Thursday, June 16, 2011

Valuable Websites on Fire and Drought

Amy Stirrup brought this website to my attention: It has more complete information on the three raging Arizona wildfires than can be found on inciweb. The Monument Fire, in particular, has been frustratingly difficult to learn about.

Another very interesting website monitors drought across the US: As you can see, southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, a big swath of Texas, and a few other regions are in the grip of exceptional drought, beyond even the "extreme" category. (Thanks to Gary Rosenberg for sending the link to this website.)

Here is an image for June 14 from the National Drought Mitigation website:

Our current extremity is also caused by the exceptional deep freeze of last winter, which killed or damaged many plants, leaving the landscape so dry (in conjunction with the drought) that fire crews on the Horseshoe Two Fire have found 1000-hour fuel that dried out enough to burn in less than 1 hour, a situation never before encountered.

No-o-o-o, environmentalists aren't responsible for these fires or their severity, contrary to some of the rants being broadcast by people with an agenda. No group of humans is yet capable of inflicting freeze and drought on the land! But 100 years of fire suppression over large areas is a likely factor. Agencies like the US Forest Service have been attempting in recent years to reintroduce fire to fire-adapted landscapes through prescribed burning, at times when a low- to moderate-intensity burn can be achieved, but we are still way behind the game.


  1. Thanks for sharing this info, Narca. The USFS has done extensive fuel management in the Huachucas over the last few years (especially Ramsey and Miller canyons). If it moderated the fire's intensity in those areas, maybe it will encourage broader application of those techniques. As you say, though, we're way behind the game.

  2. Thanks for the link to the drought monitoring map. This morning we watched the aerial displays of Ohio's first documented Cassin's Sparrow in Shelby County, OH. Have the Texas and southern great plains droughts driven this bird wandering to Ohio?

    We are Ohioans who love the Chiricahuas and who have mourned the losses from the fires there. Thanks for your stories.

  3. Helen, we are seeing displacement of species here in the Chiricahuas--sometimes just local displacements like a very large number of Black-throated Sparrows coming to our feeders, at a time when we would normally just have 2 or 3 pairs. I've also heard knowledgeable friends speculate that the fairly large number of Mexican and eastern vagrants (even just central-to-east Texas) showing up this late spring and early summer could be birds displaced by drought or fires to the south in Mexico.

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