Monday, August 22, 2011

Forrest Service re-opens for camping in Apache-Sitgreaves following Wallowa fire

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest officials reopened more areas this week that burned in this year's Wallow wildfire, the largest fire in Arizona's history. Open roads are marked with white arrow signs.

Many developed campgrounds in the fire area are open for use including Acre Lake, KP Cienega, and Stray Horse. Some areas will remain closed through at least the next several months including South Fork Campground.

All the developed recreation sites along the East Fork and West Fork of the Black River are also open.

Dispersed camping is allowed within 30 feet of any route designated as open with a white arrow, in areas designated as open. NOTE: This is part of the new Travel Management Plan and is a change from previous rules. Forest entry and dispersed camping farther than 30 feet from an open roadway is allowable by non-motorized means only, and only in areas designated as open on the map.

Throughout the coming weeks, visitors can expect that trails signed as open have been cleared of most hazards such as downed and falling trees.

All other trails in designated open areas have not been mitigated and pose a higher risk to users. Each visitor is responsible for his or her own safety. The Forest Service warns, before choosing a parking or camping spot, "Look Up, Look Down, and Look Around."

Falling trees, stump holes and flooding continue to exist throughout the forest.

Check here for additional roads and areas that are open, and for a copy of the closure order, a comprehensive list of roads, trails, and recreation sites, as well as maps indicating open and closed areas, visit the forest's website.

NOTE: Closure violations are punishable by a fine of as much as $5,000 for individuals and imprisonment for as long as six months, or both. This, too, is part of the new Travel Management Rules.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lightning kills Colorado man camping in Arizona

It used to be a cliche about something being as rare as "being struck by lightning." But surprisingly, there are several lightning strikes and deaths each year in the US.

Arizona averages 1.4 lightning deaths each year, having it's first of 2011 on July 12th when a Colorado high school teacher was killed while camping in Arizona. Nationwide there have been 15 lightning strike deaths this year.

To improve your odds, stay west of the Mississippi River since the majority of deaths happened east of the river. Be a female--11 of the 15 strikes were male. And avoid Florida, the number one state for lightning deaths and known as the lightning capital of the world, with 461 recorded deaths since 1959. The corridor from Tampa to Orlando has one of the highest  in the world density of lightning strikes per year.

The National Weather Service offers the following safety tips during electrical storms.

• NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!
• If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
• When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter.
• Safe shelter is a substantial building or inside an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle.
• Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.

Indoor Lightning Safety Tips
• Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put
you in direct contact with electricity.
• Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets.
• Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
• Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
• Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks
• NEVER lie flat on the ground
• NEVER use a tree for shelter
• NEVER use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
• Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
• Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
• UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should ANY of the above actions be taken if a building or an all-metal vehicle is nearby  

If Someone Is Struck
• Victims DO NOT carry an electrical charge and may need immediate medical attention.
• Monitor the victim and begin CPR or AED, if necessary.
• Call 911 for help.