Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Uncategorized
“…can prevent forest fires.” Yes, we have all heard Smokey the Bear uttering his famous admonition. But I write this morning to urge all campers and RVers to please be aware of the fire danger in the areas they are camping and to adhere to any imposed fire restrictions. As a rule, campers are a very conscientious lot, caring a great deal for the wild places we visit, but there is a special reason for my caution.
As I write this, a devastating wildfire is destroying the beautiful city and surrounding wild spaces around Colorado Springs, CO. It has already consumed hundreds of acres and an incredible number of homes. An additional 32,000 homes are frantically being evacuated, as is the US Air Force Academy there. Firefighters from around the country have been fighting this fire for days now and it is nowhere near under control.
Now, I know it is not nearly as much fun to camp when you can’t enjoy a nice campfire at the end of the day. My family and I have camped a number of times in various areas of the southwest, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, at times when campfires were prohibited. I think the most difficult time came when we were camped near Flagstaff, AZ to climb Arizona’s highest point, Humphrey’s Peak. I don’t know who Humphrey was but I have a few words for him. It was one of the most difficult hikes I have undertaken, due to a combination of factors: it was steeper and longer than I had planned for, I was hiking with a touch of the flue and two miles from the end of the hike, I sprained my ankle, just before it started to rain! You get the picture…
To make matters worse, we were camped at a lovely rustic campground with one of the nicest fire pits I have ever seen. It was the most difficult night I have had camping to sit around that glorious firepit, icing my ankle, and enjoying NO campfire. But we follow these restrictions because there are important reasons for them; and we want to make sure there is a forest for us all to come back to.
As of this date, I have been staying for just over a month in an area just south of Taos, NM. The Kit Carson National Forest is about to go into stage 2 fire restrictions, which prohibits fires even in campground fire rings. I can also tell you that in the month I have been here, we have had a total of five minutes of rain, not enough even to wet the ground. Conditions are so dry, my small garden area is surviving only because I water it every morning and every evening after the sun goes down. To make matters worse, every afternoon the wind picks up and blows quite hard for about an hour or two and would quickly fan any small spark into a blaze.
I know some of you are thinking that many wildfires are caused by lightening. This is true. In fact this afternoon our area has a 20% chance of thunderstorms. We are told on the weather report that we are not likely to have rain, but we are likely to have some lightening. We are cautioned to be on guard, ready to call the authorities if we see anything concerning.
In spite of the lightening-caused fires, with the incredibly dry conditions and the winds, we simply cannot take the chance that a stray spark from our campfire will cause yet another fire. The potential for harm is too great. Therefore, there are several things you can do to help:
- When you are camping, look at the announcement boards at the entrance to most campgrounds to see if there are fire restrictions. If you see none, please ask,
- Adhere to any restrictions and guidelines for your fire,
- Watch your fire carefully so it does not get out of control,
- If you see something that causes concern, unexplained smoke or a fire when you are under restrictions, please call the authorities at ONCE so they can get ahead of it before it spreads to minimize the damage and, finally
- Please take a moment to say a silent prayer for Colorado.
Read more about Colorado camping and things to do in Colorado.
Last 5 posts by Diane Berry
- The Return to Yerba Canyon - September 1st, 2013
- July 4th: Appreciating the Unspoiled Beauty of Our Country - August 28th, 2013
- We Did It! - August 25th, 2013
- To Summit Lobo Peak - August 18th, 2013
- Italianos Canyon: A Delightful Hike, Part 2 - August 11th, 2013