Piety Hill – 7/11/2017

Looking South from Piety Hill. July 2017.
Looking South from Piety Hill. July 2017.

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's shadow towards the San Pedro Valley. July 2017.
Piety Hill’s shadow towards the San Pedro Valley. July 2017.

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.

Looking up into the Santa Catalina Mountains from Piety Hill - Mount Bigelow on the left, Westfall Knob in the center. July 2017.
Looking up into the Santa Catalina Mountains from Piety Hill – Mount Bigelow on the left, Westfall Knob in the center. July 2017.
Balloon Trash on the slopes of Piety Hill. July 2017.
Balloon Trash on the slopes of Piety Hill. July 2017.

Race Track Tank – 10/27/2016

Sun and mud beside Race Track Tank - north of Redington Road. October 2016.
Sun and mud beside Race Track Tank – north of Redington Road. October 2016.

Dropping a friend at the Italian Spring Trailhead gave me an excuse to wander – I watched a Nothern Harrier make loops around White Tank and eventually made my way to Race Track Tank. The tank is holding plenty of water – but, as is too frequently the case in the Redington Area, while looking at the tank I came across a disappointing amount of trash…

Hopefully this will change over time – one group who has been actively helping is the Friends of Redington Pass who have already held several clean ups and is planning another one on Nov. 19th starting at 8am – the flyer is displayed below, see this page for more information and to RSVP for the event.

Race Track Tank. October 2016.
Race Track Tank. October 2016.
Shells... Trash near Race Track Tank. October 2016.
Shells… Trash near Race Track Tank. October 2016.
Friends of Redington Pass - Flyer for the November 19, 2016, Cleanup. October 2016.
Friends of Redington Pass – Flyer for the November 19, 2016, Cleanup. October 2016.
Race Track Tank - north of Redington Road, west of the Italian Spring Trailhead, south of the Bellota/Arizona Trail. October 2013.
Race Track Tank – north of Redington Road, west of the Italian Spring Trailhead, south of the Bellota/Arizona Trail. October 2013.

“CENTS FOR SEEDS” – 1968, Oracle – 6/3/2016

A humming bird perches in the shade near the Lower Oracle Ridge Trailhead. June 2016.
A hummingbird perches in the shade near the Lower Oracle Ridge Trailhead. June 2016.

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.

Cents for Seeds sign at FR4454. June 2016.
“CENTS FOR SEEDS” sign at FR4454. June 2016.

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 - now trash - near the Arizona Trail outside of Oracle. June 2016.
Balloons – now trash – near the Arizona Trail outside of Oracle. June 2016.

More balloon trash – Balloons in the Backcountry

Balloon, Vandalism, Firescape, Bighorn – 2/14/2016

Balloon - trash on a hillside above La Milagrosa Canyon - there was a 2nd balloon below... February 2016.
Balloon – trash on a hillside above La Milagrosa Canyon – there was a 2nd balloon below… February 2016.

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.

In January a boulder with a petroglyph was pushed over and some surrounding vegetation was damaged in Catalina State Park – if you have any information please contact the Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office at (520) 388-8300. It is sad anyone would vandalize a site like this – January was not a great month in regards to vandalism with an incident also reported in Saguaro National Park. Vandalism at Catalina State Park – Coronado National Forest, Catalina State Park vandalism under investigation – Arizona Daily Star, Native American petroglyph vandalized at Catalina State Park – TucsonSentinel.com, Vandals strike Catalina State Park – Tucson News Now.

The comment period for the Catalina-Rincon FireScape Project  is open and the Forest Service is holding several open houses about this project:

  • 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.

The latest Santa Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project update was recently released:

  • As of 2/10 the total number of lambs confirmed by visual observation is now 13! The Friends of Catalina Bighorn Sheep Facebook page has links to recent video/pictures.
  • 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.

Rescues/Accidents/Incidents including information from the SARCI Newsletter:

  • Finger Rock Trail 1/16/2016 – Hikers descending from Mount Kimball ran out of daylight on the way down the Finger Rock Trail, ended up at Linda Vista Saddle and couldn’t find the way down.
  • Alamo Canyon 1/18/2016 – Hikers returning from Romero Pools ended up in on the slopes of Alamo Canyon.
  • Blackett’s Ridge 1/20/2016 – A fall results in ankle, knee and face injuries – injured hiker was flown out by helicopter.

 

Death, Collars, Training, Trash – 1/18/2016

The latest Santa Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project update was recently released and includes information about 3 new mortalities:

  • Ewe #39553 – killed by a mountain lion northeast of Biosphere 2 – in some previous mountain lion deaths there has been an attempt to kill the responsible lion, but in this case the “predation event occurred outside of the project’s designated area for administrative mountain lion removals, so no attempt was made to locate the lion responsible for the kill.”
  • Ewe #39551 – cause unknown but predation was ruled out, it does not appear there will be further investigation of this death.
  • Ewe #39543 – killed by mountain lions – the lions were pursued but the “efforts were unsuccessful”.

As predicted in the last update the collars from sheep released in 2013 have begun to drop off and now only 2 sheep from 2013 remain collared – this reduces the number of collard sheep by 9 and contributes to the drop in collared sheep known to be alive – 57 in the last report, 45 in this report.

Also included in the report is a picture from Brett Blum of the first lamb observed in 2016!

Enjoying cloudy weather on the Nature Trail in Catalina State Park. January 2016.
Enjoying cloudy weather on the Nature Trail in Catalina State Park. January 2016.

First responders conduct winter training on Mt. Lemmon, TucsonNewsNow – SARA took advantage of the winter conditions in the Santa Catalina Mountains and held a winter skills training drill.

Mount Lemmon being trashed by visitors, KVOA.com – The snow on the mountain always bring an impressive number of visitors to the mountain and that always results in more trash on the mountain. This article points out that Pima County does not collect trash in Summerhaven and that residents and business owners end up picking up quite a bit of trash left behind by visitors – be sure to properly dispose of all trash and help keep the mountain clean!