Friday, February 14, 2014

Update from Guadalupe Mountains National Park on Flooding Recovery

Guadalupe Mountains National Park issued this news release last night:

(Pine Springs, TX) Park staff continues to make great progress in stabilizing and making emergency repairs to damage from September’s storm and flash floods. The park has re-opened the Bear Canyon and El Capitan Trails and the Shumard Canyon Backcountry Campground. With the exception of Williams Road, which leads from Dell City to the Salt Basin Dunes, and the Salt Basin Dunes Day Use Area, all park roads, trails and facilities are now open. Park trail crews continue to work on Williams Road, much of which remains under Linda Lake, and once they are able to reach it again, will continue work on the Salt Basin Dunes Day Use Area and Salt Basin Dunes Trail.

The park released the 10 members of the elite Mexican firefighting crew, Los Diablos, which has enjoyed a strong relationship with the National Park Service for more than 20 years, as well as local Administratively Determined temporary trail crew members hired to supplement Guadalupe Mountains National Park trail crews in the aftermath of September’s historic storms. Agencies frequently use the Administratively Determined (AD) authority to quickly hire staff, who are not agency employees, but have training, skills and experience necessary to respond to immediate emergencies such as fires or flooding, as well as immediate stabilization efforts in the aftermath of those emergencies.

Much of the park sustained rain and flood damage during September’s storms and flash floods, and most trails sustained heavy damage, with many areas being washed out or covered with debris. The National Weather Service reported that the Bowl recorded 12.41 inches of rain during a 24 hour period from September 11-12, while Dog Canyon recorded 9.50 inches, McKittrick Canyon recorded 7.32 inches and the Pinery recorded 5.12 inches. The Texas Tech University West Texas Mesonet (<>) weather station, located near the park’s fire cache, registered 15.73 inches of rain between September 9 and 14, including 13.50 inches during a 24 hour period on September 12-13.

The Salt Basin Dunes remain closed from September’s storms and flash flooding, as a portion of Williams Road to the Salt Basin Dunes remains under water as Linda Lake slowly recedes. Hikers and backpackers should continue to exercise extreme caution, and all visitors are asked not to enter closed areas, for their own safety.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Superintendent Dennis A. Vsquez stated that “We are grateful to our Maintenance Crew and everyone who has helped us stabilize and make emergency repairs to park trails, roads and facilities so we could re-open the park and get back to serving our visitors. This storm was historic, and we are pleased to have it behind us. Park staff has worked very hard to stabilize trails, and ensure that they are safe and passable. We continue to work hard to open the Salt Basin Dunes area as quickly as possible. We welcome everyone back to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and are looking forward to a busy and pleasant Spring.”

Park information, including park conditions, closures or restrictions, weather, as well as for interpretive program and other information, may be found on the park’s website (<>), on the park’s Facebook page (<>), or by contacting the Pine Springs Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124. Motorists traveling past the park along Texas Highway 62/180 may tune in to the park’s Traveller Information System radio broadcast at 1560 AM for up-to-date park information.

The Pine Springs Visitor Center is open daily (except for Christmas) from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM. The McKittrick Canyon, Frijole Ranch House, Dog Canyon and Salt Basin Dunes (Dell City, TX) Visitor Contact Stations are open intermittently. Please call the Pine Springs Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124 to find out whether they are open. For Dog Canyon, call the Dog Canyon Visitor Contact Station/Ranger Station at (575) 981-2418. For the latest weather information for Guadalupe Mountains National Park, see <> or <>. For the latest road information, call 511, or visit <> for Texas or <> for New Mexico.

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