monument's future," Udall said. "I look forward to working with these community leaders to draft legislation that addresses local concerns while also finding a bipartisan, common-sense way forward to honor John Otto's original vision for the Colorado National Monument."

One of the chief concerns among locals is the ability to run a stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge through the national monument along Rim Rock Drive. However, National Park Service officials have refused that permit on grounds that the event conflicts with federal regulations and agency management policies.

The executive committee, which will meet periodically over the next several months to help draft legislation, is made up of:

◾Kristi Pollard, former director of development at Colorado Mesa University
◾Warren Gore, a Glade Park rancher and chairman of Udall and Tipton's recent Colorado National Monument working group
◾Ginny McBride, chairwoman of the Colorado National Monument Association Board of Directors; ◾Michael Burke, chairman of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce
◾Jamie Lummis, a member of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge organizing committee.

The formation of the executive committee follows more than a year's worth of work by the Colorado National Monument working group, which explored the implications, benefits and possible issues of redesignating the monument as a park.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, June 10, 2013

Florissant Fossil Beds Visitor Center Grand Opening

Shortly after Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was established 44 years ago, plans were made to build a visitor center. Four decades later, those plans finally have been fulfilled with the recent completion of a new visitor center and research facility complete with new, interactive exhibits and an updated theater. The park plans to celebrate with a fee free, grand opening weekend Saturday, June 15 and Sunday June 16.

On Saturday, June 15th, activities will take place between 10:00-3:00 and all begin at the visitor center. Visitors will have an opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at the paleontology lab and collections area. Tours of the building’s sustainable energy technology will be offered. There will be an opportunity to meet many of the scientists who have studied Florissant’s fossils. Dr. Estella Leopold, one of the scientists and recent winner of the Paleontological Society Medal, will be available to sign the recent book which she co-authored, “Saved In Time: The Fight to Establish Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado.” The Friends of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument will be providing light refreshments. Park Rangers will be leading walking tours, science demonstrations, and ranger talks throughout the day. Award-winning musician and Park Ranger Jeff Wolin will be performing a children’s concert at 12 noon.

Sunday, June 16th, the celebration will continue with light refreshments being served from 10–3, tours of the paleontology lab and collections area from 11–1, building technology tours from 10–2, and a full day of ranger guided walks, talks, and demonstrations.

For those interested, a small ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on Friday morning at 10:00.

For more information please contact the park at (719) 748-3253.

The Monument is now open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily through Labor Day.

To learn more about the new visitor center, and a complete schedule of the opening visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument’s website. More details also are available from the monument at (719) 748-3253.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Participation in Outdoor Recreation Activities Reaches Highest Level in Six Years

Participation in outdoor recreation reached a six-year high in 2012 with nearly 50% of Americans ages six and older taking part in at least one of the 43 outdoor activities included in the latest Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. This percentage equates to 141.9 million American outdoor participants, reflecting an increase of nearly a million people compared to 2011. In addition, outdoor participants were more active in 2012 than in past years, taking an average of 87.4 outdoor outings per participant for a total 12.4 billion outings. Overall, more Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2012 than in any year since The Outdoor Foundation began measuring participation six years ago, perhaps signaling a move toward healthier, more active lifestyles.

These findings are part of The Outdoor Foundation's 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report, the leading report tracking American participation trends in outdoor recreation with a focus on youth, young adults, diversity and the future of the outdoors.

Participation rates by age remained consistent in most categories from 2011 to 2012 — a testament to the resilience of outdoor participation in uncertain economic times. Participation rates among younger generations remained steady yet are still significantly lower than they were in 2006. Young participants are also less diverse than the nation’s population as a whole. In 2012, 71 percent of youth and young adult participants were non-Hispanic Caucasian – which is not reflective of the nations increasingly diverse population.

When averaging the year-to-year changes in participation for specific outdoor activities over the past three years, multisport activities, such as triathlons and adventure racing, have experienced the largest average annual increases in participation. Activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, camping, RV camping, and rafting have all experienced the largest average annual decreases.

Here are a few stats of interest:

* After showing a sharp decline in 2011 versus the prior year, backpacking made a strong return in 2012. The report shows a 23.6% increase in the number of people participating in the outdoor pursuit. The 2012 numbers were also the highest level of participation in the 7-year history of the study.

* Interestingly, however, camping (within a 1/4 mile of a vehicle or home) declined 9% when compared to 2011.

* Participation in hiking remained relatively flat for 2012. However, the latest figures don't reflect the strong growth in the outdoor pursuit in recent years. Compared to 2006 (the first year of the study), hiking is up 15.7%. Compared to 2010, participation in hiking has increased by 6.3%.

