Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

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Wayne_MO
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Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Wayne_MO » June 14th, 2011, 2:35 pm

Hi all,

I'm sad to see the Chiris and other areas of Arizona being consumed by wildfires and hope the human and wildlife populations affected both recover quickly.

I'm also wondering what adjustments I should make to my monsoon vacation to AZ because of them. Months ago I planned a trip from MO and AZ in early August with my wife and a friend to look for Crotalus pricei and other montane rattlesnakes (only taking pictures in situ, not touching or moving) and locked in lodging reservations and other details to get better deals (some are refundable, some are not..the risk of good deals).

I made reservations near the Chiris and Portal prior to the fires and I'd like to support the area since I'm sure they'll take quite a hit from the fires. But I'm curious if by early August if it will likely still be too smoky to herp even if the monsoon rains put out the fires?

So I guess my questions for AZ folks who have more experience than I do with wildfires, their effects and their longevity are:

1) If the monsoon rains end the fires, do you think it will it be possible to herp the Chiris at all in August, or do you think it will it likely be so smoky humans can't realistically use the area without their eyes and throat hurting from the smoke? What about the flats and the areas that didn't get directly burned but are near where the fire burned? (I know these questions require speculation)

2) I know the fires will dramatically affect snake populations and that it takes time for them to recover, but would it still be possible to see snakes in smaller numbers in areas that are burned the same year (if the area is open and not too smoky)?

3) Is there any point in looking for montane rattlesnakes where same year intense fire damage has occurred or should I commute two hours both ways from my lodging reservations to mountain ranges that are less affected by the fires? I'm o.k. with working hard for a single snake or two and am not that concerned with abundance, so I guess I'm trying to decide whether hiking in or near the burned areas (if the fires are out by August) would be a difficult attempt to find one or two snakes to add to my lifelist or a completely futile walk through a barren wasteland of destruction.

Thank you for any advice you might have!

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ratsnakehaven
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by ratsnakehaven » June 14th, 2011, 3:38 pm

Wayne, those are good questions and it would be interesting to see a range of answers.

IMO, I'd stick with the Chiris rather than commute to another location, such as the Santa Ritas, which is a good 2 and 1/2 hr. drive. Portal has been mostly spared from what I've heard and the fire has passed that area. I'd call and find out what their prognosis is. By August there should have been some rain and the fire should be near 100% contained. I'd stay updated on that though. Your main quarry is in the high elevation rocks, so should have some protection from the fire. I'd be interested in knowing what affect the fire had on them. The forests are probably devastated. The lowland, flats, shouldn't be too affected by the fires, and I would think would produce some herps.

Another location for pricei is the Santa Ritas and the high elevations are mainly unaffected by fire so far this year. It is a rather difficult hike, but a consideration. You could also check out the Huachucas. I'm not sure if they saw any fire, yet, or not. The flats below the Ritas are extremely dry. It's going to take a good amount of rain to change conditions in favor of good activity patterns for snakes. Lizards are fairly abundant. Folks here are thinking the monsoon rains will start early this year and be abundant, so hopefully by August there'll be some good herping to be had. At this point we are mainly hoping though, so take all with a grain of salt.

Cheers....Terry 8-)

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sjfriend
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by sjfriend » June 14th, 2011, 3:58 pm

In my mind, I would stick with the Chiris. As Terry said, I'd check with internet / lodging closer to see fire status.

As for herps, it's always different but the fires I've followed don't usually have too much effect on the population. Most seem to make good use of underground hideouts. I've helped do erosion control after a very hot fire in CA years ago and we found very few dead herps but we located many alive while digging ditches. And this was done when the are was still smoldering so we know what we found were residents and not replacement animals. Also, less brush to hide in helps to locate them.

Good luck

Steve

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Fundad
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Fundad » June 14th, 2011, 8:17 pm

I know the fires will dramatically affect snake populations and that it takes time for them to recover
This is not true...

Arizona is a BIG state, I am sure you will be fine...

Fundad

Wayne_MO
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Wayne_MO » June 15th, 2011, 9:02 am

Thank you for the advice! This information has been very helpful and I appreciate it! Hopefully the monsoons will start early and often and put out the rash of wildfires affecting Arizona.

