speak about impacts of last summer's Las Conchas fire on
Bandelier National Monument, and present a slide show to
show us exactly what happened as a result, and what is being
done to bring the park back. He will also discuss the
Marijuana Garden eradication, the Bus Program, and plans for
All the major
watersheds within Bandelier were heavily impacted by the
fire including Frijoles Canyon, where the visitor center and
main visited archeological sites are located. Over 75% of
Frijoles Canyon lay within the fire's footprint, much of it
burned with high severity.
at Upper Crossing after the fire.
With much of
the vegetation removed and the ground vitrified in some
areas where the fire burned extremely hot, fear of flash
flooding in the park's canyons was a call to action.
On August 21st
the parks flooding fears were realized. Heavy rains in the
Jemez Mountains lead to widespread flooding in all of the
east facing canyons including Frijoles Canyon. Flood
protection put into place held and damage to the park's
newly renovated visitor center was light. Damage to other
park resources was more significant. The Falls Trail was one
of many trails impacted by the flooding. The impact for this
trail was catastrophic. A ledge that held the trail near
Lower Falls collapsed, leaving no access via Frijoles Canyon
to the Rio Grande.
after the flood.
by Sally King
For the peak
season of 2012 (April to October) decisions must be made as
to how the park can best serve the public. The threat of
severe flooding is not just a thing of the past. Even so as
time passes wildlife is starting to reoccupy areas of the
park recently impacted by fire. Some including turkey
vultures and coyotes are flourishing as their food sources
became more available. Others such as black bear may not
come back to the park for quite some time. Some like Jemez
Mountain salamanders and Goat Peak Pika may never be found
in the park again. Research is underway to chart the
progress of the recovery. Plants like oaks and lupines are
sprouting/blooming within the fires perimeter. At the park
we are seeing first hand that time heals all wounds. But we
wonder, in a place etched by fire when will the park be
affected by fire again.