Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tense Watching Replaces Hiking in the Sandias

A few days back I asked a few hiking friends sitting around a post-hike table of pizza and beer if they knew about any problems with people violating the Class 3 Fire Restrictions in the Sandias. These are tough days for us hiker types, looking every day at all that mountain to be walked around and knowing it's off limits. Certainly not a level of anguish matching the problems animals and plants are having keeping hydrated up there, but irritating nonetheless.

Now we find that two fires were deliberately set around still-open "picnic areas" along the Crest Road. This leads to a few questions:

  1. Why were the campgrounds and the Crest Road still open in the first place?
  2. As a hiker type myself, why would anybody think hiker/campers would be more likely to be careless with fire than somebody in an "official picnic area" along the side of the road?
  3. Why do I, as a hiker/camper type, naturally associate "official picnic areas" like Doc Long with slothful, beergut losers and their overly large families?
  4. Why are national forest restrictions bent to accomodate slothful, beergut losers and their overly large families?
  5. Sheriff Darren White mentioned that the area will see increased patrols. Who are in these patrols and how are they formed?
For the fifth question, I called the Sandia Ranger Station and found out patrols consist of professional and volunteer staff. Due to the severity of the situation Cibola NF is using principally all the seasoned volunteer staff they can get their hands on, but new volunteers are welcome as well.

Those, like myself, interested in helping out can do so by going to the Ranger Station in Tijeras, picking up a "volunteer packet" and setting up a time for training. The person I spoke with mentioned something about training happening "monthly", but perhaps the gravity of the situation will speed that up a bit.

If you're interested, call Dana Howlett at the Ranger Station (281-3304) or drop by from 8:00-5:00 M-F or 8:30-5:00 on Saturday.

I do have a sixth question....

6. We have "Minutemen" and now National Guard troops at the U.S./Mexico border protecting us from that perceived danger. Is anyone besides me much more worried about losing a National Forest than gaining some more highly motivated undocumented workers and their families?

Oh...I know it's about more than that. It's about Al-Qaeda, drug runners, and Spanish spreading like a cancer through the land. Okay, I'll let the matter drop and stick with a simple plea that maybe some National Guard help in the forest might not be a bad idea.

Or maybe we can just hope real hard for a real early, strong monsoon. Or for those more secular types who think "hoping real hard" is dangerously close to praying, maybe we can hookup some cloudseeding planes pronto.

P.S.: Speaking of immigration and firefighting, did anybody see this New York Times story about the importance of "illegal immigrants" to the firefighting effort? Quoting from the story...

"As many as half of the roughly 5,000 private firefighters based in the Pacific Northwest and contracted by state and federal governments to fight forest fires are immigrants, mostly from Mexico. And an untold number of them are working here illegally."

Oh, that's right, "illegal immigrants" suck life from our economy. They add nothing.

2 comments:

Maggie said...

Hi hi. Maggie Shepard here, reporter from The Tribune. I answer some, but not all, of your questions about the fire stuff in my story about the enchanced patrols. It ran Thursday. For somereason, it's not online.

frannyzoo said...

Maggie:

Thanks for replying...I admit I only look at the Trib online about 99% of the time. I'll find a hard copy of that story and get up to speed.