In 2012, the top 5 most popular outdoor activities for adults (ages 25+), based on participation rates were:

1. Fishing - 15.7% of adults
2. Running, Jogging and Trail Running - 14.9% of adults
3. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) - 12.0% of adults
4. Hiking - 11.7% of adults
5. Camping (Car, Backyard and RV) - 11.5% of adults

The top 5 favorite outdoor activities for adults (ages 25+), based on frequency of activity were:

1. Running, Jogging and Trail Running - 87.2 average outings per runner
2. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) - 58.4 average outings per cyclist
3. Birdwatching - 40.7 average outings per birdwatcher
4. Backpacking - 33.4 average outings per backpacker
5. Wildlife Viewing - 29.9 average outings per viewer

The report is based on an online survey of more than 42,000 Americans ages six and older and covers over 40 different activities, making it the largest survey of its kind. To download a complete copy of the 2013 Outdoor Recreation Topline Participation Report, visit The Outdoor Foundation website.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Living With Mountain Lions

People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America over the past 100 years. Most of the attacks were by young mountain lions, perhaps forced out to hunt on their own and not yet living in established areas. Young mountain lions may key in on easy prey, like pets and small children.

No studies have been done to determine what to do if you meet a mountain lion, but based on observations by people who have come upon lions, some patterns of behavior and response are beginning to emerge.

In this short video, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers several tips and information on living and recreating in mountain lions country:


Mountain Lion Safety from Colorado Parks & Wildlife on Vimeo.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, June 7, 2013

Artists Selected for 2013 Program at Rocky Mountain National Park

Six artists have been selected for the summer 2013 Artist-in-Residence Program at Rocky Mountain National Park. Artists will be provided with a creative, contemplative environment in which to generate artistic works and share their works with the public. Artistic diversity, new ideas and creative uses of media were encouraged in the application process.

The artists selected along with their art medium are: Andy Nelson, Photographer from Manhattan, Kansas; Joy Keown, Water Media Artist from Laramie, Wyoming; Rob Wilson, Writer and Photographer from Novi, Michigan; Stan Honda, Photographer from New York City, New York; Bill McCormick, Musician and Composer from Carrboro, North Carolina; David Boye, Musician and Composer from Lincoln, Nebraska.

Artists are given two-week residencies at the William Allen White cabin from June through September. During their stay at the park, artists share their vision in two public presentations. These presentations are held on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center auditorium through September 4. For a specific schedule and to learn more about these artists, click here.

Artists have had a long-standing impact on the formation, expansion and direction of our country's national parks. Musicians, composers, painters, writers, sculptors and other performing artists also draw upon the multifaceted quality of parks for inspiration. All of these artists translate the national park's purpose, as a place of pleasure and preservation, into images which bring others enjoyment and a deeper understanding of the parks some may never visit. Rocky Mountain National Park's Artist-In-Residence program provides artists the opportunity to become a part of a long established tradition of artists in our national parks.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Moose Injures Woman Near Grand Lake

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding the public about the dangers of approaching moose after recent activity in Grand Lake that has heightened concerns with moose/human conflicts.

Tuesday afternoon, a cow moose injured a 60 year-old woman as she walked her dog in a neighborhood southwest of Grand Lake, along County Road 4721.

"It's an unfortunate situation for the victim in this case, and we hope she has a quick recovery," said Area Wildlife Manager Lyle Sidener of Hot Sulphur Springs. "This is a reminder that approaching these large animals can in certain situations be dangerous."

According to a witness, the woman and her dog reportedly came as close as 10 feet to the cow and its calf before the moose charged her and knocked her down. The injured woman was taken to Granby Medical Center, then later transported to St. Anthony's Hospital in Lakewood.

Due to an abundance of caution for human health and safety, wildlife officials euthanized the cow and calf.

"People should remember that approaching wildlife often puts the animal at risk as well," added Sidener.

Moose do not differentiate dogs from wolves - their natural predator - and will instinctually attempt to stomp them in self-defense. If the dog runs back to its owner for safety, it can bring an angry, thousand pound moose with it, putting people at risk as well.

Late spring is calving season and cow moose will aggressively protect their young. Wildlife officials advise that people watch all wildlife from a distance with binoculars or a scope. In addition, people should keep their dogs on leashes at all times, especially in areas where moose are common.

Grand Lake made headlines recently after several national news organizations reported on a local bull moose's seemingly amorous attention to a large statue of a bull moose located within city limits.

Wildlife officials say the cow moose attack is not related to the bull moose's unusual behavior, but remind onlookers to keep their distance from the bull, and all other moose they may encounter.

"We have heard reports of people coming as close as 20 feet to take a picture of this bull," said Sidener. "Many people see it as a curiosity, however we caution the public to give it plenty of space or it may feel threatened and could react."

