Sarvis Creek Trail reopens after fire

Dangerous snags keep 2 paths closed

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The Sarvis Creek Wilderness southeast of Steamboat Springs reopened for public recreation Monday, but one trail that was burned over by the Green Creek fire last month remains closed.

"The Green Creek fire is not out, but there is very little potential for it to grow because of our containment actions and natural barriers," said Tom Florich of the U.S. Forest Service. He is the acting Yampa District Ranger.

The wilderness area was closed for public safety two weeks ago as a result of the fire which has burned about 2,400 acres.

Florich said the Routt Divide Trail 1108, which runs roughly north/south in the Buffalo Park area remains closed while crews fell trees that were weakened by the fire.

"There are still a lot of snags dead standing trees that can fall over at any time and we don't want people getting hurt," Florich said.

The Yampa District's John Anarella said Monday that two other trails, Sarvis Creek Trail 1105 and Silver Creek Trail 1106, are open for public use, and hikers probably won't notice the effects of fire while walking there.

"They might see a little on top of the ridge," Anarella said. "There's a little heat up in the rocks above Sarvis Creek, but it's about a mile off the trail."

Anarella said wilderness travelers are being urged not to wander off the Sarvis Creek Trail. Typically, only hunters would venture off the trail in that area anyway, he added.

While it's too early to fully assess the impact of the fire on wildlife, Anarella said he is seeing just as much evidence of elk beds in the grass as he did before the fire. And already, Anarella said, there is grass re-sprouting in some of the burned areas.

Forest Service officials are also concerned about fire-damaged trees posing a threat to hikers in the Flattops, further south of Steamboat.

There are no trail closures associated with the Big Fish fire. However, 5 miles to the north, at the Lost Lakes fire, Forest Service crews were expected to begin dropping dead snags along the East Lost Lakes Trail 1116 today, Linn Pettijohn said. He is acting district ranger in the Blanco Ranger District based in Meeker.

Pettijohn asked hikers to avoid East Lost Lake Trail, which links the Devil's Causeway with Trappers Lake, for a short while yet. He predicted the trail cleanup work would progress quickly.

The Lost Lakes fire started July 13 and has burned 1,650 acres. The fire is 20 miles southeast of Yampa and still isn't out.

Mike Frary of the Blanco District said both the Big Fish and Lost Lakes fires will be allowed to burn as long as they remain within a pre-defined area determined by the White River National Forest's wildland fire plan. The fires are burning downed timber that fell victim to past beetle kills.

"Although fire behavior is quiet, these fires are not out," Frary said. "We know that fire is an important component of a healthy forest. Not allowing fire to play its role in the ecosystem leads to disease and insect infestations."

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