Thank you again for the replies and thoughts! :thumb:

KevColubrid
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by KevColubrid » June 15th, 2011, 12:04 pm

Wayne, you worrier. We'll be fine. :thumb:

Kevin

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reptilist
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by reptilist » June 15th, 2011, 12:41 pm

The Huachucas are burning too.

:\

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Brandon La Forest
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Brandon La Forest » June 15th, 2011, 12:47 pm

I would just cancle, all the snakes are gonners there will be nothing left to herp! all the SI's will have burned to the ground by the time you get there.

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ratsnakehaven
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by ratsnakehaven » June 15th, 2011, 3:56 pm

Brandon, you pessimist. You probably haven't seen much this year, eh? LOL.

TC

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sjfriend
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by sjfriend » June 15th, 2011, 4:03 pm

Brandon La Forest wrote:I would just cancle, all the snakes are gonners there will be nothing left to herp! all the SI's will have burned to the ground by the time you get there.
I think Brandon is just trying to scare everyone away so he can have them all to himself ;)

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reptilist
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by reptilist » June 16th, 2011, 6:49 am

Prolly a good time to take up rock hounding.

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USNHM242
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by USNHM242 » June 16th, 2011, 9:44 am

Last year my area of Flagstaff was severely burned by the Schultz fire and subsequent flooding. I assumed the herp population was knocked out. This year I am doing a herp survey for NAU up here and I can attest that the herp pop has bounced back in the burned areas surprisingly fast despite of the lack of moisture. I assume most of the herps went underground during the fires and re-emerged after. I am sure some herps were lost in the fire down south, but I am also sure the population will bounce back.

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ratsnakehaven
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by ratsnakehaven » June 16th, 2011, 2:30 pm

Reptiles are animals that are very good at surviving underground. I'm just not sure how much heat damage would be done from a very hot "crown" fire. Also, there's the prospect of not being able to get much oxygen if the air is full of smoke. I'm assuming that a large portion of the reptiles will survive and will eventually come to the surface again; but I'm no authority on these matters. This is definitely the worse fire season I've yet seen in AZ.

When I lived in MI, the dry northern part of the state saw lots of summer fires. The reptiles were very good at surviving these fires. The fires also opened up areas of the forest and reptiles could get more sunlight which was one of the good things about the fires. Thus they prospered and eventually filled the open areas with their numbers. I don't know how long it will take, but my guess is that the fires will help the herps in the long run, as long as no species are exterminated entirely, and I don't think there's any chance of that happening.

TC :roll:

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ThamnElegans24
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by ThamnElegans24 » June 16th, 2011, 4:13 pm

Reptilist, rockhounding is awesome and it helps get me through the winter.

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USNHM242
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by USNHM242 » June 16th, 2011, 8:42 pm

I agree, those herps can live through a lot pf adverse conditions. Theres a reason they have been around longer then mammals and birds.

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Biker Dave
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Biker Dave » June 20th, 2011, 8:39 pm

I think everyone is forgetting that fire is a normal part of the ecosystem... its just that we as humans have worked so hard to suppress them in recent decades that we get the out of control stuff we see here in AZ. And as such, I think the herps, and other animals know exactly what to do to stay safe (for the most part).

I'm sure there will a few hundred kangaroo rats and mice that will jump out into the fire at the last second and "crispied."

There are still may areas that are not on fire.....so there is still hope.


Dave

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Brandon La Forest
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Brandon La Forest » June 23rd, 2011, 7:42 pm

Hey there Terry im no pessimist! lol I havn't seen one snake this year!

Dave, fires are natural part of the ecosystem, modern fire is a different story all in its own :(

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StrangeCargo
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by StrangeCargo » July 8th, 2011, 3:43 pm

Hey Wayne- Have you heard anything else about any of the mountain ranges? This is the first year my wife is gonna go with me- we're hoping to camp in the Huachucas for a week or so on the SW side. I'm hoping the monsoons will extinguish any remianing fires and the forest service will open back up the Coronado Nat. Forest for camping. I have searched online without much luck to see the status of everything- hoping some of the AZ guys can help us out with an update! Arizona is a wonderful place- I dream of my trip all year long- excited to share it with my wife this year- just sad so much of the mountains burned.

