This summer, 2012, a fire started in the Gila Wilderness in southern New Mexico and it is the largest in history, burning about four times the land area of the Cerro Grande.
This past Saturday, I went on a PEEC sponsored hike to see American Springs with naturalist Dorothy Hoard, author and guide extraordinaire. Along the way we could see trees that survived the Cerro Grande standing alone among the grasses. Below them were aspens that had regrown and were about eight feet tall. Last summer they burned again. Now tiny little aspens are a foot tall, growing from the ancient roots of their family, and fed by seeps like American Spring.
|Dorothy reflected in the waters of American Spring|
The actual spring has a concrete containment built around it, to hold the water in for a while before it seeps on down the hill. The containment was built sometime in the 1930's when a logging company needed water for its operations. Now there is about six inches of water and while it's not accessible to most animals, the larger grazers can put their heads through the hole for a drink. Other small seep puddles are open for the racoons, skunks, and squirrels.
PEEC runs walks, tours, summer camps, and classes for adults and children all year round. Recently the county council agreed to spend four million on a new building to house the program. Up till now, PEEC has been run with donations of money and time, and was housed in an old elementary school building. Having a new expanded facility, which will include a planetarium, will allow PEEC to offer many more adventures in the quest for knowledge.
PEEC's website is here: http://www.pajaritoeec.org/
And of course, continued donations are gladly accepted, volunteers are welcomed.
|Some dead trees from Cerro Grande (the sticks) and|
some from last years fire (with branches still).
|New growth around|
last years burned dead aspens.
|Portions of forest that survived two devastating fires.|
|A few Ponderosas that escaped|
both fires, and are now "Mother"
trees for the forest.