I am hiking across acres of Southwest Colorado with my fabulous best friend, a Black Mouth Cur that I named, appropriately, “Blessing” on our morning “walk” through the fields and woods of the farm where we now live. It is out … Continue reading
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Are You Heavenly Aligned? ? March 27 2014 ? “Come in, I will give you shelter from the storm.” He congenially said to me. I had another dream. It included three black sheep, a new wine…
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Scientists are assessing the damage from a massive wildfire burning around Yosemite National Park, laying plans to protect habitat and waterways as the fall rainy season approaches.
Members of the federal Burned Area Emergency Response team were hiking the rugged Sierra Nevada terrain Saturday even as thousands of firefighters still were battling the four-week-old blaze, now the third-largest wildfire in modern California history.
Federal officials have amassed a team of 50 scientists, more than twice what is usually deployed to assess wildfire damage. With so many people assigned to the job, they hope to have a preliminary report ready in two weeks so remediation can start before the first storms, Alex Janicki, the Stanislaus National Forest BAER response coordinator, said.
Team members are working to identify areas at the highest risk for erosion into streams, the Tuolumne River and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, San Francisco’s famously pure water supply.
The wildfire started in the Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17 when a hunter’s illegal fire swept out of control and has burned 394 square miles of timber, meadows and sensitive wildlife habitat.
It has cost more than $89 million to fight, and officials say it will cost tens of millions of dollars more to repair the environmental damage alone.
About 5 square miles of the burned area is in the watershed of the municipal reservoir serving 2.8 million people – the only one in a national park.
“That’s 5 square miles of watershed with very steep slopes,” Janicki said “We are going to need some engineering to protect them.”
So far the water remains clear despite falling ash, and the city water utility has a six month supply in reservoirs closer to the Bay Area.
The BAER team will be made up of hydrologists, botanists, archeologists, biologists, geologists and soil scientists from the U.S. Forest Service, Yosemite National Park, the Natural Resource Conservation and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The team also will look at potential for erosion and mudslides across the burn area, assess what’s in the path and determine what most needs protecting.
“We’re looking to evaluate what the potential is for flooding across the burned area,” said Alan Gallegos, a team member and geologist with the Sierra National Forest. “We evaluate the potential for hazard and look at what’s at risk — life, property, cultural resources, species habitat. Then we come up with a list of treatments.”
In key areas with a high potential for erosion ecologists can dig ditches to divert water, plant native trees and grasses, and spray costly hydro-mulch across steep canyon walls in the most critical places.
Fire officials still have not released the name of the hunter responsible for starting the blaze. On Friday Kent Delbon, the lead investigator, would not characterize what kind of fire the hunter had set or how they had identified the suspect.
“I can say some really good detective work out there made this thing happen,” he told the Associated Press.
Delbon said the Forest Service announced the cause of the fire before being able to release details in order to end rumors started by a local fire chief that the blaze ignited in an illegal marijuana garden.
Unmanned drone is the latest tool in the battle against the wildfire raging at Yosemite National Park.
The MQ-1 National Guard unmanned aircraft being remotely piloted hundreds of miles away quickly alerted fire bosses to a new flare-up they otherwise wouldn’t have immediately seen.
“This morning it’s allowed us to see a spot fire,” said Mike Wilkins, commander of forces at the Rim Fire.
The 12-day-old Rim Fire continued to grow, expanding to 292 square miles, and containment remained at 23 percent. But increasingly confident fire officials said they expect to fully surround it in three weeks, although it will burn for much longer than that.
Each icon represents one of the dozens of large fires currently burning across the West.
“It’s looking better every day,” said incident spokesman Glen Stratton.
While unmanned aircraft have mapped past fires…
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Spiders are everywhere! There are over 30,000 species of spiders in the world. The good news, though, is that in most cases, spider bites cause little more than local pain and inflammation. Most species of spider are unable to penetrate … Continue reading
Goats ordered to clear weeds at J. Edgar Hoover’s cemetery
Wilderness Training Admin Note: So glad we are utilizing nature. This is NOT a new approach, for the weed-clearing animals have been employed for some time as fire prevention, etc. Kudos for this cost-effective and natural remedy! MB
The cemetery said 100 goats will graze along the perimeter of the operating facility, which also provides the resting place of a former vice president, a Supreme Court Justice, 19 senators and 71 representatives.
From the cemetery:
Washington, DC — For the first time, Historic Congressional Cemetery welcomes a grazing herd of 100+ live “eco” goats to control invasive species threatening the National Historic Landmark.
