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Firefighters Battle Fern Lake Fire in Snow/Cold

December 11, 2012 by · Comments Off on Firefighters Battle Fern Lake Fire in Snow/Cold 

Fighting a forest fire in the snow may seem odd to outsiders unfamiliar with the challenges that face today’s firefighters but that’s what’s unfolding in northern Colorado.

Snow, cold temperatures and plenty of hard work by fire crews have nearly knocked down the Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, oldwestnewwest.com, Cheyenne, Wyo., reported.

As of Monday (Dec. 10) with the fire roughly 88% contained, officials opened the park on a limited basis. Visitors may enter the park through Highway 34, the Fall River Entrance, and Highway 36, the Beaver Meadows Entrance.

The road is open to Many Parks Curve, the normal winter closure point on Trail Ridge Road. Bear Lake Road will remain closed until further notice because of fire operations.

Upper Beaver Meadows, Hidden Valley, and trails leading into the area around the Fern Lake Fire remain closed. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fall River Visitor Center is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All pre-evacuation and evacuation orders have been lifted and all residents have been allowed to return to their homes. The town of Estes Park and all its businesses are open for visitors and holiday shopping.

By Monday evening, snow accumulations were 4 to 6 inches in the fire area. The snow cover will prevent further spread, although the fire will continue to smolder in heavy fuels, officials said.

Cold temperatures, with heavy snow, forced firefighters from the fireline because of safety concerns.

Crews removed debris created by fire line construction along the northeast perimeter, and removed fire hose laid out to protect structures in, and in the vicinity of, the YMCA. Crews and equipment continue to be demobilized, as fire suppression objectives are met. Adequate firefighting resources are being retained to continue suppression efforts, if fire behavior increases.

The fire started on Oct. 9, but because of its location in dense forest and away from property, the fire was fought with firefighter safety in mind.

Full containment of the fire should be by Dec. 31, officials estimated. As of Monday morning, the size of the fire was 3,498 acres. One structure was lost, and no injuries have been reported. The cost of the fire to date, according to National Park Service officials, is $6 million. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs

December 10, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs 

WEST VIRGINIA

From the Register-Herald, Beckley:

A new campground is under construction in Summers County’s corridor of the New River Gorge’s National River.

Robin Snyder, chief interpreter for the National Park Service, said the National River received federal project funding to create a campsite 1.5 miles past the Sandstone Visitors center in Meadow Creek.

“This is going to be a lovely campground right on the New River featuring a boat launch. We expect to attract local and distant visitors,” she said.

The Meadow Creek Campground will be the first in the New River Gorge to offer electric and water. The park is looking at the feasibility of providing sewer as well, she said.

In all, the campground will have more than 20 camping sites with at least 5 R.V. sites.

The rest of the sites will be “pull in” and visitors can camp in their vehicles or pitch a tent.

A comfort station with bathrooms and a dumping station is also under construction at Meadow Creek.

Construction on this campground began in October and is expected to be finished by the end of September 2013.

Snyder said the park service is studying the possibility of having a fee for the campground, which would be used to maintain the site.

COLORADO

From the Estes Park Trail-Gazette:

Rocky Mountain National Park officials have opened the park on a limited basis after brief closure due to the Fern Lake Fire. Visitors may enter the park through Highway 34, the Fall River Entrance, and Highway 36, the Beaver Meadows Entrance.

Weather permitting, the road will be open to Many Parks Curve, the normal winter closure point on Trail Ridge Road. Bear Lake Road will remain closed until further notice because of fire operations. Upper Beaver Meadows, Hidden Valley, and trails leading into the area around the Fern Lake Fire remain closed. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fall River Visitor Center is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information click here to read the latest account in the National Parks Traveler.

ILLINOIS

From The Associated Press:

Illinois vehicle owners will pay $2 more for license plates next year after Gov. Pat Quinn approved a surcharge to help repair and maintain state parks.

The Democrat signed a law Friday (Dec. 7) increasing registration fees Jan 1.

The money will go to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The agency says the fee could raise as much as $20 million annually toward a $750 million repair backlog. That account could grow to $35 million annually with other new recreational and fishing fees

Basic license-plate renewals will be $101 with the surcharge. A spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White — who opposed the increase — says the fee will apply to until renewals due in March at the earliest.

 

 

Colorado’s Fern Lake Fire Fight Cost Tops $3M

December 5, 2012 by · Comments Off on Colorado’s Fern Lake Fire Fight Cost Tops $3M 

The Fern Lake Fire, which has gone through varying stages of smoldering and flaring up since it was first spotted back in October, has cost the National Park Service more than $3 million to combat and the bill continues to rise, National Parks Traveler reported.

The fire, which has destroyed one cabin inside the park and led to the evacuation of hundreds living in outlying areas of Estes Park, Colorado, is roughly 3,500 acres (latest revision) in size, with 40 percent of the fire contained.

Click here to read the entire story.

