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For the second time in less than 24 months a downed power line dramatically changed the best=laid plans of the Valles Caldera Trust (the trust). The Thompson Ridge Fire of 2013 burned more than 23,000 acres of the Valles Caldera National Preserve less than two years after the 2011 Las Conchas Fire scorched 30,000 acres. Both fires figure prominently in the trust’s Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2013.
The 2013 Annual Report to Congress (RTC) details how post-fire flooding destroyed the preserve headquarters’ drinking water collection system, and prevented use of the buildings for overnight activities on the preserve last summer. Preservation actions implemented by the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team managed to prevent floods from damaging the historic structures. Defensive measures will continue in 2014.
Summer flash floods through the Las Conchas Fire burn scar impacted both the natural resources and the business future of the trust. Floodwaters damaged and closed transportation arteries on the preserve and reduced tourist access. Despite the fire’s impacts, visitation exceeded 98,000 people in 2013, which was 12,000 less than in 2012.
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