An Open Letter re the Lake Fire Closure

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    • #1633
      Hikin Jim
      Participant

      I thought I posted this a bit ago, but it’s not showing up.  Let me try again (see below).  Map of area discussed:  http://caltopo.com/m/RAAV

      San Bernardino National Forest
      Attn: Jody Noiron, Forest Supervisor
      602 South Tippecanoe Avenue
      San Bernardino, CA 92408

      Dear Ms. Noiron:

      I understand that the Forest Closure for the Lake Fire is coming up for review shortly, in July 2017. Please consider removing Trail Fork Springs (both the springs themselves and the adjacent backcountry camping area of the same name) from the closure area. This could be easily effected by simply removing Section 32, Township 1 North, Range 1 East, SBBM from the closure area.

      There was no burning in the Trail Fork Springs and camp area from the Lake Fire. This assertion is based on firsthand knowledge. Last year, I climbed San Bernardino Peak and proceeded east. I expected to see the trail taped off, but on that day it was not. I knew that the closure order had been recently modified. Thinking that the area was no longer under closure order, I went down to the springs and camp area to get water. While I was there, I took a look around. No burning had occurred at the springs or in the camp area. Afterward, I came to understand that I had actually gone past the closure boundary and that someone had probably torn down the tape without authorization. Inasmuch as there was no tape and no burning, I had no idea at the time that I was proceeding past a closure boundary.

      The following benefits would be derived from opening the Trail Fork springs and camp area:
      1. Public safety. The opening of this area would provide a source of drinking water. Particularly for those ascending the Momyer Creek Trail (1E06), this would be of great benefit. There is no reliable water anywhere along the Momyer Creek Trail from the time it leaves Mill Creek until the time it reaches the San Bernardino Peak Divide. Particularly in summer season, a source of water might well prevent heat casualties.

      2. Increased dispersion of impacts. The opening of this area would provide an attractive destination, relieving “pressure” on other portions of the wilderness. Currently, there is high demand for wilderness permits on those trails that remain open. In addition to permitted traffic, there is a good deal of unauthorized traffic. Any reasonably attractive destination along those trails that remain open is seeing a higher than normal level of visitation. Opening up the Trail Fork springs and camp area would tend to relieve some of the “pressure” on those areas that are receiving abnormally high visitation.

      In short, there would be a benefit to both the public and the forest at no risk to public safety – the Trail Fork springs and camp area simply did not burn. I therefore urge you to consider opening Trail Fork springs and camp, perhaps by simply removing Section 32, Township 1 North, Range 1 East, SBBM from the closure area.

    • #1641
      shawnsisler
      Participant

      Great letter and good details. I hope they respond.

      We have been trying to push for the opening of Forsee Creek trail to Trail Fork Spring because there seems to be only a few patches of standing dead trees. Hopefully the Forest Service will make it a priority to remove the hazard trees along Forsee Creek Trail which would open it up to Trail Fork Springs and on to San Bernardino Peak.

      SGWA volunteer

    • #1642
      Hikin Jim
      Participant

      It does seem like the Forsee Creek Trail would be the logical trail to mitigate first.  It lies well west of the heaviest burning which occurred around Grinnell Mountain.

       

      The San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail from the saddle west of Anderson Peak to Dollar Lake Saddle might also be a good candidate for early mitigation.

       

      However, Trail Fork Springs could be opened as is, without any hazard mitigation.  There just wasn’t any burning there.  While I hope the entire Wilderness will reopen quickly, I think a little fine tuning of the rather blunt instrument that the closure now is would be in order.

      HJ

    • #1643
      SoCal Backpackers
      Participant

      Great letter indeed. Thank you for taking the initiative on this Hikin’ Jim!

    • #1653
      Nub
      Participant

      Jim, a friend and I started at SB trailhead, hit a few peaks and continued across the Divide trail.  Nothing to indicate this section was closed.  Camped near Anderson peak and continued on the following morning to summit San G.  There was a little burn damage, and I mean a very little, however I also saw zero reason that portion of the trail should be closed…FOR 2.5 YEARS!

    • #1684
      Webdweeb
      Participant

      Today is the official expiration date of the closure order-has anyone here heard about a revision or extension to that order?

    • #1685
      Hikin Jim
      Participant

      I’ve seen no announcement of extension, revocation, or modification.  Absent a Forest Closure Order, I suppose that, legally, the SGW is now fully open although getting a Wilderness Permit might be another matter.

      HJ

    • #1686
      shawnsisler
      Participant

      It is still in effect today.

      05-12-51-16-03 EMERGENCY CLOSURE – Human entry closure into Lake Fire Closure Area on the Mountaintop and Front Country Ranger Districts (July 19, 2016 through July 18, 2017!)

      https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sbnf/home/?cid=fsbdev7_007775

      • #1687
        Hikin Jim
        Participant

        Ah.  I suppose you are right.

        Well, let us hope for substantial modification.  It seems rather odd to have so many areas that simply did not burn be part of the closure.

