Forest Fire

On Monday a few Bosque volunteers noticed a large fire on the north side of the land as they were returning from town.  They alerted Brian and ran to get shovels, and volunteers, visitors, and friends all joined to help us put out the fire.  Within a couple of hours the fire was controlled, and in about 3 hours rains rolled in and we stopped the constant monitoring.  Yesterday volunteers spent the morning putting out all remaining smoldering areas.

During the dry season the fire risk is incredibly high.  One of the reasons we’re so uptight about our no-smoking rule is that a single cigarette butt could actually burn the entire Bosque down.  We are unsure how this fire started, but we are very fortunate that we caught it when we did.  We’re also fortunate that the rains are here; a few weeks ago this fire would have been much more dangerous.

The last forest fire at the Bosque was in 2007.  Brian wrote about the experience on his own blog, and we’ve reposted it here.  In 2008 and 2009 we didn’t have any fires, though we did notice several small fires nearby.

One of the reasons we’re at high risk for forest fires is that, unlike our neighbors, we don’t have a manicured forest.  People tend to pick up all the dead wood and brush and burn it.  We don’t do this because we are trying to heal the soil and increase the level of mushrooms, animal, and plant life.  However, we have also created a huge network of trails and are beginning to widen them.  Trails serve as fire breaks, making it difficult for the fire to spread quickly.  The trails around where the fire was helped slow its spread significantly.

The trees will all live, and very few important plants were in the area of the fire.  We are sad to have lost one snag - a dead tree that housed several birds.  The burned, ash covered land will be excellent for planting.  When we began burning plagued tree branches to fight the pine beetle plague, Chilino started to plant lettuce, radishes, beans, and herbs in the ashy soil.  Because of this and a few freak rainstorms during the dry winter months, we enjoyed organic salads throughout the dry season.  We will plant vegetables in the ashy soil soon, and anticipate high yields from this part of the land.

Thanks to all who helped us fight the fire!

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