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Hidalgo County Herald
Lordsburg, New Mexico
September 16, 2011     Hidalgo County Herald
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September 16, 2011

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6 HIDALGO COUNTY HERALD FRIDAY. SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 00nake's Run held over Labor my Weekend +." i',,, ' '2 There were 47 particpants in.the annual event, which was sponsored in part by the City of Lordsburg. 1st Place, Mens Run--Matt Aguilera 2nd Place, Mens Run-- Anthony Stringi 1st Place, Women's Run--Rachelle Gomez 2nd Place, Women's Run-- Lisa Rodriguez 1st Place, Mens Walk-- Mikey Ramirez 2nd Place, Mens Walk--Chile Jacquez 2nd Place, Women's Walk--Jennifer Barela l'iLa kY I n Oll I Would like to thank my children, my friends and family who attended my ----D.blrthdav party. Special thanks to Corny & :j-"O i' Carmen Gandara and Chile & Delia fl)r "--' helping. Everything is greatly appreciated from the bottom of my heart. -3 Thank you, (  Nieves Barrio Wildfire Investigation... 'Put Out?' (Part 2, of 3) By DAWN NEWMAN/Rodeo Investigations of the Horse- shoel & 2 wildfires that swept through the Chiricahua this past spring and the year be- fore, were all but 'put out' this past week as Albuquerque lavJ enforcement and fire investi- gators said they officially 'closed' their files. Now, it will be up to residents and persis- tent journalists to look at the official findings:..through your local legislator, or the Freedom of Information Act, where ever that may lead. It was in 2010, (as Horse- shoel broke out in the Southwest Range), that people began to talk about 'active drug smuggling routes,' they listened to radio chat- ter and later, began to fret as roughly 3,000 acres went up that season. But, it wasn't until May 8 th, 2011, that the'loose chatter turned into some serious despera- tion as residents evacuated from canyons, wildlife fled for survival, and U.S. Forest Rangers and fire crews responded 'as best they could.' That was a nasty fire as most recall -- black smoke and destruc- tive winds for more than 40 days, before it was finally contained, controlled, and eventually 'put out.' Like the year before, this one was  dubbed 'human caused,' said officials of initial assessment: Not many storms or lighting that time of year. So, again, in 201 I, it was time for investigation and findings to emerge. In other words, wharfs be- hind those wild- fires and how dc we prevent them from happening again? But the pat- terns of wildfire activity in this unforgivin stretch of moun- tain range began to consume the land much earlier for residents (in 2006, and subsequent years). Remember, Burrow Spring, South Fork, Cave Creek, Rucker Can- yon, Turkey Creek and Jack wood and of course, those god-awful trails worn dry by relentless smug- glers? Both seasonal residents and experienced officials saw the scattered back-packs, cigarettes, tossed clothes all tO make hodge- podge camp sites comfy stop- overs for criminals who needed some down time. Like most activity, this was a human caused incident - and this year brought on 'a hell of a fight' by U.S. Forest Service and crews to get the thing out. According to Bill Edwards, District Manager, U.S. Forest Service, Douglas, this fire raged for roughly 45 days -- scorching about 223,000 acres of protected species and land. Be- yond their massive fire-lines and back-stops, it also con samed homes that were anywhere near its path. While Edwards is still optimistic and convinced that this growth will mostly come back on its own, he admits to the blow of agency goals when it comes to forest preservation. "On the ground assessments, indicate that both fires were hu- man-caused, said Edwards of the two cases. "At present, we don't have all the findings, but the fires appear to have ocurred on or near known drug smuggling trails -- We just can't make a conclusion on any of those findings" Edwards points to the as- signed fire and investigatory ,.CAVE CREEK STATE ] C;| a2tl Caused Caused Acreage .......... _r ..... Acres .Fire ..... Burned AZt67, 756,918 I 135 __________ N--. IL [ 7--i: ---- 572--6-28 ..... 63 ..... 58,644 ':i-(5:i:i: ...... i3i i ............... -.-').-34/; -+ d4: ............. 3-7 .... ..... ?'_Y .Li00 ...................................... team (in Albuquerque) who re- views all the details and views each scene to define the point of ignition - but, they have just.not gotten to the bottom of it to date. In the meantime, residents report . that large post-gates are being erected at entry points leading into well-known sites and activ- ity points, apparently to limit. routine access to wilderness hik- ers and campers. While officials who study the 'patterns of destruction' have not yet released their findings most will agree that activity was based in both rugged and other- wise, perilous camping locations. "Nowmost folks would not tackle this type of terrain for mere bird watching or to enjoy a typical family weekend," said Louis Pope, a 35 year-veteran of fire crew operations and raging fires. "The routes going into these areas already have posted signs; Taken from the Wildfire Summary/SW Coordination Ctr,, University of Ariz., 6-14-2011 ':i;(1)"iXi: "-[:i:fM : ........ __.ACRES: +'++i 7811 1631.272 T43i--I 1.388,325 'Warning citizens about smug- glers and such,' says Pope, a long- time advocate for a common- Sense approach to forest and re- source management. In fact, the terrain would put any top-notch athlete to the absolute test in terms of accessing these locations. Unfortunately, "These wild- fires have been allowed to devas- tate the overgrown forests...and the l;orests have been over- crowded too long," says Pope of one-time timber harvesting strat- egies. "We need to ensure that there is local accountability for the forests, for the actions taken in fighting these fires and the 'tac- tics used to suppress them. Resi- dent Jeff Gee is likewise con- cerned about the outcome. Gee who has lived in Portal, Az,, in the heart of the Chiricahua since 1989, says 'that the number and scope of fires has grown over the years. "Neighbors here have seen what's left behind on these routes - We know .there's been activity 'in these places and the chance of 'touching off' a wild- fire by people who are moving through the area, and walking away from a make shift camp fire is not only dangerous, but cata- strophic for residents, wildlife and forest lands. Geeadds, "We just don't have enough 'on the ground' monitoring or security here, so we can only hope that agencies will start to 'get this right' when it comes to protection for the com- munity." The upside, explains Edwards, (a veteran of Coronado Nat'l Forest operations) was the fire crews" ability to mod- erate the Horseshoe fire. "We do plan to work on some re- habilitation there - dropping seeds from aircraft, getting biomass on the ground and letting 'mother nature' do her work. As a spokesman for the district, Edwards believes there is the simple need to get back to public education and raise more awareness. Edwards explains that they evaluate the area and situa- tion each year, and monitor the terrain as best we can. There are also two remaining fire tower sites with look-out ability --. Montevista and SugarLoaf. "Sometimes rangers or officers will find cigarettes, abandoned supplies or the remains of a scat- tered campfire," says Edwards, "unfortunately, completely clos- ing off the National site to the public is a last resort, so we try to put restrictions on camp fires or open fires in the drier season." Still the fires consume, scgrching much of the Chiricahua range (in Arizona and beyond) into smoldering ground and blackened trees. Edwards says that weather is a huge factor - wildfires are tied to the seasonal patterns, the particular year, and how each season is different be- tween rain-fall versus wind pat- terns and with the dryness in place. While the Forest Service still oversees a few fire tow- ers (mostly during the day) to 'Spot fires' or even 'incidents' as they happen, Pope, (an experi- enced fire-fighting veteran) says it's a far cry from the 1960's and '70's when this area had a com- prehensive network of fire tow- ers manned with anywhere from two, four to six staff (often col- lege students .on school break) who would live in remote, fairly harsh conditions to watch for out- breaks and listen, to 'Radio Calls.' According to Pope, it was a different time, with an active and efficient systerfi in place for I0th recognizing and alerting smoke- related activity to local law en- forcement and fire teams who could get help there quickly, and as needed. "There was a time, not that long ago, when fire spotters lived at theii" post or fire site 24- 7. They really looked at their job as a mission -- their job was a safeguard for the community." "The community deserves a lot better fire protection and pre- vention than what's going on here - so what's the matter with pack- ing your lunch," says Pope of the changes in staff..The U.S. Forest Service used to earn 25% of their receipts for this service by allow- ing for grazing lands and another 2-5 % for timber sales. It's those kinds of partnerships with the ranchers and private industry that kept a lot of this wilderness land and residents safe - but it's only part of the solution." Next Week: The Findings.,. what the U.S. Forest Service and Investiga- tors have to say in their report. Thank you to everyone who supported Dr. Rv. Isaac Nsereko during his recent visit, including Susan Golightly, .Hoson Elert, Oarril Goodman, 5oucedo's Supermarket, Smith Ford and Flying J. Others who wished to meet him but were unable to due to con- strained me included Lordsburg Mayor Prank Rodrig.uez and Rev. Richard Dorsley (1st United Methodist Church). :1 would like to'extend my titude to everyone. t time; I a Congratulations Arturo "Dude" Gonzalez When you went to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, to attend job- related meetings, your presentation was a hit. The people there were congratulating you for the great job that you are doing in your office in Pahrump, NV. Keep up the good work, Dude. We're proud of you! MAVERICK FOOTBALL FUND Hamburgers with Cheese& -- / ") AlltheFixins$5j) Salad & Soda Friday, September 16, 2011 Maverick Stadium 5:00 PM to Just Before Kick-Off Zuni Vs. Lordsburg Game