Thursday, April 14, 2011

A special opportunity for hikers: witnessing regrowth

An area of Smith Spring trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park following prescribed burn

If there is any silver lining in this week's events, it may be the opportunity for us all to learn more about the natural world, and how fire can work to stimulate growth and the reproduction of plants.  Hikers will have this opportunity in the coming weeks in Fort Davis, so we wanted to give this early report on places you'll be able to see that regrowth.  (And since fire deposits extra nitrogen in the soil, with one or two rains, you'll see a vivid contrast between the unburned portions and the regrowth, which will be green, green, green very soon!)

The community of Fort Davis is working hard to get ready for visitors, as so much of what folks love about it remains unscathed.  As we've mentioned before, the Fort, Observatory, charming downtown and lovely hotels (including the Indian Lodge) and B&Bs remain untouched.  Most places are open NOW, and more will be open soon and ready for your visit.

We wanted to give you an early assessment of the status of places you'll be able to witness the regrowth for yourself....please know this is an EARLY report, and as time goes on there will be better information...

Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
Cathryn Hoyt, Executive Director of the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, "I just wanted to let you know that as of today (Wednesday) the CDRI is open for business. Our main visitor attractions remain beautiful and green while the blackened grasslands offer a perfect "teaching moment."  The view of the burned areas from Clayton's Overlook and the new geology exhibit is amazing. The scale of the burn is something that has to be seen to be believed."

Scenic Loop

Almost ALL of the land around the Scenic Loop remains unburned.  The area around the intersection of Hwy 17 and Hwy 166 was burned, and in the coming weeks should offer an interesting view of regrowth.  John Morlock, of Fort Davis National Historic Site reports from the Scenic Loop, "it is possible to see burned areas in Limpia Canyon, near Fort Davis and burned areas in the Davis Mountains State Park.  I do not believe any other burned areas are visible from the Scenic Loop, unless from on top near McDonald's, looking off in the distance."

Fort Davis National Historic Site
The Fort and the majority of land around the fort buildings were unburned.  John Morlock, Superintendent of Fort Davis National Historic Site, reports some fire on trails around the fort itself, "We have an opportunity for fire education here at the fort on the Tallgrass and Hospital Canyon Trails."

Davis Mountains State Park

For a good reason, it will take just a little longer for the Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge to open, according to Linda Hedges of TPWD:  "Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge are not taking reservations until May 1 and have cancelled all existing reservations through that date.  Will probably be open before then, but as of now the park is a major staging area for the remaining fire crews and it's not yet known when they will be pulling out.  In the meantime, the park is closed to all visitation.  DPS and Border Patrol are stationed at the gate and not letting the public through.  Several folks have wanted to access Skyline Drive for a vista of the burned area but that's not possible just yet."

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