Ramsey Canyon Preserve, nestled in the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista, will reopen on Saturday, July 16 after narrowly escaping the Monument Fire.
For years, The Nature Conservancy has been preparing for fire in Ramsey Canyon. The Monument Fire brought that possibility to the preserve’s doorstep last month. Fire crews were able to get around it before it pushed into Ramsey Canyon. A tremendous effort prevented the fire from burning the canyon, neighborhoods below the preserve, forests above the preserve, Brown Canyon and the canyons of Fort Huachuca.
The Nature Conservancy’s reaction is one of reserved relief. We know that someday fire will again threaten Ramsey Canyon Preserve and we will work to make it happen on our terms, without affecting nearby neighborhoods. Our hearts go out to all who suffered losses because of the fire.
The Nature Conservancy has been thinning to reduce fuels on the preserve for years. The work is aimed at protecting the gallery of Arizona sycamores in the canyon bottom and decreasing tree densities to healthier levels. In the thickest areas we kept the biggest trees and cut about half of the smaller ones, leaving a mixture of species and sizes. The goal is to create clumps and openings that mimic the natural pattern. Conservancy staff worked alongside Forest Service workers during the Monument Fire to complete additional thinning.
Under pre-20th-century fire regimes, the “fine fuels” on the ground would have carried low or moderate-intensity fires that kept the forests and woodlands more open. Fire suppression brought us overly woody, closed forests. Newly thinning areas are once again becoming home to native grasses and other understory plants that were the fire’s carriers of the past.
After a month’s closure, Ramsey Canyon Preserve will reopen to the public on Saturday, July 16 at 8:00 a.m. Three inches of rain have fallen in the area, providing an adequate comfort level relative to fire danger. While the Coronado National Forest remains closed, visitors will have access only to the bottom of the canyon, but not to the Hamburg Trail.
The preserve is open Thursday-Monday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Guided walks are scheduled on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9 a.m. A week-long pass costs $5.00, $3.00 for Cochise County residents and Conservancy members and is free of charge for children under 16.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
Media Relations Specialist