4/12/2012 Jim E sent this information along with photos, thanks Jim! “Yesterday I happened to be walking along a game trail here in Glacier View Meadows and spotted a fairly newly wind-thrown ponderosa. As I’d seen easily accessible branch tips nibbled on along Haystack Rd sometime ago, and didn’t know what did it, this seemed to clinch deer as the cause. The roots are extremely shallow as shown here. The trunk leading off to the left. Here’s the top of the tree showing easily reached – by deer – relatively palatable needles and branch tips.” Jim observed about a dozen piles of deer scat around the tree suggesting that deer are the culprits. He has sent an email to Mark from the Division of Wildlife to ask about mule deer forage habits.
“Finally, this closeup showing a couple plants of wild candytuft (Noccaea [formerly Thlaspi] montana) growing through the pile, which must have been laid before the spring-bloom season. I’ve Olaus Murie’s 1958 classic, A Field Guide to Animal Tracks, that includes photos of droppings. They show the winter feeding(or dry diet), and the soft type that results from green or succulent food in summer. Maybe your folks can tell.”
7/24/2011 Last Tuesday I was treated to a tour of Renee Popp’s new pine cone exhibit. It is currently located on the CSU Campus, Yates Hall Lab Room 209 (directions). It took me a little time to find, but there were signs posted on the main door and in the building, so I knew I was on the right track. When I arrived there was a sign saying Renee was working in the CSU Herbarium with a number to call. She appeared in just a couple of minutes and welcomed me to her extensive exhibit. She has collected cones and needles from over half of the world’s pine species, displayed in interesting categories and with distribution maps. There are several examples from GVM, including an interesting witches’ broom in the diseases section. This is an amazing work in progress and to get more specimens, Renee will continue visiting arboreta and universities. She has also set up a Facebook Page so that other pine-lovers can donate cones and share information. If you want a nice escape from the heat, stop by Project Pine Cone on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10 am and 2 pm. During the summer you can park free at any of the Z parking lots at CSU.
7/7/2011 Email from Wynne: “I put pheromones on a 500 yr. old tree (one we looked at with Jim Erdman on walk ? 2 yrs. ago, who determined the age)—trunk curls around a big rock. ” Thanks Wynne!
More information from Jim E. about the old Ponderosa in the Haystack USFS Property:
“I looked at the core, one of two I’d taken from opposite sides of that tree 1/20/’09; both hit punk ~5 inches in. I labeled it ‘2nd Meadow Ponderosa.’ Laurie Huckaby did her usual keen followup dating from mine and got an inside ring date of 1737 into the heartwood – a mere 271 years on a tree with a 2 foot DBH (diameter breast height). The rings that spanned 1800-1900 were ~1 inch long on the core. So it could well be ~500 years old, among the oldest cohort ponderosas in this area – the 1500s, a favorable century for reproduction. During the last decade, the years 2002 & 2006 appear as micro-rings for that period, especially very little dark latewood.
* Every time I look at my cores that Laurie dated over the past couple years, I’m amazed at how her penciled writings and other notations can be so tiny! You’ve got to see the cores for yourselves. “
9/14/2010 From Ellen: I saw this article today from “Today @ Colorado State University” online newsletter. It also has interesting links from the Colorado State Forest Service at the end.
Dangerous conditions helped lead to wildfires currently raging in Front Range foothills.
As long as people continue to build in or near the mountains, fires will always be a threat.
Doug Rideout had a bad feeling Sept. 5 as he returned from a day trip in the Poudre Canyon.
“That weekend, the physical conditions were just perfect for a big fire,” said Rideout, a professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship. “As we were coming down the canyon I said to my wife that, if anything got started, the conditions were just perfect for a fire to go fast and big. I could visualize the hillsides and drainages going up – more so than at any time I can think of in the last 12 months.”
Ideal fire conditions
Those conditions – very low humidity, high temperatures, gusty winds, and plenty of dry grasses – are not uncommon in early September. And as it turned out, Rideout’s fears became reality some 50 miles to the south when fire erupted west of Boulder. Since that time, the Fourmile Canyon fire has burned more than 6,000 acres and destroyed 169 homes. More than a week after it ignited, the fire is not fully contained and many evacuated residents have not been cleared to return to their homes.
