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Historic Wildfires Mostly Sparing RV Parks

August 11, 2014 by · Comments Off on Historic Wildfires Mostly Sparing RV Parks 

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

As wildfires — some of them historically large — ravage the west coast, the news for independent RV parks and campgrounds has thus far been somewhat positive, if close calls and very slow business could be called positive. While many thousands of square miles have been burned in Washington, California and Oregon, as well as hundreds of homes and a handful of state and national campgrounds, the blazes of late summer 2014 have yet to claim a non-government run RV park or campground.

“We have yet to hear of any parks forced to close from fire in those states,” said Paul Bambei, CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). “Right now, I think the main message is, business continues and parks are open for any and all comers. Unless anybody tells me not to say that, that’s generally my pat response.”

That’s certainly the message that park owner Cheryl Ethrington is hoping to get out about her Riverbend RV Park near Twisp, Wash., which was threatened by the Carlton Complex fire, the largest in Washington state history. “Everyone is hearing on the news that Twisp is burned up, but it’s here and we’re still open,” she said. “In fact we have nothing but green around us here and the air quality is good. Unfortunately we only have four sites occupied whereas normally we’d have 70. Everything is fine except we have no customers.”

Carlton RV Park owner Bob Gibson said his park was also untouched by flame, though his personal residence was a different story. “It feels like a bomb zone,” he said. “It took out our barn, cabinet shop and an old log chicken house, and the fire burned right up next to the the house, licked it a couple times but didn’t burn it. We were standing in the yard with garden hoses, flames coming through the 50-foot trees, running over the ground, and we’re fighting it back with garden hoses. So it was more than touch-and-go, it was like, go, go, go.”

With the Carlton fire mostly under wraps at 91 percent contained, a new fire in Oregon has quickly gained strength, forcing the evacuation of 150 homes near Rowena, Ore., and threatening 700 more. In California, three large fires near Lassen National Forest seem to be causing the most concern. The Eiler fire near Burney has consumed eight homes and appears to have marched over the Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV Park and Campground, though initial reports have been that the facilities were spared. Phone service was down at the time of writing.

“We seem to have a lot of smaller fires, at least in comparison to previous years,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC). “But so far they seem to be confined to pretty rural areas and nothing has gotten seriously out of control.”

One of the unique things about RV parks near fire zones, Sipe pointed out, is that they typically have resources that firefighting crews need such as temporary housing, restrooms, electricity, sometimes fuel, and that can often be their saving grace.

Lassen RV Resort owner Phil Martin said his park, still several miles from the Eiler fire, has had the opportunity help others. “We’ve actually got people here that were evacuated from their homes nearby, and so we’ve done the best we can to give them a nice discount and accommodate them during such a tough time.”

Although the wildfire season may be far from other without drastic improvements in the weather, for now, Bambei said the best his organization can do is to be available to help wherever possible, and to encourage people to continue to go camping, checking for themselves on park and road closures. The substantive help that ARVC offers to member parks comes in the form of a disaster relief fund, a donation-based pool that is managed by the educational arm of the association.

“It’s for parks that are in need or urgently in need and it’s rare that the relief requests are denied,” Bambei said. “We had floods here in Colorado last fall that were just horrendous and we had funds released for that, as well as for floods in Missouri a few years back and hurricanes on the eastern seaboard. But so far this year, we haven’t had any requests for assistance for fire in states west of the Mississippi.”

Disaster Sparks Insurance Coverage Reviews

September 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on Disaster Sparks Insurance Coverage Reviews 

Editor’s Note: Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) contacted several campground insurers to comment on the fires in the West. Following are excerpts from their comments.

When it comes to forest fires, there are a few different coverages that apply, noted Damian Petty, an agent for Leavitt Recreation and Hospitality Insurance. Insurance can pay one of two ways:

•  “If the fire actually comes onto the property and catches a building on fire, most people have some type of business income coverage. However the key is the building or item has to be covered by the policy to trigger the business income coverage. For example, let’s say you have 40 sites that are on the back portion of the property but no buildings caught on fire. It would not trigger the coverage. However having just a few things insured like fences, outdoor equipment, pedestals or something like that is always a good idea because this could trigger the cancellation of business income coverage.

