Tag Archives: Saguache County news

Decker Wildfire Update

According to officials from the US Forest Service, the Decker Fire was very active on Saturday, specifically on the southwestern flank as the fire moved south of Merkt Creek towards the Oxcart Fire burn scar. There was activity in the upper Bear Creek drainage along the top of the ridge as well. In both locations, the fire moved through heavy dead and down fuels and was spurred by low humidity, warmer temperatures, and consistent winds. The fire remains on national forest lands and primarily in the Wilderness.

Heavy fuels saw the Decker Wildfire send plumes of smoke into the skies on Saturday. Photo: USFS

On the west side of the fire, the Platte Canyon Wildland Fire Module continues to check the fire’s spread onto non-forest lands on the west side of the ridge and tied the fire into natural barriers within the Wilderness. They remain spike camped on the northwest side of the fire to monitor behavior.

The east side of the fire was also active yesterday afternoon, as the fire moved into heavy dead and down beetle-killed fuels. The fire did not make any significant runs towards the east and remains totally in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area. Crews will continue monitoring the east side of the fire and allowing fire to play its natural role in Wilderness to promote forest health and resiliency. A crew (MOD2) completed work to clear fuels from around the communications site on Methodist Mountain. Crews also placed repeaters and a remote weather station on Saturday. A Type 3 helicopter from Helena, Montana remains assigned to the incident and remains available, should the need arise.

The fire is expected to continue flanking south towards the Oxcart Fire scar today as well as slowly working north along the ridge towards the peak of Methodist Mountain.

Interactive Map Includes a Close-up of Area.

The fire is visible at night and will be visible from both the US 50 and US 285 corridors. Motorists are asked to not stop in the roadway and to safely get off the roadway to observe the fire. Please do not call 911 to report fire behavior on the Decker Fire or to request fire information. A fire information line (number below) is available for fire updates. Please call 911 for emergencies only.

Weather & Fuel Conditions: Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 60s and minimum humidity will be from 17-22%. Winds are forecast to be 8 mph out of the southwest, with intermittent gusts of up to 20 mph. With low humidity, warmer temperatures, and consistent winds, it is possible that fire behavior and smoke production will be active today, similar to yesterday. A low pressure system will develop over southern Colorado this afternoon. The low pressure system will bring isolated thunderstorm chances over the Decker Fire Sunday afternoon.

Evacuations and Closures: There are no evacuations or closures at this time. Smoke may settle into the US Highway 50 corridor in the late afternoons or evenings. Drivers are encouraged to reduce speed near the fire if smoke affects visibility.

Smoke: On Saturday, the Air Resource Advisor moved the Salida smoke monitor to the Bear Creek area. The other sensor remains in Coaldale. Real-time smoke information for both sensors is available at bit.ly/deckerfiresmoke. A smoke forecast has been issued for the Salida and Arkansas River Valley. That forecast can be found at https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/CentralColorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s smoke outlook can be found at https://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_smoke.aspx.

Decker Fire Statistics:
Size: Approximately 355 acres as of 2 p.m. Saturday
Containment: 0%
Total Personnel: 47
Cause: Lightning
Start Date: September 8, 2019
Location: 9 miles south of Salida, CO

Contact Information:
Facebook: facebook.com/DeckerFire2019
Fire Info Line: (719) 626-1095 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
Email: 2019.Decker@firenet.gov
Twitter: #DeckerFire2019

CPW May Limit Elk Licenses

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a proposal to limit elk licenses in the southern San Luis Valley. Input can be provided through a short on-line survey HERE. Deadline to submit comments on-line is Sept. 10.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is considering making Game Management Unit 83 totally limited for elk hunting because of safety concerns and big-game management needs. A group of hunters and property owners has also made the request. If the change is implemented, hunters will have to apply for all elk licenses for the unit through the annual license draw. Currently, hunters can buy over-the-counter licenses for the second and third seasons.

GMU 83 is unique in western Colorado because it is comprised entirely of private land. Elk gather in large numbers in the subdivisions throughout the GMU which is located in Costilla County. Hunters drive the many public roads in the area looking for elk and often find themselves on private property within subdivisions and among the houses. Especially during the second and third elk seasons, when over-the-counter licenses are available, shots are often fired across roads from all directions creating dangerous conditions for hunters and the public.

CPW is considering limiting elk hunting licenses in the San Luis Valley

Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the San Luis Valley, said CPW wants to assure safe conditions for hunters, homeowners and the public.

“Enforcement of hunting rules is difficult and there are safety concerns because of the proximity between the elk and the homes,” Basagoitia said. “CPW is addressing this situation to alleviate public safety concerns and to better manage elk herd in the area. The elk herd and traditional hunting are important to residents of the county and others. We want to strike the best balance that we can to meet those needs and do it safely,”

If the change is approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission the new rules would take effect for the 2020 big-game season. The Public Informaiton Officer for the Southwest region is Joe Lewandowski who can be reached directly at 970-375-6708.