For more information about living with wildlife, click here. For more information about how to safely enjoy moose, click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day this Saturday at Rocky Mountain National Park

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) on Saturday, June 8 with two great events. In the morning, you'll have the opportunity to take a bird walk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Join park rangers to learn more about migratory birds while exploring the park with experienced bird watchers. The event will be at 8:00 a.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. After a short introduction, visitors and bird walk leaders will caravan into the park to view birds in a variety of habitats. The activity is free of charge, but park entrance fees will apply. This guided walk will have naturalists and expert birders help beginners identify birds; all ages and abilities are welcomed. Bring warm clothes, water, good walking shoes, binoculars and a snack. The event will end at noon, but visitors are encouraged to continue their birding adventures throughout the day.

Park staff will finish off the day at 7:00 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center with the free premiere of "Birds Without Borders," the new documentary produced by Nick Mollé and the park's Chief of Resource Stewardship Ben Bobowski. Over 150 species of birds share the ecosystems of Rocky Mountain National Park and Costa Rica. Fifty are known to nest in Rocky and migrate to Costa Rica. "Birds Without Borders" focuses on four of these species. Filmed on location in both countries, the story follows the research team as they attempt to locate and film each of the four birds in sometimes difficult situations. The movie is one hour long and has been produced for distribution on PBS.

International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated each spring across the United States and Canada. This special event recognizes the movement of nearly 350 species of birds from their wintering grounds in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean to nesting habitats in North America. This year marks the 21st anniversary of IMDB with the theme of "Life Cycles of Migratory Birds." This theme details all aspects of a migratory birds' life, from nesting and migration to breeding and raising young. Most importantly, it addresses the need for conservation throughout the life cycle.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Arkansas Headwaters' summer programs and guided hikes

Summer is here and it’s time for everyone to get out to the Arkansas River and have some fun! This year the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) will be offering hikes and programs for all ages and abilities, which cover a spectrum of outdoor activities and attractions.

This summer volunteer Naturalist Bob Hickey and Naturalist Melissa Arentsen will lead hikes along the river, forests and mountains within the upper Arkansas River valley. Here's a sampling of some of the upcoming programs at the AHRA:

June 22, 9 a.m.: Cottonwood Pass NE side Easy, short day hike with lots of wildflowers and magnificent views.

June 13 to 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.: AHRA will be hosting an information booth at FIBArk. Come join the festivities at Colorado’s oldest and boldest whitewater festival. Don’t miss the AHRA float in the FIBArk parade on Saturday!

June 29, 8:30 a.m.: Water Dogs Lake: Short day hike up Monarch Pass area through forests and meadows to a pristine high mountain lake.

July 5, 6:30 p.m.: Campground Program at Railroad Bridge: Bob Hickey will talk about the geologic forces that formed the mountains, valleys and the Arkansas River north of Buena Vista.

August 17, 9 a.m.: Lost Lake on Cottonwood Pass – Bob Hickey will lead a short day hike just below and west of the summit of Cottonwood Pass to a lake that is rarely found.

August 31, 6 p.m.: Labor Day Campground Program/Hike at Hecla Junction: Learn fascinating facts about "Metamorphism" and how the weird and wonderful rock formations were created.

For more information call AHRA at 719-539-7289, or visit their website.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, June 3, 2013

Climbing Mt Elbert: The highest mountain in Colorado

Mt. Elbert - the highest point in Colorado. At 14,440-feet, the mountain is also the highest point between Mt. Whitney in California, Fairweather Mountain in Canada, La Malinche Mountain in Mexico, and Mont Blanc in France.

My wife and I have hiked it twice. The first time we literally spent less than 5 minutes at the summit. Rolling thunder and ominus looking clouds forced us to leave as soon as we reached the top. Feeling like we were ripped-off, we returned the following year, and enjoyed more than an hour at the summit under glorious Colorado skies.

Below is a video by a fellow hiker by the name of Kara Murphy. Along with video of some outstanding scenery, Kara does an excellent job of providing some key tips for climbing the mountain. In it, she also mentions 14,421-foot Mt. Massive, Elbert's neighbor to the north. There's a very interesting story associated with the two mountains.

In the 1970s there was a movement among some people that felt that Mt. Massive was more deserving of being Colorado's highest mountain. The group apparently embarked on a campaign to stack rocks at the summit in order to raise the height of the mountain. Those who wanted to keep the status quo would periodically visit Mt. Massive and dismantle the over-sized cairn. Fortunately, at some point, the pro-Massive group realized their quest was becoming Quixotic, and eventually gave up.

If interested in hiking the mountain someday, please visit the Mt. Elbert page on our website for more details and photos of the trail.





Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com