GVM area fire history updates

Jim Erdman forwarded an email exchange he had with Laurie Huckaby (USFS specialist in the fire history of this region — her passion, tree rings)
On 11/02/2009 Laurie wrote: “The last widespread fire in the Kelly Flats area was actually in the fall of 1871….I pick up the 1871 fire date in Young’s Gulch as well. There was a more localized event in 1880, a date that shows up at Gateway Park, too. The important thing to note about the historical fire regime is that although you could say there was a fire in any given location every 30 to 60 years, many of those fires were very localized, and fire frequency and intensity were not consistent through time. The late 1700s-early 1800s were a cold, wet period with reduced fire frequency; the mid-1800s were warm and dry, with more frequent fire that coincided with the settlement of this area. Direct fire suppression was not all that effective in your area [GVM] until the 1940s and 1950s, but heavy grazing in the late 1800s-early 1900s effectively stopped fire spread during that period. As for the oldest ponderosa pines, there are several living ones that date into the 1300s not too far from you. There is one on the Shambala Mountain Center property (near Red Feather Lakes)  that dates to 1321, and one on the north rim at Pingree Hill that dates to 1336. Go to Peter Brown’s OLDLIST website  to see a list of old trees submitted by tree-ring scientists. I finally got a chance to cut that stump John [Popp] and I collected. It is a Rocky Mountain Juniper! I didn’t expect that. It has no fire scars but lots of rings. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to date it in the next couple of weeks. I’ll let you know when I do.”

11/2/2009 Part of Jim Erdman’s email response: “…Dating that juniper in what you’d called “a pretty interesting place” — the Mount Peale green belt — may help with that charred ponderosa stump nearby. I cored a close-by, very young ponderosa established since the burn, and you dated the pith at only 1930! The site by Iron Mountain Drive lies in a very mesic spot where I’m sure snow accumulates.”

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