The non-profit Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery has partnered with Eco-Goats, to introduce Washington’s first herd of grazing goats that will be grazing temporarily along the perimeter of the cemetery. A media event will introduce this innovative “green” project on Aug. 7 and the goats will be available to view from Aug. 7- Aug. 12.
This innovative environmental project will clear the exterior perimeter fenced area of invasive species using nothing other than 100+ live goats. The goats will graze 24 hours a day for six days, eliminating vines, poison ivy, ground cover and even fallen debris all the while fertilizing the ground. The revolutionary use of eco-goats eliminates the need for harmful herbicides and prevents the invasive and often foreign species from killing large mature trees in the cemetery’s wooded area, which can fall onto the grounds as a result and damage invaluable historic headstones.
“This a unique project that combines natural and cultural resources, providing the perfect solution for us since we are located so close to the Anacostia River edge,” stated Paul K. Williams, President of Historic Congressional Cemetery, ” We don’t want to utilize chemicals due to our riverside location and because of our membership only, off-leash dog walking program. ”
The public is encouraged to visit this unique living project, the first of its kind in Washington, D.C. Aug. 7 – 12. The livestock will be penned outside the burial areas in a 1.6 acre heavily wooded area for approximately 6 days, but easily visible to those walking in the cemetery, open dawn to dusk.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to demonstrate the positive aspects of using goats to help reduce and control problem vegetation. This is also the first time we have found a suitable partner for a project inside the beltway,” said Brian Knox, owner and supervising forester of Annapolis-based Eco-Goats.
They call it the Duke, and it’s reportedly one of the most famous catfish in England. About time it had it’s picture taken, then.
The angler lucky enough to pose with the 115-pound wels catfish is 67-year-old Rodney Hills, who caught it earlier this month. Hill told the Bucks Free Press that it took about half an hour to reel in the massive fish and a couple of extra hands from his Catfish Conservation Group fishing party to actually get the monster out of the water and weigh it.
“It was quite a struggle,” Hills told the newspaper. The catfish was identified as the famous Duke by a circular scar near its dorsal fin, the report notes.
Following the photo-op, Hills returned the Duke to the Norfolk lake where he’d caught it. According to GrindTV, the bait that landed the massive catfish was a chunk of smoked pork sausage.
Make no mistake about it: 115 pounds is a whole lot of fish. But wels catfish, which are found in southern England and throughout continental Europe, have been known to grow even bigger.
According to Der Spiegel, wels catfish can grow to lengths of 10 feet and weigh upwards of 300 pounds. The species’ rapid expansion through German waters has excited sportsmen and puzzled researchers.
In France, wels catfish have been observed — and filmed — jumping out of water along shorelines to feed on pigeons.
Hunters & Conservationists Unite: It’s not an oxymoron. Considering the current economic situation, all were happy to see that the tag sold for more than $75,000. All of the funds go directly into the big game management fund and get used to further wildlife conservation in California.Surveys for bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel range have been conducted annually since 1979. The mountain range once held an estimated 740 sheep, which made the San Gabriel population the largest population of desert bighorn sheep in California. The bighorn population declined more than 80 percent through the 1980s but appears to be on the increase with recent estimates yielding approximately 400 animals.
A California Desert Bighorn Sheep tag sold for $45,000 at the 41st Safari Club International Convention in Reno, Nevada. The tag was sold through the Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation). Each year the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) authorizes the sale of a limited number of big game permits through various conservation organizations to support wildlife programs in the state. All proceeds from the sale will be used to fund conservation efforts in California.
The tag was sold to Jim Craig of Indiana to hunt Zone 2, the Kelso Peak and Old Dad Mountains in San Bernardino County. The season for this tag will run from Nov. 2, 2013 to Feb. 2, 2014. Craig has purchased a California Desert Bighorn Auction tag for three years running. He is an ardent sheep hunter and donates to bighorn sheep conservation projects along with buying auction tags. He cites California’s wildlife management and personnel as some of the best in the West.
Generally, three bighorn sheep, 10 deer, three elk and two pronghorn antelope tags are available for auction annually.
This year’s second Desert Bighorn Sheep auction tag, the open zone tag, will be auctioned at the California Wild Sheep Foundation Banquet in Carmichael, Calif. on April 27. For more information on this tag go to: http://www.cawsf.org.
What is your opinion on this issue of sacrificing a few to save many? Please leave your comments on the About the Author tab or Tweat me @MarybethHaydon Thank you! & My FB is http://ow.ly/hycIm
ALSO: I will be posting photos of this years bighorn sheep survey on my Facebook. I am one of the volunteers who go out into the field and count the sheep. It is quite the privilege and delight to see these impressive creatures in their natural habitat, out of harms way. I have the survey from 2011 already posted on my Facebook, come visit and check it out. Go to Photos, then to Albums. http://ow.ly/i46ro (My Facebook is under Wilderness Training)
Regina Abella, Desert Bighorn Sheep Coordinator, (916) 445-3728
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478
OK, I’M IN THE WILDERNESS, NOW WHAT DO I DO? . . . Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!