“With this being said and if coverage was available, most people don’t understand that the insurance will only pay for Net Profit, Continuing Expenses, and, if purchased, Extra Expenses. It will pay until the buildings are replaced or repaired and normally only up to 12 months. Most people think that it pays for Gross Income and this is what causes most of the problems when people get the check from the insurance company because it is much less than the gross income they thought they were going to get.

So, how does the insurance company go about determining the loss?

“Normally, they will look back on prior years’ taxes or accounting records to determine actual loss and compare them to your records during the time you were closed.

•  “The other Business Income that is on almost every policy is one for Civil Authority. If the forest fire is headed your way and civil authority requires you to leave your property, you have coverage for two weeks. Some companies are extending this to three and sometimes four weeks. However, one of the key parts to this coverage is you have to be required to leave your property as well as be gone for 72 hours before the coverage is triggered. They will pay you for your loss of income back to the first day you were required to leave, but the 72 hours is a deductible. For example, if you were required to leave like in the Canon City fires in Colorado this year, they were allowed back in and could open within the 72-hour period so no coverage would be offered. Some companies are doing right by people and paying because the road was closed for 68 hours but they don’t have to, according to the policy terms. However, the South Fork Fires in Colorado this year were a little different. They were required to leave for 8-10 days depending on where the business was located. This will pay for the entire time they were closed.”

Things that are not covered:

• You might be requested to prepare to be evacuated. The policy does not cover you for this time.

• Cancelation of reservations for future dates. Let’s say the fire is in June but people cancel for August. It will not pay for these.

• Maybe your resort is not closed but the highway that is mainly used to get to you was closed but people can drive around and still get to your resort.

• Extra Expenses might not be covered depending on the language in the policy.

• Your buildings burn on Sept 30 and you close for the season on Oct 10. They will only pay for loss of income for 10 days.

*****

Tom Gerken

Tom Gerkin, an independent consultant for USI Insurance, reported, “Business interruption insurance or loss of income coverage is definitely a coverage option which most park owners take advantage of. Some insurance companies include some limited coverage in their policies with no additional premium charge, and with an option to purchase higher limits. Others offer it only as an option. Some carriers require you purchase a specific dollar amount of coverage while others leave this area wide open with ‘actual loss incurred’ policy language.

“The important thing for business owners to be aware of is that this is coverage for net income plus ongoing expenses, it does not cover their gross income. Oftentimes, lenders will ask park owners to provide coverage limits equal to their gross income. This is not prudent, as the premiums can be significant. Park owners should be certain their coverage is adequate, but not excessive. Most policies have a deductible for business interruption insurance as well. Instead of a dollar amount, the most common deductible I have seen is a 72-hour deductible, meaning there will be no coverage provided for that initial time frame. As with any insurance, the intent is to place you in the condition you were in prior to the loss.”

*****

Campgrounds can guard against the loss of business while they are forced to close if they carry “business income and extra expense” coverage, also called “business interruption” coverage.

Lucas Hartford

This insurance covers the campground if there are government ordered closures that affect the business, explained Lucas Hartford, president of Evergreen USA.

“Most typically, we see this with wildfires in the West or hurricanes on the East Coast. Most companies usually have a deductible period of one to three days of closure before the coverage begins but after that the business is compensated for their net income loss,” Hartford said.

He estimated that 35% to 45% of campgrounds do purchase this coverage with limits varying from $5,000 of coverage to $5,000,000 of coverage.  But the average campground buys $50,000-$200,000 of coverage, he said.

“So far this year, Evergreen has been very fortunate and had very few large natural disasters affect its campgrounds that it insures,” he said. “The biggest natural disasters we have had have been some localized severe thunderstorms in the Northeast and Midwest. But we are remaining cautiously optimistic as hurricane season is upon us which is typically the greatest peril we face for our insureds.”