 

Colo. Firefighters Get a Break in Fern Lake Fire

December 4, 2012 by · Comments Off on Colo. Firefighters Get a Break in Fern Lake Fire 

Weather, which has hampered firefighters battling a wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park, seemed to turn into an ally Monday (Dec. 3) as cooler temperatures and lighter winds settled over the fire, National Parks Traveler reported.

While a private cabin in Moraine Park within the park boundaries was lost to the Fern Lake Fire, officials said high winds Sunday and into Monday did not push the fire any closer to the park’s eastern gateway town of Estes Park, Colo.

Roughly 150 firefighters and 18 engines stayed on the fire through the night, and as dawn arrived the total was expected to grow by 100 personnel with more resources en route to the park.

Click here to read the entire story.

 

 

Colo. Campground Evacuated as Fire Spreads

December 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on Colo. Campground Evacuated as Fire Spreads 

Shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday (Dec. 1), authorities evacuated the Moraine Park Campground inside Ricky Mountain National Park, as the Fern Lake Fire was pushed by winds into Moraine Park, the Estes Park Trails Gazette reported.

More resources are being deployed to the Fern Lake Fire into the park as firefighters cope with additional strong winds.

Another Red Flag Warning was issued around noon Sunday and carried over into the night and on into today as winds gusted as high as 23 mph Sunday afternoon and 55 mph overnight with sustained winds speeds of 28 to 38 mph.

There is little relief expected today as gusts could reach the upper 30 mph range. Dire spokesman Traci Weaver said the conditions possible Sunday night were similar to those Friday night that saw the fire grow by over 2,000 acres.

At around 1:30 a.m. Friday, the winds caused the fire to move three miles in 35 minutes. Firefighters are still holding the Fern Lake Fire within Rocky Mountain National Park boundaries and the Type I Incident Management Team has arrived to transition in to manage the fire operations.

 

Forest Fire Continues in Colorado Mountains

November 29, 2012 by · Comments Off on Forest Fire Continues in Colorado Mountains 

More firefighters continue arriving at a wildfire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park as it approaches 1,500 acres, The Coloradoan reported.

The Fern Lake Fire that started Oct. 9 has persisted with dry, windy weather and little snow. Wednesday’s (Nov. 28) weather brought winds strong enough that a helitanker battling the blaze had to cease operations after dropping several loads of water on active fire in the Spruce Creek drainage, according to a news release from the National Parks Service.

The fire has grown to an estimated 1,488 acres about 9 miles west of Estes Park.

Fire crews Wednesday worked on a quarter-acre spotfire about a quarter mile west of one they suppressed Tuesday. An additional nine firefighters hiked in Wednesday to support them, and another 30 are expected to be assigned to the fire by this afternoon, according to the news release.

A fire and smoking ban is in effect until further notice in the backcountry of the park, east of the Continental Divide. Moraine Park Campground remains open, and campfires in grates are allowed. Trails in the immediate area of western Moraine Park and the fire are closed to hikers.

 

 

Fern Lake Fire Threatens Colo. Campgrounds

November 28, 2012 by · Comments Off on Fern Lake Fire Threatens Colo. Campgrounds 

The Fern Lake Fire in Estes Park, Colo., has crossed to the southern side of Spruce Creek, spurred on by red flag conditions, Rocky Mountain National Park officials reported Tuesday (Nov. 27).

The fire, west of Moraine Park, was mapped Saturday at about 1,370 acres. Strong winds and low humidity have increased the fire activity. Ground attack has been difficult for firefighters because much of the blaze — fed in part by beetle-killed trees — is in steep, rugged terrain. Use of a helitanker was limited Tuesday due to the wind, the Longmont Times-Call reported.

Smoke from the fire was visible in several places along the Front Range. A fire and smoking ban is in effect in the park’s backcountry until further notice. Moraine Park Campground is still open and campfires in grates are allowed there.

Trails in the immediate area of western Moraine Park are closed to hikers, including: Fern Lake Road beyond the winter parking lot, Fern Lake Trail all the way to Lake Helene, the Cub Lake Trail from the trailhead to The Pook, and the Mill Creek Trail from the Mill Creek Basin campsites to the Cub Lake Trail. Hikers on closed trails will be ticketed.

Information about the fire is available at inciweb.org/incident/3294 and at the parks’s website,www.nps.gov/romo. A recorded fire information number can be called at 970-586-1381.

 

The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs

October 22, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs 

MICHIGAN

From the Associated Press:

A panel appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder is recommending ways to improve Michigan’s state park system.

The 16-member group sent its findings to the governor Oct. 19. The report calls for finding new funding sources for parks, including seeking bonding authority to reduce a backlog of maintenance needs.

It also proposes re-establishing the State Parks Foundation to accept private donations.

It recommends developing more regionally connected trail networks, establishing four or five “signature parks” to help revitalize core urban areas and stepping up marketing efforts.

The panel’s membership included representatives of nature conservancies, trail groups, environmental advocates and recreation specialists.

Snyder said he appointed the panel to seek ways to help the park system adapt for growth and investment.