Ok, no lions and tigers and no Auntie Em either. But definitely time to explore the practicalities and safety issues of wildlife encounters. Remembering that all wildlife are indeed wild and are extremely dangerous when provoked. So let’s learn how “not to provoke”. Also, the more you know and understand equales empowerment, and the calmer and more assured and safer you will be while on trail.
Black Bear. You’re hiking an area that has a lot of switchbacks, blind corners and you’re in bear country. We don’t need to startle mama bear with her cubs, so softly talk or sing, or pray out loud as you near those blind corners. Occasionally check the ground ahead of you for tracks or scat to alert you to its presence. Their tracks look like bare people feet (at least to me) and their scat is significant and full of berries or fur. If you see garbage or saran wrap in the scat, you have a habituated bear in the area. Time to reconsider your hike. A habituated bear associates humans with food, making them uncharacteristically aggressive and eventually a dead animal by our euthanizng hands. Not to mention at minimum, a rattled you.
Well, lookie there, a black bear. What to do? Has the bear seen you? If not, don’t announce yourself and simply detour or turn back. Calmly. It has seen you? Stop where you are. Be calm. I know you did NOT bring McDonalds or tuna sandwiches with you, or any food to entice wildlife, so is the bear considering you a food source? If somehow a packed picnic lunch found its way into your pack, remove your pack and toss it on the ground ahead and away from you. Disassociate yourself from it and begin to back away. Do not run or turn your back on the bear; that’s what prey do and loud noises might force it to protect itself. Again, DO NOT RUN, it will stimulate the animals predatory instinct. Black bears often will bluff charge, it will be difficult, but stand your ground. After it stops a few feet from you, you can continue your backing away and the bear will definitely investigate the pack that you left. Don’t bother going back for it, which is why you pack your car keys and turned-off phone (otherwise the battery will wear down trying to find a signal while you’re in the mountains) on your person, preferably in a zip-up pocket or safety-pinned to your clothing. (I had to re-hike a snowy and difficult trail looking for car keys once. Lesson learned.)
Being respectful and aware of the animals comfort zone will go a long way. Another point to remember is that dogs irritate bears. If you hike with an unleashed dog, please change that habit, it’s a danger to Spot and to other hikers. Secondly, as your dog jogs ahead, encounters a bear, it runs back to you for protection. Guess who they are leading back to you? Yup, Spot just brought you one big unwanted “gift”.
My biggest problem is getting an enounter on film, getting the camera out fast enough to capture the rare moment. And you may want to check behind you occasionally, especially if you’re preoccupied taking pics of your exciting encounter. Remember, BEAR SIGHTINGS AND ENCOUNTERS ARE UNUSUAL. I have been in the bear country for the majority of my hikes, 2-3 times a week and it took over 3.5 years before I actually sighted a bear. Bear encounters are rare. So relax and have fun!
Snakes. While you’re checking the ground ahead of you for scat to avoid, protruding roots or rock to trip you up (aka ‘speed bumps’), and for anything alive, you may as well look for snakes. Snakes are shy critters and prefer not to interact with you. They are typically unaggressive. They usually slither away before you’ve approached them since they have sensed your “trespass” by the vibration of your steps. They don’t have ears, can’t hear you so if you’re screaming at it, it’s for naught. If it’s a rattler and it actually rattled at you, (they do not always rattle) it’s simply warning you that you’re too close. It wants it’s “space”, so give it some. The last thing a snake actually wants to do is to bite you, as any close encounter with another animal (including YOU) puts the snake at risk as well.