 

 

Western Forest Fires – An Overplayed Crisis?

September 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on Western Forest Fires – An Overplayed Crisis? 

Forest fires threatened campgrounds across the U.S. West this season. Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

The horrific wildfires that scorched over 230 square miles of forest land near Yosemite National Park in California and more than 150 square miles in Central Idaho in August were the most dramatic of hundreds of wildfires that are making this year one of the worst U.S. fire seasons on record.

On Aug. 26, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, 50 major uncontained wildfires were burning throughout the West, including California, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. More than 19,000 firefighters were fighting the fires.

In California, more than 3,000 firefighters battled the Rim Fire as it burned just outside of Yosemite. Yosemite Lakes RV Resort at Hardin Flat, an Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. (ELS) park, was in the middle of the burn area. Yosemite Ridge in Buck Meadows was temporarily evacuated but campers were allowed to return, after the fire burned right up to but not through the park. A third neighboring park, Yosemite Pines in Groveland, seemed safe as the fire appeared headed away from there.

These and similar campgrounds and RV parks in the paths of these flaming cauldrons across the Western U.S. have fallen victim in one way or another. But, says the executive of one state campground association, campers should remember to keep the fires in perspective.

“What is always disheartening to me is, people think the entire state is on fire,” Anne Chambers, executive director of the Boise-based Idaho RV Campgrounds Association (IRVCA), told Woodall’s Campground Management on Aug. 21. “That is not the case. Do we have major fires? Yes. Will they disrupt travel plans for most people? Probably not.”

Indeed, on that date, while several national forest campgrounds in the mountainous Sawtooth National Forest region of central Idaho were closed due to the Beaver Creek Fire which started on Aug. 7, Chambers knew of only one privately owned park, the Meadows RV Park in Ketchum, that was directly affected by the blaze. The 43-site park is located on U.S. 75 just south of Sun Valley. (See related story.)

Thirty miles to the east of the major fires, at the Craters of the Moon KOA in Arco, Idaho, life was pretty much as usual.

“People are asking us how the smoke is before they come here,” said Debbie Belknap, acting manager. “We can see the smoke in the air far away but we can’t smell it. I’ve only been here for a few weeks but I can’t say that it has affected anything.”

A few of the campers were evacuees from the fire zone. They had packed up what they could in their two vehicles and headed to the KOA earlier in the month, she noted. They have since left.

Most of Idaho’s 250 privately owned campgrounds were not affected by the fires, Chambers stressed.

In fact, Chambers said, “It’s been a great season for most of the campgrounds, and a banner season for some of them. The RV population in Idaho has been traveling and it’s been fabulous. I have yet to hear anyone say it (business) has been off this year. To this point it’s been good. I’m grateful the fires didn’t start until later in the season. It allowed most (parks) to have a good May, June, July and most of August.”

But all this does not hide the fact that fighting the Beaver Creek Fire and the nearby Elk Fire was the National Forest Service’s (NFS) No. 1 priority that month, Chambers was told during a meeting with NFS officials in Boise as the fires raged.

More than 1,200 people and 19 aircraft battled the lightning-caused Beaver Creek Fire. Nearly 90 fire engines were assigned to the region, many protecting homes in the affluent area where celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis own pricey getaways.

While Boise lies some three hours west of the fire zone, it was more or less unaffected by the inferno. In past years when fires burned in the national forests, it was not unusual for Chambers to smell smoke in the state’s Treasure Valley on the west side of the state where Boise is located.

“Not so much this time,” she said. “The wind seems to be blowing from west to east and blowing the smoke into Montana instead of blowing it our way,” she said.

Elsewhere in the region, in nearby Yellowstone National Park, a series of five wildfires became known as the “Druid Complex” and covered more than 11,000 acres.

Speaking for Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), which has numerous campgrounds in the West, “aside for a bit of smoke (even in Billings) campgrounds are unaffected. All are open and operating as usual,” said Mike Gast, vice president of communications.

California Fires

In California, fires affected several campgrounds too.