Thanks!
Graham

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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by RAK » July 9th, 2011, 6:28 am

Graham,

LOL, I am just the opposite. This is the first year I am getting to go solo. My trip has been scheduled for the last week in July so I am running up against a deadline. I figure I will find someplace to herp. Home is all but useless, and I am getting worried about the long term effects of the drought here. Anyway The Santa Catalinas have reopened with burn restrictions, and some places in the Chiris are suppose to be partially opened on the 13th.

Rob

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Biker Dave
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Biker Dave » July 9th, 2011, 1:51 pm

So far, from what I have been told, the rain is mainly falling on the plains (no, really!) between the mountains. Keep your eye on the monsoon rainfall. The wetter the forests get the sooner they will re-open.

Dave

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StrangeCargo
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by StrangeCargo » July 9th, 2011, 4:49 pm

Thanks Dave- I'll be praying for monsoon rains for AZ.

Rob- Sounds great. Good luck out there. I'm going to call the ranger station mid month and check on everything.

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Burt Gummer
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Burt Gummer » July 9th, 2011, 10:27 pm

I was told by a nice lady working for the Nogales Ranger District that the plan is to reopen the remaining districts at some point this coming week. Fingers crossed!

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StrangeCargo
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by StrangeCargo » July 10th, 2011, 7:45 am

Thats great news Burt! Thanks for the info.

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Biker Dave
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by Biker Dave » July 11th, 2011, 8:54 pm

That is excellent news!

Hope to see you all out in the field.

Dave

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ratsnakehaven
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by ratsnakehaven » July 20th, 2011, 9:22 am

Hi, Graham. Just got back from MI.

My wife says it's been raining quite a bit the last two weeks, since I've been gone, but I don't think the Santa Ritas are open, yet. I'll check it out in the coming days.

Saw a DBK in the front yard last night coiled and looking for a meal. Hope he got it... haha!

Terry

StrangeCargo wrote:Thanks Dave- I'll be praying for monsoon rains for AZ.

Rob- Sounds great. Good luck out there. I'm going to call the ranger station mid month and check on everything.

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StrangeCargo
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by StrangeCargo » July 23rd, 2011, 4:00 am

ratsnakehaven wrote:Hi, Graham. Just got back from MI.

My wife says it's been raining quite a bit the last two weeks, since I've been gone, but I don't think the Santa Ritas are open, yet. I'll check it out in the coming days.

Saw a DBK in the front yard last night coiled and looking for a meal. Hope he got it... haha!

Terry
Thanks Terry- I called the Sierra Vista Ranger District last week- the locale in the Huachucas I was planning on camping in is back open. He said there may be a few smaller areas burned but for the most part it's ok there. The same I guess can't be said for some other areas of the Huachucas- I believe he mentioned that maybe Carr to Ash canyon were still closed- I could be wrong. Glad the rains have started- my wife and I are really looking forward to the trip (just 12 more days after today!).

I'm gonna take a quick drive into the Cherry-Cows to check out the damage on our way out. My wife wanted to see historic Tombstone so I booked us a night at a bed-n-breakfest there.

I'll get a bunch of pics for the forum! Wish me luck!

Graham

BTW: My pair of DBK's didn't produce thsi year. The female was alittle too young/small- I believe she reasorbed. The male really gave it a good try. I'm in no rush- this was just a fun project of true AZ locality kings...I was just going to give them away to friends...

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ratsnakehaven
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Re: Seeking advice on my SE AZ trip and wildfires

Post by ratsnakehaven » July 24th, 2011, 9:57 pm

Graham, I believe Ramsey Canyon was spared, but I'm not sure about what's open, yet. I heard everything will be open by July 31st.

PS: I'm looking forward to your pics, but please don't give specific locales, such as roads, places in the mtns, etc. I'm sure you know that already though. Thanks...

Terry

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