Please, do NOT go chasing after it because you have “great video” especially if it is rattling at you. You are putting yourself and companions at risk and you are needlessly harassing animal life. You have most likely chased it into an area where there are other snakes & while you’re videoing one, you have others who see you as a threat. Quite the picture, isn’t it? If that isn’t enough incentive, not only is a bite very painful but will run you $100,000 AND UP for anti venom that is if you get to medical within a reasonable time. More on first aid in Part Two http://ow.ly/gY1UB
Back away and wait for it to wander off. It out-of-the-ordinarily lingers? Then from a distance, toss a few rocks around it, no need to hurt or kill it, and it will move away to the nearest brush or rock hideaway. Or you can stomp your feet, to the snake it will feel like an entire army is approaching, and as shy as it is, off it will go. If it’s injured you may need to pull from your patience reserve, but it will eventually get out of your way. I usually “X” mark the trail dirt with my trekking pole so that on my return I can be aware that there was one at that spot on my way up. Also, I use my poles to tap the rock in front of me as I descend from a hike since I can’t see what’s beyond or under the rock ahead. They like to hide in the crevices. ALWAYS tap-out any log or rock that you intend to rest upon. For your hiking times you can purchase a pair of *snake gaiters if that will make you feel safer, which I wear when I’m trail-blazing and off trail. Again, my biggest problem with snakes (well, every wildlife encounter) has been getting the camera out fast enough. Even after accidentally standing on a really ticked off & coiled rattler, (NOT RECOMMENDED) I wasn’t bitten, by the grace of God. I repeat: accidentally! (W.T. the Novice chapter 7) I’ve learned to stay on trail while on regular treks since then! Do NOT approach or handle snakes, or any of our wildlife. And, generally, a triangular head means venomous. A rounded head, not. But I’m speaking generally and from experience from within California; I’m not familiar with other states and their wildlife. So do your research before you hike. As a rule, the young venomous snakes, if they strike, in their inexperience tend to over-envenomate which is what makes their bite more dangerous. Keep your distance, please. But no need to be freaked out now that you know their behavior, you know what to expect and how to respond.A Bobcat will most likely run from you, or simply watch you as you pass. They’re the size of a really overgrown tom cat and generally do not pose a threat, but such a sighting is definitely camera worthy!
The cougar is dangerous and has been known to attack people and children. If you’re hiking with a group, all the better. But if you’re the smallest person in the group, you do not want to be last in line. It signals weakness, possible prey to the cougar. In CA, a woman was attacked from behind as she rode her bike along a fairly trafficked trail. The animal was later euthanized.
They are gorgeous animals, big, strong and potentially lethal. They like to be at the highest point, but they also are ground level, under brush for surprise attacks. Even at a distance a brief glimpse should be cause for alarm. Though the cougar is most likely to leave the area, you should group together and travel with caution. If there are repeated sightings, be prepared to aggressively defend yourself and others. Be alert and on guard for the remainder of your hike. Also, the mountain lion is crepuscular, so plan the hours of your hike around that. This is one animal I highly respect and depend completely upon the Lord for help and protection against. He is more than capable! Then I subsequently rely upon my training, research, experience and upon my God-given senses.
If attacked by a mountain lion, appear larger: Raise your arms. If you have trekking poles raise them over your head, appear large. Pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. Women, lower your voice, sound masculine, decisive. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it. Fight back if attacked: A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. Fight back aggressively!
Deer. Believe it or not, they can be aggressive. Simply keep your distance and appreciate these lovely creatures from afar. Do not approach and feed. If a wild animal appears docile, is bedded down and is allowing you to approach it? There is something seriously wrong and it will most likely attack you in lightening speed. Leave wild animals alone. If you accidently stumble upon one up close, do not look it in the eye. Stay still, look down, it will take off.
Fox, Coyote, Bighorn sheep. These fascinating animals commonly will avoid you, but if you get the privilege of sighting them, I sincerely hope you brought your camera! Fox packs actually use one area for scatting, called a fox latrine. When you see multiple, thin, fur-embedded scat you have probably hit upon a fox latrine. Get your camera ready, they are so fun to watch as they track mice underground!The bighorn sheep will tolerate your presence as long as you are quiet and do not look them (or any animal) in the eye. They feed on the brightest of food, the bright color signals high nutrition. So, when we thoughtlessly release those mylar balloons into the atmosphere, the sheep are dying from feeding on them. FYI.
Coyote, in a pack should be considered dangerous. Pack attack on humans are not a common occurrence. Again, if you’re carrying food, you’re making yourself a target. If approached, toss that Bigmac!
TWO-LEGGED THREATS: And if you routinely hike alone, may I suggest that you carry some sort of pepper spray?
REMEMBER: Preparation is key, watching for danger signs will become habit, a very good habit, and you will be able to enjoy your trek with confidence and calm. Yes it’s wild out there, just not so savage that you should stay away.
* I’m very happy with the snake gaiters that I purchased from Uplanders Warehouse http://ow.ly/gOq8n
Your comments, concerns, personal experiences and information is greatly encouraged! Your comments may help someone else! Also check back for updates on Part 1 and Part 2 of the Fight Or flight blog. Scroll for my next blog, Part Two.
Click for Part 2 http://ow.ly/gY1UB Discussed in FIGHT OR FLIGHT Part Two: Signs of Presence, Danger Signs, Precautions, First Aid for snake bite.