Devil’s Garden Fires Threaten Hunts

Had a great trip to Modoc to scout for deer. And, we did find some. Take note, they were in a burn.

Burns are a vital ingredient of deer habitat. The fires return the climax forest growth to a new start of the plant succession. Mule deer do best in habitat with young plants that sprout after a fire removes the timber that shades out new growth.

bucks in northeast Devil's Garden

We also witnessed several days of lightning a an accumulation of small wild fires that began to expand.

Upon our return home, we were greeted by a notice of closure of most of the Devil’s Garden for the remainder of the fire season (October 1) See link.

Modoc fire closure order 8-1-17-1

Here’s a map showing the closure area.

Modoc Fire closure map 8-1-17-4

The closure is for northeastern Modoc National Forest in the Devil’s Garden area. Unfortunately, that’s where all the mule deer spend their time on the summer range along with most of the antelope and elk. For deer it’s a no-brainer and I’ve already send a letter in to the License and Revenue Branch requesting a reinstatement of my preference points.

Appeal letter

For antelope and elk it’s not as clear. There are some antelope and elk that hang out in the southern portion of the Garden,in summer, but most of the antelope appear to hang out near Clear Lake Reservoir.

aantelope at Clear Lake DSC_0079

Just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on an opportunity, I contacted Collins Company. Collins Company, AKA Collins Pine. Collins owns owns a large portion of the summer range in northeastern Modoc and has a long track record for providing public access to hunt and camp.

The Collins Forest Manager said, “Find another place to hunt.”

That effectively closed the last potential opportunity for a deer hunt. If my appeal is granted, my preference points will be reinstated and my deer tag forteited.

IMG_3557 burn pano

So, these events are a double-edged sword. While some of the areas scared by fire will produce only junipers and cheat grass, other areas will provide a fresh succession of preferred plant growth that will enhance the habitat of Modoc deer for years to come.

Grass Fire

The fire jumped a road and headed east across our property.

Or should I say Wildlands Fire – sounds bigger.

Never had a fire on our property before, before Friday that is.

Wasn’t sure what to think when our leasee called to say we’d been burned out. All the cattle were safe and moved. Ground fried.

Apparently somebody got a little careless at a nearby day use area and ignited the fire.

I decided to make a trip over on Sunday to see for myself. Everything seemed pretty normal, except the ground was black and anything that burned was gone, including a wood pile that we were expecting the haul to the dump – saved us a couple thousand dollars.

A large wood pile was stacked for hauling. This is what was left after the fire.

The leasee was accurate in her evaluation. About 40 acres of grass remained with about 100 acres burned, somewhere between 25 and 35% of the property. And, a five-acre area of wetland  which refused to burn.

All in all, it wasn’t such a bad thing. Here are a few photos.

On the north boundary a main road stopped the fire.

The burrowing owl nest across the street was unscathed.

A collared dove nest seemed to be in tact.

The fire may have raged for a day, but all is quiet now and we are non-the worse off. In fact, you could say it was a net positive.