In this Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, a member of the Bureau of Land Management Silver State Hotshot crew from Elko, Nevada, walks through a burn operation on the southern flank of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in Calif. / MIKE MCMILLAN,AP PHOTO/U.S. FOREST SERVICE

In Stanislaus National Forest area just outside Yosemite National Park, some 900 firefighters were battling the Rim Fire that started on Aug. 17 and had scorched more than 100 square miles within the first week. A state of emergency was declared. Several camps were evacuated that day as a safety precaution. Those included: San Jose’s Family Camp, Berkeley Tuolomne Camp, San Francisco’s Mather Camp and Camp Tawonga. About 200 senior citizens and a few dozen staffers were forced to evacuate from Camp Mather, which is owned and operated by the city of San Francisco as a public getaway for city families and was hosting a special week for the group.

The national park itself remained open and tourism was reported at normal levels inside the park.

The Chariot Fire broke out on July 6 near Julian, 60 miles east of San Diego, and destroyed the lodge, dining hall and all but about a dozen of 116 cabins at Al Bahr Mount Laguna Shrine Camp. A Sierra Club lodge across the road also burned.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” Shriner Donald Wierman told U-T San Diego.

The camp, located in the Cleveland National Forest, was leased from forestry officials in 1921. It was at an elevation of 6,000 feet. About 30 people were evacuated from cabins and campgrounds before the fire hit.

Merchants in the mountain community of Idyllwild, which relies heavily on summer tourists, saw profits wane in the face of two major fires this summer, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

Visitors were slowly returning to towns in the San Jacinto Mountains after the Mountain Fire in July burned more than 27,000 acres of forest and led to a four-day evacuation for Idyllwild and a few other towns.

Then, the Silver Fire burned south of Banning in mid-August, closing Highway 243 and cutting off access to Idyllwild from the north.

On the south side of the mountain, the Lake Hemet Campground saw a definite decline in business. The campground was emptied during the Mountain Fire and served as a base for some of the 3,000-plus firefighters who were on duty. Now, operators are hoping campers will return.

“During the fire, people were calling up and cancelling,” General Manager Tim Colvin said in mid-August. “People think we were damaged here and they’re not calling. The phone should be ringing a lot more than it is right now.”

Mid-July to mid-August is traditionally the campground’s busiest season, with occupancy rates topping 80% for the park’s 600 spaces.

Two weeks after the Mountain Fire, occupancy was less than 70%.

The campground, which has fishing and boating as well, offered some bargains in hopes of attracting campers. Anyone who signed up for two nights of camping got a third night free, and those who stayed two nights got a free boat launch.

“We want people to know this campground wasn’t affected in any way,” Colvin said.

Camp Colorado Touts State

Camp Colorado takes lead in responding to wildfire news.

In June, Colorado was racked by several fires, one of them destroying the aerial tramway in the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park near Canon City. The fire burned 3,218 acres before being declared 100% contained on June 17. The park was within the burn area and, while the bridge itself survived, 48 of the park’s 52 buildings were destroyed.

Camp Colorado Executive Director Josh Keltner, in an appearance on Denver television on June 21, encouraged campers and other tourists to visit the Royal Gorge Region, which rebounded nicely following the three-day fire that damaged the Royal Gorge Bridge but left all private campgrounds unaffected.

“If you’re planning to go to the Royal Gorge Region this weekend or anywhere in the near future and you were thinking about canceling because of the fires, don’t,” Keltner told 9News, the Denver TV station.

9News went on to report that while the Royal Gorge suspension bridge needs repair, the railroad below “is 100% open and… this weekend the river is open thorough the gorge too, a relief to the workers who depend on tourists.”

The station made note of a large fire burning that same day near the Colorado town of South Park, 155 miles southwest of Cañon City. But that fire wasn’t affecting other areas of the state, which has 350 private campgrounds – virtually all of them open.

Camp Colorado, the state’s campground trade association, played a key role in correcting the misimpression that the Royal Gorge Region should be avoided. With the exception of the bridge, which reopened later in the summer, stores, restaurants and museums were open, and biking, hiking and rafting opportunities abounded.

