by Maxine Deeter
For the last two or three years the Forest Service (FS) has been preparing for a vegetative treatment, control burn on “The Mountain” aka the La Sals.
They spent two summers chopping back oak brush along the sides of roads that were to be used as fire breaks. This is no easy task as the oak brush is very thick and stubborn.
An added bonus is that it sure makes driving the narrow mountain roads easier. You can see who or what is coming from the other direction, improving the odds of not having an unpleasant encounter of the first kind. The oak brush is make a vigorous comeback, but is still short in stature.
Last Saturday, June 18, the torch was finally lit to the area of concern, as preparations were complete and conditions right.
The idea is to rid some of the area of dark timber, mostly spruce, which has encroached upon aspen communities, which is what Ma Nature originally planted there.
This, of course, has had some controversy from both left and right. There are those who think we should be leaving nature alone to do its thing without human interference.
That would include removing livestock from grazing these lands.
On the other hand, there were some who thought the timber should be harvested instead of burned.
Well, in theory that seems like a good idea – until you look at the slopes and inaccessible areas of the treatment. Roads would have to be built to access the timber, much of which would still be inaccessible due to the extreme slope.
Besides, with the FS making more and more ‘roadless” areas, there’s not much chance of new roads being constructed. Believe it or not San Juan Countiers who hate the Feds, a lot of research, science and analysis goes into these decisions.
Coming home from the north Saturday, the smoke was first visible just past Crescent Junction. It lay like a thick, fat cloud over the mountain. By the time you turned at La Sal Junction – the south side of The Mountain – the area of the burn – was displayed and a big plume of smoke was ascending from the valleys and gorges facing La Sal. Fortunately, the prevailing wind was from the southwest and smoke was barely discernable in our village.
We ventured to the mountain to check on our camp and found the smoke not to be too oppressive but it was the time of day when the fire was starting to lay down. The view from our camp window is usually just gorgeous in late afternoon, and it was that day too except for the backdrop of think smoke! But this too shall pass.
Meanwhile, back at the La Sal hacienda that night, venturing out in the dark one was able to see the flames in the cleft of the mountain. All in all, some pretty spectacular viewing.
It is that time again – the annual dynamite shoot at Rattlesnake Ranch in West La Sal. That will be this Saturday, June 25. Shooting, and if you are lucky, kabooming is to commence at 8 a.m. This is a sharing event as always.
You need not be present to enjoy the kabooming – it can be heard in town a few miles away. That’s okay, we are used to kabooming especially on Saturday mornings as a lot of folks are out and about shooting the every increasing population of prairie dogs.
There really are more and more of them every year. It seems they are as thick as fleas anymore as the old saying goes. We have several families who come during the year just to shoot this nasty little destructive varmint.
The dynamite shoot is a fun fundraiser for our local fire department. These folks need all the support they can get and a big shout-out for the volunteer work that they do in being on call and ready to roll at a moments notice besides all the training they do to keep certifications current.
Concessions will be available after 11:00 a.m. for your dining enjoyment. There will also be a rifle raffle (say that rapidly 10 times!). Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased from any fire department volunteer. You need not be present to win but you must be able to pass a Federal background test.
For more information call Kristl Johnson at 435-260-0861.
So come on out and join the fun. Everyone is welcome. The idea is (the ultimate redneckedness!) if you make the dynamite go kaboom, you win! Prizes are usually money. Of course this is a stiff competition as we have a lot of folks, male and female, old and young and everything in-between who want to show they are crack shots. As an added bonus the FS fire project is scheduled to be underway through next weekend so you can also see La Sal’s smoke and vapors upon the land.
As for me and my house, we just like to enjoy the kabooming from the comfort of our deck, which faces West La Sal and the smoke and flames to the north.