Redington Road had been closed since the start of July due to the Burro Fire – on the first day that it re-opened I drove out along the fire perimeter and hiked to the top of Piety Hill. The Burro Fire was stopped west of Piety Hill and in the sunset light it was hard tell where the Burro Fire burned – I am sure that there are areas that were heavily impacted by the fire but from Piety Hill I can still see green trees and grass below.
Piety Hill is located on Pima County’s A7 Ranch – at 4,714′ it is not stunning high (‘Hill’ is the right name) – but it is high enough to overlook the San Pedro Valley and offer great views of the surrounding terrain! There is no official trail to the top, but the terrain, while steep, is reasonably open and it is not hard to find a way to the top.
In Oracle on an errand I hiked from the Lower Oracle Ridge Trailhead on the Oracle Ridge Trail – it was a hot day and I didn’t have time to go very far, but it didn’t matter – it was just great to spend a few minutes on the trail.
There is an interesting Coronado National Forest sign on the Cody Loop Road – the sign, on a small road in Oracle, and information, about a project from the late 1960s, seem, at best, obscure – but old newspaper articles quickly fill in the gaps – from the Tucson Daily Citizen, Friday, January 12, 1968, Page 13:
The second “cents-for-seeds” marker, sponsored by the Arizona Federation of Women’s Clubs (AFWC) and the Arizona Federation of Junior Women’s Clubs (AFJWC), will be unveiled and dedicated Wednesday at 2 p.m. The ceremony will take place near Camp Sue, Arizona Children’s Colony Lodge, Oracle. The day’s program will begin at 11 a.m. and Clyde W. Doran, forest supervisor, Coronado National Forest, will be master of ceremonies. Mrs. E. M. Bredwell, president of the AFWC, will talk on the “cents-for-seeds” project. Mrs. James R. Higgs, president of the AFJWC, will speak on the conservation activities of the AFJWC. Luncheon will be served by the Arizona-New Mexico Forest Products Industries Committee. Members of the Oracle Woman’s Club will be luncheon hostesses. The combined membership of these two statewide organizations is over 6,000. [?]11 member clubs support the “cents-for-seeds” project, which involves collecting funds for the reseeding of Arizona National Forests damaged by fires. Markers are erected to remind the traveling public of its responsibility to protect the land.
And more information about the fire from The Arizona Republic, Wednesday, January 17, 1968, Page 9:
The U.S. Forest Service will erect a large redwood sign commemorating the reseeding of the burn, which blackened more than 1,450 acres of grass and scrub oak near Oracle last May 20. The fire, which cost $80,000 to suppress, was started by children. It burned for two days and at one time threatened Oracle. No buildings were destroyed although the flames came as close as a quarter-mile to some Oracle homes.
Balloons floating up into the sky can seem beautiful and symbolic – but after picking up balloons from an astounding number of places in the mountains – including many off-trail destinations with no sign of people/trash for miles – I cringe when I see a piece of floating trash ascending into the sky… For more sad pictures of balloons and a bit more information see Balloons in the Backcountry.
Saturday, February 20, 2016 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Chuck Bowden Mt. Lemmon Community Center, 12949 N. Sabino Canyon Parkway., Mt. Lemmon, AZ
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Oracle Fire Department, 1475 W. American Ave., Oracle, AZ
Thursday, February 25 – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Morris K. Udall Regional Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Rd., Tucson, AZ
The press release from the Forest Service provides this quick summary of the project – “The CRFS is a landscape-scale restoration project that focuses on promoting resilient ecosystems; protecting life, property, and natural resources; and encouraging natural wildland fire to function as a healthy process in the ecosystem” – and the Scoping Notice provides background including:
The fire history recorded by tree rings indicates that, since the beginning of the early 20th century, the frequency of natural fire has decreased dramatically. Tree-ring research has shown that for many centuries, the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountains shared broadly similar fire regimes and ecosystem properties. However, since the early 20th century, natural fire regimes have been significantly altered because of grazing (which removes the fine fuels that carry surface fire) and continued fire suppression.
Ewe #39540 died in the first part of February – “she had suffered a severe injury to her left front leg in addition to a superficial wound on her chest, both injuries likely sustained in a fall” – samples have been sent for disease testing.
Test results from Ewe #39554 who died in December indicate that she did not have pneumonia and that injuries sustained in a fall were the likely cause of death.
Coronado National Forest waives fees in honor of Presidents Day – Coronado National Forest: Coronado National Forest will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites Monday, February 15, in honor of Presidents Day – Fees are waived generally for day-use areas, such as picnic grounds, developed trailheads and destination visitor centers!
Recreation projects completed on Mt. Lemmon – Coronado National Forest: A recent press release from the Coronado National forest notes several recently complete projects include 22 new interpretive signs along/near the highway and new restrooms at the Cypress Picnic Area and Showers Point Campground.
“Shriveled latex in rainbow colors is ubiquitous in the Rincon and Tucson mountains sections of Saguaro National Park, where the air-filled orbs often land due to local wind patterns, Zylstra found.”
“To Zylstra’s amazement, balloons greatly outnumbered desert tortoises and Western diamondback rattlesnakes in the 120 square kilometers – roughly 75 miles – of parkland she studied to collect the data.”
“In the Rincons, for example, a square kilometer of land had an estimated density of 62 balloons, 30 tortoises, 26 rattlers and 29 plastic bags, which Zylstra also counted.”
A picture from 2009, off-trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains, I took the picture above and wrote “I have found a number of balloons in quite remote places on my hikes – they seem so harmless, maybe even beautiful sometimes, floating up into the sky, but after seeing litter like this too many times they don’t seem so harmless anymore.”
And in 2011…
This is not an unknown problem – thankfully in some places mass releases of balloons are actually prohibited (the Balloons Blow… Don’t Let Them Go! has a page on Balloon Laws) – but not here in Tucson – the littering continues…