The Black Forest Fire erupted in June near Colorado Springs and scorched more than 25 square miles, killed two people and destroyed nearly 400 buildings. The blaze surpassed last June’s Waldo Canyon Fire as the most destructive in state history.

Other Areas

While central Idaho burned, crews continued battling other wildfires across the West, including a group of three fires near the Oregon city of The Dalles, on the Columbia River, The Associated Press reported.

In Utah, a series of mountain fires burned more than a dozen homes in mid-August and more than 100 residents who were forced to leave Rockport Estates and Rockport Ranches, about 45 miles east of Salt Lake City.

Utah’s biggest blaze, the Patch Springs Fire, was estimated at 50 square miles.

In New Mexico, campgrounds in almost all of the Santa Fe National Forest and some nearby state parks were closed part of June due to ongoing fire risks.

In Arizona, 19 members of an elite “hotshots” crew died while battling a separate fire on June 30. –

Jarvis: More $$$ Needed to Fight Forest Fires

September 6, 2013 by · Comments Off on Jarvis: More $$$ Needed to Fight Forest Fires 

Jon Jarvis

Federal land managers have been fighting an uphill battle to gain additional funds to reduce the threat of wildfires in the West, according to National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis.

However, according to a posting by National Parks Traveler, recent fires such as the Rim Fire that burned into Yosemite National Park seem to be sending the message to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that more money is needed to reduce fuels, the director said during a recent “National Webchat” with NPS staff across the country.

“My heart goes out to Yosemite National Park, which is dealing with the Rim Fire and to all the National Park Service employees who are currently deployed at Planning Level V. I’m sure we’ve got hundreds and hundreds of firefighters out there, on the line right now and entire organizations,” Director Jarvis said in a response to a question concerning the backlog in “fuel mitigation treatments” — forest thinning and prescribed burns, for example — in the parks.

Click here to read the entire story from National Parks Traveler.

 

 

Idaho Fire Forces Four Campground Closures

September 3, 2013 by · Comments Off on Idaho Fire Forces Four Campground Closures 

The 9,000-acre Raft Fire is seen Aug. 30 east of the Snake River in the Payette National Forest. Photo courtesy of the Payette National Forest

A complex of fires burning in the Payette National Forest in central Idaho forced the closure of four campgrounds just in time for the holiday weekend.

The Weiser Complex Fire has torched 25,000 acres and is 45% contained, Payette National Forest officials said Sunday (Sept. 1), the Idaho Press-Tribune, Nampa, reported

“This was a tough weekend to have fires on the district as Labor Day weekend brings hundreds of people into the forest,” Weiser District Ranger Greg Leach said in a news release. “Added is the fact that hunting season opened and this is a popular hunting area. We are working to reopen the area as soon as possible, but a date has not been set as we need to focus on these fires for now.”

The campgrounds include Spring Creek, Kawanis, Justrite and Paradise. More than 560 personnel are battling the fire burning 20 miles northwest of Midvale.

The Thunder City Fire, also in the Payette National Forest, was threatening structures in the historic Thunder Mountain Mining District. The blaze has reached 14,000 acres and is 15% contained. It has run into an area burned in the 2007 Goat Fire, and is not expected to move rapidly through that area.

Meanwhile, full containment was reached Saturday for the Beaver Creek Fire, which had charred more than 110,000 acres north of Hailey. That was thwarted by the discovery of hot spots in heavier fuels near Wolftone Creek.

Current Briefs for RV Parks and Campgrounds

August 29, 2013 by · Comments Off on Current Briefs for RV Parks and Campgrounds 

MONTANA

From The Missoulian, Missoula:

Glacier National Park has announced upcoming closing dates for everything from campgrounds and hotels, to boat tours and horseback rides.

One of the key ending dates is Monday (Sept. 2). Labor Day will be the final day the park offers its free shuttle service over Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The campgrounds close at noon of the date listed (note that a few campgrounds switch to primitive camping for part of the fall, which means pit toilets, no potable or drinking water available and a reduced number of camping sites. Camping fees are also reduced to $10 per night).