Sunday, with those conditions still in place, another fire – this one west of Loveland – sprung to life. The Reservoir Road fire already has claimed at least two homes and continues to burn out of control.
Sherri Lebeda, an administrative assistant in CSU’s Department of Communications and Creative Services, grew up in the Mountain Meadows subdivision, which was one of the areas threatened by the Fourmile Canyon fire. Her parents evacuated their home of 40 years and spent several days living in their RV.
“It was a really hard time (last week) because we knew my parents had been evacuated by we weren’t able to talk to them, so there were some really anxious moments,” said Lebeda, whose husband, Boyd, is a district forester in Fort Collins for the Colorado State Forest Service. “The devastation up there is just amazing. My parents are very fortunate to still have their home. I really feel for the people who have lost their homes; I can’t imagine what that’s like.”
Living in foothills brings risks
Lebeda’s father has been a member of the area’s volunteer fire department for four decades. His home was surrounded by ponderosa pines and grassy meadows – perfect fuel for a hungry fire. But living in Colorado’s foothills comes with built-in threats that most homeowners willingly accept. He and his wife also evacuated in 1989 when a fire threatened their home.
“Honestly, the people who live up there are willing to live with the risk because they enjoy it so much,” she said. “I loved growing up there; it’s a great place to live.”
As long as people continue to build in or near the mountains, fires will always be a threat. But homeowners need to be particularly vigilant when conditions are ripe for a fast-moving fire.
Colorado, California fires similar
The wet Colorado spring created excellent growing conditions for grasses and other fuels perfect for wildfires.
Rideout said it has been several years since he has seen conditions similar to those currently in place along the Front Range. He compared conditions to those in Southern California when Santa Ana winds combine with chaparral conditions (hot, dry, and plenty of fuel) to create the massive fires that threaten lives and homes in the foothills.
Those same conditions were in place for two of Colorado’s most famous recent events: the Buffalo Creek fire in 1996, and the Hayman fire in 2002. Both caused extensive damage and costs millions of dollars to fight.
“When we get into those kinds of conditions, we learn just how powerful that type of fire is and how fast it can move and cut people off from evacuation,” Rideout said. “It’s hard to explain and visualize unless you’ve been there and seen it. All I know is that (Labor Day) weekend I was thinking that getting out of the mountains was a really good idea. I could just feel it, that something bad was about to happen.”
Rideout said the wet Colorado spring created excellent growing conditions for grasses and other fuels perfect for wildfires. But while trees killed by the recent mountain beetle infestation can burn quickly, he doubts those trees played a large role in the recent fires.
“Everyone thinks that the pine beetle problems make conditions much worse, but typically that’s only for the first year or two after infestation,” he said. “At first, when the needles turn bright red, the trees can be quite flammable. A year or two later, they are far less susceptible to fire.”
Homeowners can prepare for fires
The best way for homeowners to protect themselves and their property is to remove as much of the natural fuel fires need to spread. All flammable materials should be cleared away from structures, including trees and ground fuels. Planting fire-retardant plants near structures can also create a measure of protection. Rideout said homeowners who don’t take such precautions are literally playing with fire.
“The (Fourmile Canyon) fire is a really good wakeup call for people living in that urban interface to take a hard look at what they can do to protect their property,” he said. “Even the best efforts are not always successful, but it helps an awful lot and it’s often very effective.
“It’s also a good wakeup call for all of us to realize how fast and dangerous these fires can be. It’s really time for people who haven’t prepared themselves to take action. It can be costly but it can also be very costly if you don’t.”
“Attached is a flyer announcing our National Public Lands Day event on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District in Red Feather Lakes, Colo. We are trying to get the word out to as many folks as we can. If you could forward this on to anyone who might be interested and/or hang the flyer where your folks could see it, we would greatly appreciate it.
Reghan Cloudman, Public Affairs Specialist
Canyon Lakes Ranger District
Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
& Pawnee National Grassland 970-295-6770”
3/28/2010 As I drove by the Gate 3 slash pile this morning at 10am, it was really smoking with only a few flames visible. The Glacier View fire trucks were just leaving and I waved to Mary Hench who was driving one of them. Snow cover and calm wind were ideal conditions for burning last season’s forest “thinnings.”
