Prescribed burn planned for next week on Rio Grande National Forest

FOX CREEK, Colo., June 19, 2017 – The San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Management Unit plans to conduct a prescribed burn during the week of June 26 on the Conejos Peak Ranger District in the Alamaditas area 15 miles southwest of La Jara. The purpose of this 500 acre burn is to improve deer and elk winter range and reduce natural fuels buildup.

Smoke may be visible from State Highway 17 during, and for several days following, the burning operations. Fire crews will continue to monitor the burn until it is completely extinguished.

Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information see:

For more information, contact the Conejos Peak District Ranger Office at 719-274-8971.

CREEDE, CO., (May 29, 2017):  Zeke Ward joined RWEACT as the Executive Director one year ago this week and is now transitioning into retirement.  “These folks have accomplished a lot of good after the West Fork Complex Fire,” says Mr. Ward.    
As a founding member of the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee, and involved in other City of Creede endeavors, Mr. Ward found his community work a perfect complement to RWEACT work.  Participating in a stakeholder group to bring Doppler radar to the San Luis Valley tops the list of items that Mr. Ward has been instrumental in, as well as assisting Hinsdale County and the Hill 71 communication site.  “It’s been great working with all these people.”
At a recent Board Meeting, RWEACT Chair Travis Smith thanked Zeke Ward for his “commitment to stewardship in the region.”   Administrative Assistant Kristine Borchers will work as Program Director as RWEACT moves into the busy summer season.   
RWEACT (Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team) -- together with the Rio Grande National Forest and funded through the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Department of Local Affairs, and the Office of Emergency Management – works to promote partnerships and actions that provide for public safety and resiliency of communities and watersheds of the Rio Grande Basin of Colorado. More organizational information can be found at

Most campgrounds and roads will be open on the Rio Grande National Forest this weekend
MONTE VISTA, Colo., May 23, 2017 – It’s shaping up to be a beautiful and busy Memorial Day weekend on your Rio Grande National Forest! Here are some things to consider before you head to the mountains.
All but two campgrounds and most of the roads managed by the Rio Grande National Forest will be open this Memorial Day weekend. The high elevation Trujillo Meadows and Tucker Ponds campgrounds will not be open due to the persistent snowpack.
Most of the forest roads and trails will be open, but at higher elevations, many will be impassable because of mud and snow. Visitors are advised not to attempt to drive through patches of snow or over muddy areas to avoid getting stuck and prevent damaging the roads and trails. Hikers should be aware that they may be able to hike over the top of snow in the morning, but warm daytime temperatures can soften the snow making it nearly impassable in the afternoon.
The low and mid-elevation lakes and reservoirs are ice free and the creeks and rivers are running high. Boaters and fishermen need to be extra diligent to stay safe and avoid an unwanted plunge into the bone-chilling water as hypothermia can set in within minutes.
Fire danger ranges from low to moderate and there are no fire restrictions on the Forest. Even with these favorable conditions, visitors should always completely extinguish their campfires and never leave a fire unattended. An errant spark or ember can still cause a wildland fire in last year’s dry grasses, especially in breezy conditions.
The folks who manage the Rio Grande National Forest hope you will get outside and have a fun and safe experience on your public lands this Memorial Day weekend.
To keep up with the latest road conditions, visit the Rio Grande National Forest website at or call the Forest’s Supervisor’s Office at 719-852-5941.

DEL NORTE, CO., (April 15, 2017):  Join us for an April 22nd celebration at the Rio Grande County Museum in Del Norte honoring the Summitville heritage site from 10 am to 4 pm.  This fun-filled day will include live music by Steve and Konnie Crawford (at 1:30 pm) and story-telling beginning at 2:00 pm with Floyd and Glen Getz, Gene Fuchs, and Bill Ellithorpe.  The new Summitville exhibit will also be on display before being relocated to the site.
In 2013, the West Fork Complex Fire burned in the Upper Rio Grande.   Economic Recovery funds from the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Local Affairs were awarded to Rio Grande County.  A post-disaster plan was developed.  One goal sought to increase heritage tourism sites in the region.  In Rio Grande County, the Summitville project was identified as the highest priority.  At 11,500 feet above sea level and located 25 miles south of Del Norte, gold was discovered in Wightman Creek on South Mountain in 1861; mining operations didn’t begin until ten years later.  By 1885, more than 250 individual claims were being actively mined.  For decades, operations were sporadic.  In 1984, Galactic Resources, Ltd. began large-scale open-pit operations.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Colorado became stewards Summitville in 1992.  Come learn more about the history of the site, and future plans for historic preservation and outdoor recreation.
The Bachelor Loop in Mineral County and the Ute Ulay in Hinsdale County also received funding.  This regional emphasis between the three counties increases opportunities for residents and visitors who have an interest in Colorado mining history and connects our geographical locations of historic mining operations.
Funders and partners in the Summitville project in addition to RWEACT and Rio Grande County include the Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), San Luis Valley Development Resources, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Interpretive Designs, and the Rio Grande County Museum.
RWEACT -- together with the Rio Grande National Forest and funded through the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Department of Local Affairs, and the Office of Emergency Management – works to promote partnerships and actions that provide for public safety and resiliency of communities and watersheds of the Rio Grande Basin of Colorado.
For more information on the event, please contact the Rio Grande County Museum.

Partners, volunteers integral to addressing maintenance backlog

GOLDEN, Colo., March 20, 2017 – The Rocky Mountain Region is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.
Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance contributes to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.
The Rocky Mountain Region manages more than 19,500 miles of trails enjoyed by millions of users each year.  In the Rocky Mountain Region, nearly 13,000 volunteers and partner groups contributed roughly 385,000 hours in maintenance and repair National Forest System trails last year. 
“Connecting and working with forest visitors, volunteers and partners is an integral part of forest and grassland stewardship,” said Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Brian Ferebee. “Public feedback will determine where volunteers, partners and other innovative programs could be used to accomplish focused trail work, increase trail access, and provide a safer and enjoyable trails experience.”
The Rocky Mountain Region has until April 15 to submit at least three regional proposals to National Headquarters. Those proposals will be weighed against proposal submitted by other Forest Service regions.
The trail maintenance effort is outlined in the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016 and aims to increase trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by 100% by the end of 2021.
The selected sites will be part of the initial focus that will include a mosaic of areas with known trail maintenance needs that include areas near urban and remote areas, such as wilderness, are of varying sizes and trail lengths, are motorized and non-motorized, and those that incorporate a varied combination of partner and volunteer approaches and solutions.
The Forest Service manages more than 158,000 miles of trail – the largest trail system in the nation – providing motorized and non-motorized trail access across 154 national forests and grasslands. These Forest Service trails are well-loved and highly used with more than 84 million trail visits annually, helping to support mostly rural economies.
The Forest Service receives widespread support from tens of thousands of volunteers and partners each year who, in 2015, contributed nearly 1.4 million hours – a value of about $31.6 million – in maintenance and repair of nearly 30,000 miles of trails.
However, limited funding compounded by the rising cost of wildfire operations, has resulted in less than 25 percent of Forest Service trails meeting all of the agency’s standards for safety, quality recreation and economic and environmental sustainability. The remaining trails meet standard to varying degrees.
To provide ideas and suggestions on potential priority areas and approaches for incorporating increased trail maintenance assistance from partners and volunteers, please visit, or contact your local Forest Service office, or Regional Trail Program Manager Scott Haas by April 7, 2017. 
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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