Hello MANO friends and readers! For this month’s blog post I’d like to tell you all about the field work I did this month on the trails of the Pecos Wilderness.
Wilderness area is a special designation for public land to be keep “wild” and undeveloped, protected by the Wilderness Act of 1964. This means no mechanized or motorized uses, no roads or structures, and no commercial activities. A lot of recreation is still permissible on wilderness land though, included hiking and camping which I got to spend a few days doing in order to scout out an old Forest Service trail.
In 2013 the Jaroso fire burned 9,529 acres in northern New Mexico, including over a section of trail #259, Dockweiler. This left a considerable number of dead standing trees (snags) as well as downed logs like can be seen in the photos here. It was truly amazing to walk around in a burn area for the first time, the black and white trunks making it seem almost winter-like and eerie. It became even more shocking after I was told this area had burned nearly 10 years ago, and still looked like this, with no living matter taller than waist-high. What was growing in the old burn area was thriving though, and I even got to eat a few currants on the way!
As you can also tell from the photo, there wasn’t much of a trail left to be found in this area. With the help of a GPS app and some flagging tape, we were able to mark some of the original path of trail #259 so that a wilderness trail crew coming in next week would be able to follow the original path when cutting through the logs. Keeping aligned the goals of conservation and recreation in a wilderness area, the trail crews saw through the logs with hand tools, no motors or mechanized tools, to allow people to enjoy the trail with minimal disturbance.
It was an excursion that taught me a lot about how wilderness is managed and enjoyed, as well as how to backpack and hike safely for days at a time, miles from any road or structure. Thank you to Sarah Smith and the Pecos Ranger District for allowing me to help on this trail, and I hope to write more in the future about how I have supported forest use, enjoyment, and protection through the rest of my resource assistantship.
If you’d like to know more about wilderness areas and fire data, check out the links below that I referenced in writing this blog: