ARWC recently participated in an important community-wide meeting in Cuchara hosted by the Spanish Peaks Alliance for Wildfire Protection. The meeting was a highlight of the Alliance's Summer Community Education and Training Program.
The community meeting saw a packed house of concerned citizens, Firewise community leaders and Fire Adapted Colorado network members. Various agencies and organizations reported on milestones and achievements sparked by the 2018 Spring Creek Fire in Huerfano and Costilla counties. Discussions at the meeting covered thinning efforts, a recent mass wind-throw event, a shaded fuel break demonstration and prescribed burning.
ARWC Chief Operations Officer Carrie Adair and Fuels Mitigation Specialist Margaret Strozyk were featured speakers at the community meeting along with:
• Destiny Chapman and Dennis Page, U.S. Forest Service.
• Paul Branson and Jared Fleming, Colorado State Forest Service.
• Sammie Molinaro, Natural Resource Conservation Service.
• Craig Yenzer, Spanish Peaks Alliance for Wildfire Protection.
• Ron Jameson, La Veta Fire Protection District.
Forest Service Firefighter Allyson introduces kids to her firefighting gear during the recent Kids Purgatoire-Cucharas Health Forests Stewardship Day. The event brought kids from the Trinidad Youth Club to San Isabel National Forest where they learned about ARWC's collaborative forest health project with the Purgatoire Watershed Partnership.
The Purgatoire Watershed Partnership enjoyed a successful Kids Purgatoire-Cucharas Healthy Forests Stewardship Day with the Trinidad Youth Club. The kids enjoyed a fun day in the San Isabel National Forest learning about wildfire and how to improve forest health.
Attendees learned about our collaborative Purgatoire and Cucharas Rivers fuel mitigation project that kicked off this summer. ARWC is partnering with the PWP's 17 local and regional partners, and we are all working together to make forests healthier and safer in these sister watersheds. Our project provides a great opportunity to educate the next generation about this important work.
It was a beautiful day for the kids to connect with nature. Highlights included a picnic lunch at the Purgatoire Campground, and Forest Service firefighter Allyson let the kids try on her firefighting gear. After lunch, everyone headed up the North Fork Trail for a stewardship hike along the North Fork of the Purgatoire River. It was a great chance learn a few things, enjoy our public lands and pack out trash left along the trail.
Due to the unexpected wintry weather May 21, our last slash collection day was canceled. We've added a slash event June 25 for those who have slash ready to be dropped off.
Due to weather concerns, we have decided to cancel Saturday's slash collection to avoid potential safety issues. Check back for more info.
The Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative took center stage Friday at the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum during a panel discussion titled Wildfire Mitigation and Restoration in the Arkansas River Basin. ARWC Executive Director Jonathan Paklaian moderated the discussion, and Lead Forester Andy Lerch delivered a presentation about ARWC's work to support Ark Basin communities through projects addressing watershed issues like forest health, post-wildfire recovery and post-fire water quality.
The Arkansas River Basin Water Forum is now accepting session proposals for the Forum to be held at the Salida Steam Plant on April 28 and 29, 2022. Sessions are 60 or 90 minutes, depending upon the content. The theme of this year’s Water Forum has yet to be developed.
Please send session proposals to the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum no later than January 14, 2022, via email to email@example.com. No late submissions will be accepted. The planning committee will review all proposals and make selections by January 24, 2022.
Fishers Peak, the centerpiece of one of Colorado's newest state parks.
Fishers Peak, the iconic butte overlooking Trinidad is now protected as one of Colorado’s newest state parks. Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Fishers Peak State Park Planning Team are engaging stakeholders as part of the master planning process for the new park. ARWC Executive Director Jonathan Paklaian attended a recent stakeholder meeting to review proposed plans and take a tour of the park.
In addition to the flat-topped mountain, Fishers Peak State Park encompasses 19,200 acres of land known to locals as Crazy French Ranch. The Trinidad City Council approved the purchase of 4,000 acres of the ranch as a city park and began working with The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land.
With the two national nonprofits on board, the effort expanded and received additional funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. CPW monies came from its Habitat Stamp funds.
The new state park includes pristine oak and pine forests, volcanic cliffs and grasslands surrounding Fishers Peak, which dominates the view from Trinidad. ARWC is engaged in the master planning effort as protecting this natural landscape protects headwaters tributaries of the Purgatoire River in the southern Arkansas River Basin.
The Master Plan for the park will include various recreational elements as well as preservation of natural ecosystems and landscapes. More information about the park and the draft Master Plan can be found here.
Stakeholders get a tour of the new Fishers Peak State Park near Trinidad.
From left: Dennis Page, U.S. Forest Service Fire Management Division 3 Chief, San Carlos Ranger District; Ed Skerjanec, BLM Fire Mitigation Specialist; John Grieve, Colorado State Forest Service Supervisory Forester of Forest Planning and Implementation; and Steve Douglas, firefighter and Ember Alliance member.
For more than a decade, the Middle Arkansas Wildfire Prevention Partnership (MAWPP) has worked at the forefront of wildfire mitigation in Fremont, Custer, and Pueblo counties through a collaborative effort among multiple agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado State Forest Service, and local entities and individuals, including firefighters.
As part of a decision to disband, the Partnership’s board of directors decided to transfer to ARWC their remaining assets to support ongoing fire mitigation efforts. During a ceremony at Pueblo Mountain Park, MAWPP board members Amy Daniels and Todd Bell, and long-standing member Steve Douglas, were honored for their dedication to the Partnership’s mission. They volunteered countless hours working to promote fire mitigation throughout the Wet Mountain region at multiple meetings and events in area communities and organized drop-off days at the slash site on Highway 78, aka 12-Mile Road.
To fill the gap left by MAWPP, ARWC has formed a mitigation group in the Middle Ark Basin area to collaborate on fire mitigation and prevention projects. ARWC has also taken over management of the slash site and will continue to organize approximately three drop-off days per year. This continued management includes informing residents about the opportunity to drop off slash to be burned by the U.S. Forest Service personnel.
We are incredibly grateful for all the wildfire mitigation and education work accomplished by MAWPP, and we are honored that they have entrusted us to carry their efforts forward at a time when the risk of catastrophic wildfire continues to grow.
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