Saturday, January 28, 2023

Flood threat eases

by By Larry Wilson
| June 22, 2022 6:45 AM

It looks like we may have escaped the main danger of a spring flood. While Red Lodge and Yellowstone Park had major damage from flooding we only had minor flooding and no real damage that I know of.

Parts of Blankenship Road were closed briefly and a shallow stream crossed the North Fork Road at Blankenship Junction. What looked like an artesian well shot water into the air alongside the North Fork Road on Friday that was barely bubbling by Friday night and dry by Saturday. I was told it was the result of a clogged culvert. Whatever, it was strange to see.

At Polebridge, the Hostel sometimes sits on an island but not this time. Oliver did not have to bring his canoe out of storage.

Nevertheless, there is still a lot of snow in the high country so a major rain event and warm weather could still cause problems. As I write this on Monday morning it is raining hard and although it is chill today, warm weather is forecast starting on Tuesday. Since my cabin is a mile from the river as well as higher I will not be flooded, but folks along the river should still keep their fingers crossed.

It seems a bit odd. But earlier in the week the Fire Mitigation Committee hosted a field trip to look at what happened in the Red Bench and Wedge Canyon fire footprints since those fires swept through the area. Since Red Bench, a lot of thinning has been done to encourage fire to stay on the ground and avoid crown fires. Planting well spaced fire resistant trees can be a major aid around buildings.

Since lodgepole pine is the cover crop that follows a stand replacement fire it is vital that these trees be thinned to avoid dog hair that can support a fast moving crown fire that can throw hot embers up to a mile ahead of the main fire.

Preparing for and mitigating what a fire can do is an ongoing task. Every year it is important to inspect your buildings, remove piles of needles, maintain tree spacing and remove dead trees and fallen branches.

All of this will reduce the chance of losing your cabin in a wildfire, but does not guarantee its survival. You might also spend some time making a list of what to remove in case of an evacuation. Family members and pets are automatic top priorities, but how about family treasures, legal documents, guns, photos. Etc. Having a plan and a list can make an evacuation much easier. Decide in advance whether you will stay or go. If you go, how far and where? Also, if you go, do it when you can get out safely without driving through fire.

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