Monday, July 4, 2011

Conchas Fire Aftermath: The Bear Facts

Pajarito Mtn. ski hill at center. 
Taken yesterday afternoon with the new Blackberry
Currently, the best explanation for the circa 124,000 acre (and still slowly growing) Las Conchas fire is it was not caused by human stupidity, at least not directly. Maybe that is good news, but almost anything, human screw-up or act of your favorite deity, is likely to start a forest fire given current drought conditions. At any rate, the current hypothesis is that a tree fell over a power line, sparking the burn. Why trees are not more effectively cut away from power lines given current dry conditions is another question.

But we are home. The town escaped unburned, thanks to huge efforts by local and Federal firefighting teams. And homes were safe, thanks to Chief Torpy and his officers, the National Guard, and nearby state and local police units who chipped in to watch the town with all of us gone.  But its still just a little depressing to be back: the air is thick with acrid smoke and fires are still burning in the surrounding mountains, which took a terrific pounding. Not nice for nature. Or for bicycling and any other aerobic activity. Unless you have a HEPA mask on.

Hey, man, with the forest burned, these digs will have to do
Its not just humans who were displaced last week and unfortunately, many of the critters from the surrounding burn zones don't get to go home. Yesterday evening we got a phone call from our friend Amy, who lives on the Sandia-Trinity Loop. She said her dog treed a bear, who was presently asleep in the big Ponderosa pine in her yard. Never wanting to miss a good picture, we drove over with the Canon T1i and its big zoom and sure enough, Cuddles was up in the tree, now awake, deciding what to do next. I checked to see if I was blocking Cuddle's only way out but no, there were others.
Now, about dinner....

Cuddles up close. 
Don't worry for my sanity; that's ~300 mm of effective zoom
With NM-4 closed except to emergency vehicles and most trails either closed or burned to a crisp, bicycling will be severely limited, both road and off-road. Maybe once the smoke clears, more folks will be able to ride, at least to work. Right now with air quality pretty bad, even that is not a great idea.

Some stuff still burning up there. Park the mountain bike for now
Let's all call the Pajarito Environmental Education Center and County Trails Specialist Craig Martin and help with reseeding the mountains. Once we finish grieving, we need to put things back together again. Sorta...

1 comment:

Chandra said...

Beautiful bear! Glad you guys are ok!!

Peace :)