Also, ranger-led hikes and evening programs continue through September, and Red Bus Tours close on the same date that the hotels they operate out of close.

Click here for the entire story.

From the Billings Gazette:

Closures around the Horsetail fire in the Hyalite Recreation Area near Bozeman, and the Sheep fire in Tom Miner Basin near Gardiner, will be shrinking at noon today (Aug. 29).

In Hyalite the public will be allowed back into the West Fork of Hyalite Creek all the way to Hyalite Peak. That means Chisholm and Hood Creek campgrounds, Maxey and Window Rock cabins, as well as the Crescent Lake Trail and Palace Butte Trailhead that leads to Hyalite Peak and Grotto Falls will be open.

The East Fork of Hyalite Creek will remain closed, including the Palisade Falls Trailhead and Picnic area, Emerald and Heather Lakes Trailhead and Flanders Creek drainage.

The Tom Miner Basin Road leading up to and including the Tom Miner Campground will be opened. Also reopening are trail No. 120 from Tom Miner Campground leading to Buffalo Horn Pass, as well as Sunlight Creek Trail No. 291. The Divide Creek Road No. 3250 will also be opened. An area around the Sheep fire from Sheep Creek to the west and Grizzly Creek to the east and the forest boundary to the north and Yellowstone National Park boundary to the south will remain closed. This includes Horse Creek Trail No. 297 that leads to Shooting Star Lake.

The Gallatin National Forest would like to remind the public that Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are still in effect across the entire forest, meaning campfires and charcoal fires are only allowed at Forest Service selected recreation sites.

VIRGINIA

From National Parks Traveler:

The arrival of the emerald ash borer into Shenandoah National Park heightens the concern over what this invasive insect might do to the park’s forests, and reinforces why the park asks that you not bring firewood into the park.

The emerald ash borer is a half-inch-long metallic green beetle that lays its eggs on the bark of ash trees. After hatching, larvae burrow under the bark, creating feeding tunnels that cut off nutrients and water flow to the tree. Trees typically die within three to five years of being infected.

Click here to read the entire story.

PENNSYLVANIA

From myconestogavalleynews.com:

East Lampeter Township supervisors have given Country Acres Campground the approval to expand its camping facility near Gordonville.

The campground received final approval at the supervisors meeting Aug. 20 to remove five existing campsites and develop 19 new ones for a total of 100 camping sites. The plan is to join two lots together for an 18.4-acre lot for the additional campsites.

The campground also plans to build a new pavilion and bathhouse on the property and to widen the access road into the campground.

The final land development plan was approved, provided the campground meets the conditions imposed by the engineering firm of Rettew Associates.

One of the conditions include the campground having a speed limit study done for the entire length of Leven Road as well as a study of a no-parking option for both sides of Leven Road from Lincoln Highway East to the campground entrance.

Another condition is that the campground needs to provide a clear site triangle easement agreement for the portions of the clear site triangle at the intersection of Leven Road and Lincoln Highway East.

The campground, which is owned by Bird-in-Hand Corp., is served by on-lot water and public sewer and is located within the Gordonville Village Growth Area. It is open from March to November.

Campfire Update in California Camping Areas

August 29, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Map shows current wildfires in California. Red denotes the most severe. Map courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

The Rim Fire has burned nearly 190,000 acres in California’s Tuolumne and Mariposa counties since it began Aug. 17. Many areas remain under evacuation orders and the entire southern part of Sequoia National Forest (the Groveland Ranger District) is under a temporary closure. Highway 120 remains closed outside of Yosemite’s western boundary, the Merced Sun-Star reported.

Because of this year’s extreme danger, fire restrictions have been put into effect throughout the state. Here’s a summary of current restrictions for national forest lands in the Sierra Nevada:

Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument: Campfires are prohibited in this southernmost part of the Sierra. Gas stoves and lanterns may be operated with a California Campfire Permit in established recreation areas only.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: Campfires are prohibited below the 6,000 foot elevation level. Above this elevation they are allowed in campgrounds, but not outside of them.