COLORADO

From a National Park Service news release:

Moraine Park Campground near Estes Park has reopened. The Fern Lake Fire forced an evacuation of the area on Oct. 9. Park managers put a temporary closure in place to protect the safety of all park visitors. A reduced area closure is still in effect. This closure will be in effect for the duration of the Fern Lake Fire.

The Fern Lake Fire is 630 acres and 30% contained. The fire continues to be managed with a full suppression strategy. Firefighters are monitoring and patrolling the fire. Contingency fire lines are in place. The fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain with beetle killed trees. It is too dangerous for firefighters to conduct a direct attack, so this type of indirect attack strategy is being used.

KANSAS

From the Wichita Eagle:

Robin Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, wants his organization to start managing parks owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Jennison told Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commissioners such an arrangement could help state parks and the federal government.

“The reality of it is, the federal government is looking for ways to save money,” Jennison said during Thursday’s (Oct. 18) commission meeting. “If we could manage their parks like they’re our own, it could be to their advantage and our advantage.”

Jennison said he’s in early discussions with Corps of Engineer officials.

Currently, the Corps of Engineers manages campgrounds at several Kansas lakes, including Marion Reservoir.

Jennison said the federal campgrounds are competition for Kansas state parks, and often have better locations and lower rates.

He’s not sure if the federal parks would be leased by Wildlife and Parks, or if they’d be given to the state.

The concept is also being discussed in other states.

Jennison said the federal agency approached Kansas state parks about 20 years ago about making a similar arrangement, but was defeated by Corps of Engineer employees and campers who preferred the federal park pricing.

 

Colorado’s Fern Lake Fire 30% Contained

October 15, 2012 by · Comments Off on Colorado’s Fern Lake Fire 30% Contained 

Light rain and snow this weekend over Colorado’s high country wasn’t enough to extinguish a wildfire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park, but it did help firefighters get a handle on the blaze, KUNC Radio, Greeley, Colo., reported.

The Fern Lake fire now covers 673 acres and is 30% contained. The fire has been burning since Oct. 9 about three miles west of Estes Park. The Moraine Park Campground is closed due to the fire.

The blaze is burning in rugged terrain with large areas of beetle-killed trees.

No structures are threatened at this time. There are 98 people currently assigned to the Fern Lake Fire. A National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) Team took over command Friday. The Coloradoan reports some personnel are being released as containment grows.

Investigators with the National Park Service are seeking information about how the fire started. Anyone with information is asked to call (970) 586-1399.

 

The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs

October 12, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs 

WISCONSIN

From madison.com:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants to tighten the noose around the forests’ most damaging invaders by reducing to 10 miles the distance from which a state campground user may carry in firewood.

Paul DeLong, the state’s chief forester, said the increased presence of invasive pests such as the emerald ash borer, beech bark disease, and oak wilt is behind the recommendation to go before the Natural Resources Board on Oct. 24.

The current rule states only firewood originating from 25 miles or less may be brought onto a state forest or state property or wood that comes from a vendor certified by the state as treating their wood to stop the transmission of pests or diseases.

“Buying local or certified firewood is an excellent way to prevent the movement of pest and disease that can damage our forests and community trees,” DeLong said.

COLORADO

From The Coloradoan, Fort Collins:

Steep, rugged terrain in an area heavily forested with mountain pine-beetle kill trees is keeping firefighters away from the Fern Lake Fire burning 660 acres in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“The area is so heavily fuel-loaded, so steep and rugged, that we can’t safely insert hand crews to do a direct attack,” said park spokesman Norm Rooker, adding that containment lines are being set up away from the fire where possible.

The fire remains uncontained, despite the limited hand-crew work and firefighting efforts from three helicopters. No structures are threatened, and the nearest campground is Moraine Park Campground about 3½ miles east of the fire. The campground remains closed since shortly after the fire started Tuesday afternoon

More than 90 people, seven fire engines and multiple heavy helicopters are working to fight the fire. A national fire team is being brought in to prepare for a long-term wildfire fight, Rooker said.

TEXAS

From KENS-TV, San Antonio:

Overnight camping will be allowed at Government Canyon State Natural Area in west Bexar County.

The park first opened to in 2005 and beginning today (Oct. 12), the public will be able to camp out Friday and Saturday nights.

The park is located on the far north west corner of the city, on Galm Road just off Culebra.

Space is limited to 25 campsites and there is a $6 entrance fee per person and an $18 fee for overnight camping.

NEVADA

From The Associated Press:

State and federal officials in Nevada have lifted fire restrictions that have been in place since the middle of June on most state and U.S. lands in western Nevada.

The restrictions expired at 12:01 a.m. today (Oct. 12) on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Carson and Bridgeport ranger districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Nevada Division of Forestry’s Sierra Fire Protection District.

Agency officers say the increased fuel moisture levels and cooler evening temperatures make it possible to lift the restrictions. That includes state park land at Lake Tahoe, Washoe Lake and the Carson River Ranches portion of Ft. Churchill and Dayton.

The U.S. Forest Service still requires permits for campfires in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

 

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