The battle of Twitchell Canyon


Early in October the team geared up to once again head to the Twitchell Canyon plots in the Beaver Ranger District of Fishlake. Impending thunderstorms however made retreat on the dirt forest service road possibly impassable, a risk they were just not willing to take. So they headed to the Powel Ranger District to the Bluefly plots allowing for the luxury of returning home each evening. However, by the end of the week the team was shocked to be pushed out of the field by snow so early in October! As temperatures dropped and wind increased the team was forced to retreat to the bunkhouse. Data days thus ensued. Although not terribly exciting, getting caught up on data entry is indeed terribly important. Fortunately the sun did not retreat for too long and soon the team was back out in the field. Feeling reenergized and optimistic, they returned to tackle the Twitchell plots. Much to their dismay the sun had just not been out for long enough and snow lingered throughout the canyon. Once again defeated, they returned to the Powel Ranger District to begin a new project in John’s Valley. They bid Michael farewell and good luck as he headed to Colorado Fire Camp for Firefighter Type II training. He recalls his journey below: “I left for fire school in Salida CO, on Wednesday. There I was trained in the noble art of wildland firefighting. In the classroom, we were taught the basic idea and theory of firefighting, and fire suppression tactics. Once outside, we would put what we were taught in class into practice. We learned how to deploy our fire shelter, and when doing so was appropriate. We got to do a small prescribed burn, learning to use drip torches, and fusees effectively and safely. Finally, the class dug a fireline, employing the cup-trench and scratch-and-go techniques of digging line. On Sunday, we took the pack test, walking 3 miles in 45 minutes carrying 45lbs. The Colorado Fire Camp was a fantastic experience, and has opened up the opportunity or firefighting for me. I highly recommend it to anyone who might be interested in fire.” Laura took a few well-earned days to spend with her folks. With two of their compadres gone, Doug and Anna headed to John’s Valley on some truly harrowing roads. But with perseverance, they returned unscathed and were able to wrap up the whole project just between the two of them. Reunited and still optimistic, the team traveled yet again to Twitchell Canyon… with success! The consistently sunny days managed to melt all the snow except for the highest of peaks. Hiking was truly challenging over extremely steep slopes and long distances to far away plots. The Twitchell Canyon fire burned 44,000 acres last year and is a very important area for Fishlake National Forest fire ecologists to continue to monitor as life regenerates. They all felt a great sense of accomplishment for making the arduous journey to some very important plots.