Saturday, October 6, 2012

Photos of Valles Caldera Rim a Year after Las Conchas Wildfire by Dorothy Hoard

Here are some photos of the Valles Caldera Rim a year after the June 2011 Las Conchas wildfire:

June 2012:  The view from the north side of Cerro Grande looking north through the trees to Pajarito Mountain.  The Valle Grande is on the left. This area of severe burn will take longer to get a ground cover of grasses, wildflowers, and weeds.  Cerro Grande is on the east rim of the Valles Caldera.

June 2012:  The Valle Grande from Cerro Grande at a severely burned area on the rim.  Prior to the fire, the trees were very thick and deadfall was very high here. The fire was so hot that it burned all the seed bank. Plants will have to blow in or be deposited by animals before the area re-vegetates.

June 2012:  A view of the Valle Grande from Rabbit Ridge, on the south rim of the Valles Caldera, shows fire scars on Cerro del Medio and Cerro del Abrigo. Rabbit Ridge was not burned severely in this spot, but other places are badly burned. The Preserve Board recently opened this area for unrestricted hiking on old roads and trails.

June 2012:  Looking into the Valle Grande from a severely burned section of Rabbit Ridge.  Within eight years or so, the dead trees will fall and the view will be very fine.  The few low green plants in this photo are aspen trees, which will grow to obscure the fallen black trunks.

June 2012: Aspen regrowth at Paso del Norte, on the south rim of the Valles Caldera, following the 2011 Las Conchas Fire.  The dead trees will fall within a few years and the aspens will obscure them. This will be a dense forest again, but with different trees.  A motorcycle club had a trail through here prior to the 2011 Las Conchas Fire. The trail is barely visible one year after the fire. This section of the rim is on the Santa Fe National Forest and is open to unrestricted access.

June 2012: View of the Valle Grande from the rim near Paso del Norte. Prior to the 2011 fire, the forest was so thick that one would never guess a grassland was just below.  The area here was so badly burned that only a few wildflowers have taken hold.

From 2005-2009, reconnaissance trips were taken around the Valles Caldera Rim.  These reports are linked to here.

We would appreciate hearing of other Valles Caldera Rim Trail trip reports, especially those in the sections of the rim burned by the Las Conchas wildfire.

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