Sierra, Inyo, El Dorado, Tahoe, and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Area: Campfires are allowed in developed campgrounds only. Portable stoves and lanterns may be operated in other areas with a California Campfire Permit.

Yosemite National Park: Campfires are allowed in developed campgrounds.

Stanislaus National Forest: Although the Groveland Ranger District and part of the MiWok Ranger District are currently closed to the public, other parts of the forest are open. Because the Rim fire is burning in this forest and evacuation orders have been extended as far as Pinecrest, it’s probably not a good camping choice until the fire is out. If you plan a trip there, call for current campfire/stove/lantern regulations and for recommended destinations.

Wilderness Areas: Throughout most of the Sierra’s wilderness areas, backpackers are currently prohibited from building campfires. If you’re planning a trip, check with the ranger station that issues your wilderness permit.

 

Update: Chicago-Size Rim Fire 20% Contained

August 27, 2013 by · Comments Off on Update: Chicago-Size Rim Fire 20% Contained 

An undated photo of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park. Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

The Rim Fire in California that has scorched an area roughly the size of Chicago near Yosemite National Park was 20% contained Monday nigh (Aug. 26), officials said — a jump from 7% the previous night, NBC News reported.

But fire, stretching 250 square miles, still threatens 4,500 structures as well as the power and water utilities for San Francisco, roughly 200 miles to the west. It has charred 160,980 acres and was growing rapidly, hampering suppression efforts, authorities said Monday night.

The raging flames also loomed over towering sequoias that are among the largest and oldest living things on the planet. The iconic trees can withstand fire, but brutal conditions — including harsh winds and thick brush — have prompted park employees to take extra precautions in the Tuolumne and Merced groves

Click here to read the entire story and to see photos from the fire.

 

 

Update: Calif.’s Rim Fire is Only 7% Contained

August 26, 2013 by · Comments Off on Update: Calif.’s Rim Fire is Only 7% Contained 

This Google map shows the proximity of the Rim Fire (shown in darker brown) to Yosemite National park.

Hundreds of firefighters were digging trenches, clearing brush and starting back blazes to keep a wildfire raging north of Yosemite National Park out of several mountain hamlets, The Associated Press reported.

Inaccessible terrain, strong winds and bone-dry conditions have hampered their efforts to contain the Rim Fire, which began Aug. 17 and has grown to become one of the biggest in California history.

Firefighters were hoping to advance on the flames Monday but strong winds were threatening push the blaze closer to Tuolumne City and nearby communities.

“This fire has continued to pose every challenge that there can be on a fire…,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “It’s a very difficult firefight.”

The fire has consumed nearly 225 square miles of picturesque forests. Officials estimate containment at just 7%.

It continues burning in the remote wilderness area of Yosemite and is edging closer to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of San Francisco’s famously pure drinking water, park spokesman Tom Medema said.

Despite ash falling like snowflakes on the reservoir and a thick haze of smoke limiting visibility to 100 feet, the quality of the water piped to the city 150 miles away is still good, say officials with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The city’s hydroelectric power generated by the system has been interrupted by the fire, forcing the utility to spend $600,000 buying power on the open market.

Park employees are continuing their efforts to protect two groves of giant sequoias that are unique to the region by cutting brush and setting sprinklers, Medema said.

200 Battling Yellowstone ‘Druid Complex’ Fire

August 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on 200 Battling Yellowstone ‘Druid Complex’ Fire 

Hundreds of firefighters were battling five different wildfires in Yellowstone National Park on Thursday. This line crew was heading out to the Alum Fire on Wednesday. NPS photo courtesy of National Parks Traveler.

More than 200 firefighters on Thursday (Aug. 22) were battling five wildfires that covered more than 11,000 acres in Yellowstone National Park, and received some help from cooler, wetter weather, National Parks Traveler reported.

Combined, the five lightning-sparked blazes were being managed as the Druid Complex.

Click here to read the entire story from National Parks Traveler.

 

 

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