        HJ

         

    • #1688
      Nub
      Participant

      Jim, unless I’m missing something, this closure order is for 2016 to today, 2017.  I read that as the trail is open as of midnight tonight.  All of the other closures listed include a one year extension at the top paragraph of the order.  This one does not.  Did I read it incorrectly?  Look at Shawn’s post.

       

    • #1690
      Webdweeb
      Participant

      I believe that is correct-the original order was extended last year to EOD today.  However, as Jim points out, that does not necessarily mean that the trail camps subject to the closure order are available to reserve (in advance or in person).

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by Webdweeb.
    • #1692
      Nub
      Participant

      You are probably correct, but just going to have to see during reservation request.  I am more interested in (legally) hiking the divide trail again, from SB peak to San G peak.  When we completed it a month ago, there was zero reason to have that area closed…yea there was some burn area, but the trail was clear and required no maintenance.  There was no closure sign(s) entering from SB side, however Dollar Lake Saddle still had closure erected entering the SB divide from the east.

    • #1694
      Hikin Jim
      Participant

      I hope they open everything, but the SB Peak Divide Trail could be pretty easily opened I would think.  There’s not a lot of dense timber up their waiting to come down.  The area under closure that the trail passes through is all above 10,000′ elevation.

      Incidentally, there’s quite a lot of area under “fire” closure that simply did not burn.  Not sure what the thinking is there.  The following sections could be removed from the closure in their entirety:

      Township 1 North, Range 1 West, SBBM:
      25 and 36

      Township 1 North, Range 1 East, SBBM:
      30, 31, and 32

      Township 1 South, Range 1 West, SBBM:
      N/A

      Township 1 South, Range 1 East, SBBM:
      4 (except for NE 1/4 of NE 1/4), 5, 6, 8, and 9

      Map link of area, below.  Areas shaded in green are under closure but did not burn.

      https://caltopo.com/m/L671

      HJ

      P.S.  I’m giving very precise, legal definitions of the land here, areas that it would be extremely easy for the USFS to remove from the closure order.  There are other areas that did not burn, but those areas are a little harder to describe in cadastral survey terms.  See also:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadastral_surveying

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by Hikin Jim.
    • #1696
      zippetydude
      Participant

      Hi Jim.  Thanks for the map, it looks pretty bleak for the whole SF drainage.  That was my favorite trail in the whole wilderness so I’m kind of dreading my first trip back in to see the area. Still, I really hope they’ll just drop the restrictions and open the entire wilderness again.  Seems like all the Forest Service personnel that I have talked to seem to be cautiously optimistic, so I’m hoping for the best. The timing would be awesome for me – I’ve been out of action for the most part due to injuries for the past couple of years, so I’m really looking forward to getting back on the trails.  Hope to see you and Joyce out there!

       

      z

      • #1698
        Hikin Jim
        Participant

        Hey, Zip,

        Yeah serious bummer about South Fork area.  The area around Poop Out Hill really got nuked.  Further upstream, based on what volunteers etc. have been telling me, the burning is more spot burning although some areas are more heavily burned than others.  The map link I posted has little notes that indicate what degree of burning occurred where, at least to the best of my ability with what I’ve been able to piece together.  I hear Dry Lake did pretty well.  The camp area at Dollar Lake, not so much.

        HJ

      • #1724
        Kenny G
        Participant

        If you look at the satellite pictures on Google maps, it looks like parts of the wilderness have updated pictures after July 2015. There are parts that are clearly burned, like the areas around dry lake, but the large lodgepoles seem to have survived.

    • #1699
      zippetydude
      Participant

      As soon as they open it up I plan on taking a long trip through the whole area and kind of sizing up the situation.  I’ll take pics and post everything.  I still have pics of when I was 14 and started my first backpack at Poop Out…

       

      z

      • #1700
        Hikin Jim
        Participant

        Very cool.  I have fond memories of driving up the Poop Out Hill Road in our 1965 Chevy Nova station wagon, and fond memories of Dry and Dollar Lakes.  Not such fond memories of Grayback where I got altitude sickness my first trip up.  THAT was miserable.

        HJ

    • #1730
      shawnsisler
      Participant

      USFS has granted access to most of the areas that we were hoping for: SB Peak Divide Trail, Forsee Creek Trail to SB Peak Divide Trail, South Fork Trail to Dry Lake & Dollar Lake.

      SGWA trail crew volunteers have worked very hard on repairing and clearing the trails in the fire closed area that USFS allowed: Forsee Creek Trail & South Fork Trail.

      Thanks to their help the trails that have opened should be fairly clear of debris but I am sure there is still some trouble spots.

      For those hiking in the reopened area, please try to report trail issues to this forum and/or Mill Creek ranger station.

      And remember to be extra careful in the burned out areas of: dead standing trees, missing trail signs, hard to find, blocked or damaged trails. We don’t want people getting hurt or lost and giving the USFS reasons to close the area again.

      SGWA volunteer

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