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All Naches Ranger District trails CLOSED

Discussion in 'Pacific Region' started by TrcksR4ME, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. TrcksR4ME

    TrcksR4ME 1/2 ton status

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    /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

    Just read on the SNORT4x4 board that all the trails are closed in the Naches Ranger District including Little Naches area-Funny Rocks/Moon Rocks /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

    [ QUOTE ]
    Fire Fears Close Large Recreation Area in Cascades
    By SCOTT SANDSBERRY
    YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC


    With moisture levels in the forested foothills of the eastern Cascades at unprecedented lows, the Naches Ranger District is taking an unprecedented response: a precautionary closure of a popular recreation area.

    In a few hours starting at midnight tonight, all of the roads and trails of the South Fork of the Tieton River drainage, a primary route to Conrad Meadows and Surprise Lake and one way into the Goat Rocks Wilderness, will be closed.

    At the same time, all motorized travel — ATVs, quads, Jeeps, motorcycles — will be prohibited on all trails within the Naches Ranger District. And only street-legal vehicles are allowed on the remaining forest-, county- or state-system roads or highways. Without the motorized trail ban, officials say, if a fire were to break out it would be all but impossible to reach far-ranging off-road vehicle drivers and steer them out of harm's way.

    Even Tuesday night's thundershowers were not enough to ease the danger for more than a day, U.S. Forest Service fire officials say.

    "Even the live trees and plants are readily available as fuel for a fire," said Naches District Ranger Randy Shepard. "The upshot is, any fire that gets any kind of a foothold is going to spread rapidly and is going to be a dangerous fire. In some past years, we might have had time to evacuate people. With the way things are now, that may not happen ... and we can't afford to take that risk."

    The figures that forest officials use as a fire danger index are the ERC (energy release component), a calculation of temperatures and fuel moisture measured periodically at various locations. The average ERC figure for Swauk (Blewett Pass on the Cle Elum side) for this time of year is about 62, and the highest previous record was 72; this week it's at 83. At Grayback (on the Yakama Reservation), the average is 55 and the previous record 66; now it's at 72.

    "We've never seen these indexes as high as they are," said Richy Harrod, fire ecologist for the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest. "Yes, the word unprecedented is definitely applicable here."

    Gary Jennings, the Naches District's fire management officer, put it succinctly.

    "Tell your readers," he said, "that the paper they're reading has more moisture in it than the fuel on the ground."

    Those conditions have led to the South Fork Tieton situation, believed by forest officials to be the first such precautionary closure of a river drainage in the Wenatchee National Forest since a similar closure in 1979 in Chelan County's Entiat Valley.

    Exacerbating the dryness of the South Fork Tieton is extensive devastation from the Western spruce budworm, which can seriously defoliate even mature stands of fir trees and create more highly flammable dead fuel.

    But the real problem is the South Fork Tieton's layout — one way in, one way out. Most of the recreation use is at its upper reaches. Were a wildfire to ignite lower in the drainage, said Naches District assistant fire manager Jim Bailey, "The best-case scenario is that there are people who can't get out. The worst-case scenario is that they're trapped in the fire."

    For weeks, district staffers have been instructing callers to the station to have a personal response plan ready in the event that a fire breaks out while they're camping, picnicking or hiking in the National Forest.

    "We have a lot of areas where they're basically one way in and one way out," said Doug Jenkins, fire information officer. "Say you drive up 410 and hang a left up the Bumping ... next thing you know, you start seeing smoke and activity and find out that somebody started a fire up at Soda Springs.

    "Do you have an escape route mapped out? Do you know where you're going to go, what you're going to do?"

    [/ QUOTE ]
     
  2. white-rhyno

    white-rhyno 1/2 ton status

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    Bummer.... I wonder if they closed off the manastash side. Thats where i go in /forums/images/graemlins/thinking.gif. Dont think its worth it anyway.
     
  3. leadfoot067

    leadfoot067 1/2 ton status

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    hopefully they will re-open for labor day /forums/images/graemlins/eek.gif
     
  4. TrcksR4ME

    TrcksR4ME 1/2 ton status

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    apparently someone was told on the SNORT board that it could be as late as October if things keep on this way...might need to come up with an alternative for Labor Day /forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif
     

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