Philmont Wildfire Situation: 4 June 2002


Date: Tue, 04 Jun 2002 08:02:05 -0700
From: Larry Tuck <larry_tuck@earthlink.net>
Subject: [Philmont]: Fires
By now everyone has heard about the fires on Philmont. Last night I got a call from my daughter, who is on staff there this summer. She sounded pretty down. She is assigned to Head of Dean, and at this point doesn't know if she'll have a camp to go to. The ranch is hot, dry and brown, and covered with a pall of smoke; CHQ is "a dustbowl."

"This place is my second home," she said. "It hurts so much to see it like this."

The north country is closed and has been evacuated. At last report it sounded like Ponil had been completely surrounded by fire but the buildings had been saved by dumping large amounts of fire retardant on them. My daughter hadn't heard much about other camps, including her own.

The staff is in training this week at CHQ or in the south country, and no Philmont staff is in danger. Voluntary evacuations are in effect for Cimarron, and Philmont has offered to house evacuees.

The backcountry staff was scheduled to scatter to their assigned camps on Friday. At this point management hasn't decided what to do about the north country staff. If fires continue to burn they may be reassigned to south country camps. They'll tell the staff of their decision on Thursday. When treks start next week, north country treks will have to be re-routed, but at this point management is saying that there is no plan to close the ranch.

Meanwhile, the staff is getting extra training in fire safety and evacuation procedures. If you are trekking Philmont this summer pay particular attention to the evacuation instructions you will receive; if you are not where you are supposed to be some staff member is going to be putting him or herself on the line to go looking for you.

The loss of habitat and food will, of course, only make the bear situation that much worse, so please also be particularly careful about bear safety as well.

PTC, by the way, is not affected at this point, though like everything else it is hot, dry and smoky. If you are driving in and planning to take the road over the mountains from Taos, you might want to check ahead to be sure the road is open.

Apparently the switchboard is swamped with calls. Before you call keep in mind that this is an evolving situation and at least as of last night management is still watching developments and formulating plans, and they may not have firm answers for you.

Again, the north country is closed for now. If you are trekking there, especially early in the season, expect to be re-routed.

PTC is open.

There is no plan at this point to close Philmont.

If you go to Philmont this summer, keep yourself safe. Please be patient and understanding; the staff and management are doing the best they can to cope with a bad situation, and to provide a positive Philmont experience for you while keeping everyone safe.

Pray for rain.

Larry Tuck
SM, Troop 761
Thousand Oaks, CA
Advisor, 2001 Philmont Crew 723-D, 2003 Crew 810-D


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