10/3/09 9am-noon: Thanks to the following Ecology Committee volunteers who helped with this project: Judd & Steve (organizers), Ellen, Harry, Jeff, Judy, Linda P., Odell, Susan and Wynne. This was both a fire mitigation demonstration (trees thinned to >10 feet between trees and branches up to 8 feet) and a forest recycling project (green slash used to make Andre Roy’s hand cleaner: Dirty Jobs).
The dense Ponderosa pines SE of Gate 8 were thinned using a chainsaw crew (Jeff, Judd, Odell and Steve). The rest of us hauled large branches to the open work area and then nipped off and sorted out smaller, green branches (dime to quarter diameter), the optimum size for Andre’s process. He and his wife Mary brought chippers to grind the branches and pine needles prior to loading into their truck. Andre said our selected branches were “perfect” raw materials for his process, with a good ratio or “green to brown.” In return for our efforts, Andre paid $100 to the Ecology Committee!
Judd suggested that tree trunks from the project could be used for future GVM “buck and rail” fencing projects. Any additional wood generated will be donated for fire wood to families in need in the Red Feather Lakes area. Unusable branches were taken to the slash pile. Full details are in previous post and click “read more” to see more photos. Continue reading Trees Thinned at Gate 8→
Meet at Gate 8, Saturday for Tree Thinning Project, 9-11am. 10/02/09 Update from Judd: Tree Trimming volunteers as of 9:00am Friday 1. Chain saw operators: Judd, Jeff, Odell and a GVM staff person
2. Transporters and sorters move trees to process area and then cut branches to shredder or slash pile truck
3. Branch cutters use long handled nippers to remove the branches: Judy
4. Shredders feed green branches into shredder: Harry and Susan
5. Anything: Ellen, Wynne, Jim Petrie
Steve and I will be marking trees at 1:00 today.
9/28/09 Email from Judd: “At our last Ecology Committee Meeting [9/16/2009] we decided to start a new initiative of tree thinning on GVM Greenbelts and common property. We further decided we should begin with the area around the Association Office, were we can demonstrate what a properly thinned forest should look like. We would have a demonstration forest to complement our demonstration garden. Continue reading GVM Tree Thinning Project→
9/7/2009 Jim E. led a nature walk in the Forest Service inholding at Haystack Dr with Andre, Ellen, Judy, Karen D., Mary, Warren & Wynne on a partly sunny September afternoon. We started with an overview by Jim’s truck with a poster that included a table entitled “The World’s Oldest Known Trees,” and displays of annual sunflower, valerian root, and fetid marigold. Jim passed around the valerian root (the plant is called edible valerian or tobacco root) for us to smell and he read about its medicinal uses.
Trees: Jim showed the trees that he identified for Laurie Huckaby and John Popp, of the U.S. Forest Service, as potentially very old trees from the 1500s. He pointed out these old trees may have survived due to protection by surrounding rocks.
10/16/09 Jim emailed additional information: “During the May 20th outing with Laurie Huckaby, the local USFS’s key researcher on the fire history of this northern region, she said the few old meadow trees belonged to that ~1500 A.D. cohort, a period of ample moisture. Indeed, she’d cored a large ponderosa in that cluster, untouched by beetles. The pith date: 1575, with her estimated real age of 1535. Yet she’s found 700-800 year-old ponderosas up in the Red Mountain area to the north. Roughly 200-year intervals occur between cohorts, established during off-year drought cycles. The oldest known ponderosa — 880-890 — was found in Utah. That, based on a table, ‘The World’s Oldest Known Trees’ in a USGS/USFS poster (no date), Colorado’s Ancient Trees.”
Mountain Pine beetle: We saw several pine beetle-infested trees that had been cut down within a cluster of infested trees. The wood was then stacked and wrapped in plastic by the U.S. Forest service.
Flowers: yarrow, blanket flower, gumweed, black-eyed susan, smooth white aster or Porter aster, valerian, yellow owl-clover, yellow sweet-clover, bottle gentian, tansy aster, golden aster,