|This church on the road to the Pecos River in the Santa Fe National Forest is a familiar sight to those heading into the canyon to fish and camp.|
“But it could have been a whole lot worse,” said Richard Hansen, Cold Water Fisheries Biologist for the state Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) while inspecting the river at the department’s Mora recreation area last week. “The upper canyon is in pretty good shape so we’re stocking here again.”
|Richard Hansen NMDGF Cold Water Fisheries Biologist.|
The Jarosa Fire deep within the Pecos Wilderness also burned for weeks in the upper Pecos River watershed before it too could be brought to bear.
Then heavy summer rains brought on the floods sending torrents of unchecked water pushing rocks and burned timber down scorched hillsides and into the river on the canyon floor.
|A washed out gully shows where runoff swept off the scorched mountainside and flooded out Brush Ranch.|
But even now a good portion of the lower rivers remains off limits until the threat of monsoon related flooding subsides.
“It’s just too dangerous,” says Steve Romero, Pecos & Las Vegas District Ranger for the Santa Fe National Forest. “We’ll be patrolling these areas and issuing citations if necessary.”
Visitors to the canyon north of the village of Pecos will find US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas closed along an estimated 13-mile stretch of river between the town of Pecos and the village of Tererro.
|A burned mountainside above the village of Terrero poses a threat for flooding until vegetation can take hold in the wake of Tres Lagunas fire.|
These areas are scheduled to remain closed until September 30 but could reopen sooner if conditions warrant, Romero said.
The NMDGF’s two camping and fishing areas in the burn area, Bert Clancy and Terrero, will remain closed also.
But the upper stretch of the Pecos River above Tererro is back open along with about six miles of river.
|Kenneth Erickson, 36, of the state Department of Game and Fish's Lisboa Springs Fish Hatchery on the Pecos River empties a net full of nine-inch trout into the river at the department's Mora recreation area last week.|
And in the surrounding national forest, visitors will still find Forest Road 305 and the Panchuela Campground closed, but Cowles, Jack’s Creek and Iron Gate campgrounds are open along with dispersed camping in the Davis Willow area.
For more details consult the Santa Fe National Forest webpages at http://www.fs.usda.gov.
|State Department of Game and Fish workers will be stocking fish regularly in the upper canyon of the Pecos River now that it's been reopened to the public.|
“We were the bull’s eye,” said Bob Ingersol of the post fire mud slides that racked the resort, destroyed its fishing pond, buried habitat improvements in the river and killed many of their stocked trout. “Seeing all those beautiful fish suffocate and die just killed me.”
|Josh Ingersol, Assistant Manager at Brush Ranch on the Pecos Rivers shows where tons of mud completely silted in what had been the ranch's showcase fishing hole at the entrance to the resort.|
Check out the resort’s website at http://www.brushranchnm.com/ to see remarkable photos of the flood damage.
|Josh Ingersol stands in what had once been Brush Ranch's popular fishing pond stocked with monster trout. Flooding from the Tres Lagunas fire blew out the pond and washed away the fish.|
“The Jemez looked about a 1,000 times worst after the Las Conchas Fire but somehow fish survived there,” he said.
The Las Conchas Fire of June 2011, also started by a downed power line, burned over 150,000 acres in and around the Jemez Mountains before it could be snuffed about a month later.
Hansen said he found insect life still present in the riverbed below Brush Ranch and even saw a couple of rising fish still in the water.
“In general it looks much better than I had been expecting to find,” he noted.
|Stocked trout in the Pecos River mingle before spreading out in the clear waters of the upper canyon.|
|An angler on the River in the Pecos National Historical Park before the Tres Lagunas fire.|
“We just can’t chance having people down on the river in the event of a flash flood,” he said.
|The road to Holy Ghost campground and summer homes remains closed until the threat of floods subsides while popular fishing areas below Terrero remained off limits too.|
“We lost a lot of the tourist trade because of that closure,” said Ivan Valdez, Lead Guide and Assistant Manager at the Reel Life Fly Shop in Santa Fe. “And it’s been for months now and the season is winding down.”
Valdez said fishing in the upper canyon above Tererro is still “pretty sweet” but he expects that competition between guides and their clients and the rest of the fishing public will only get worse.
“It’s going to get real crowded up in there,” he said.
|The ever popular Pecos River is loved to death by many seeking fishing and camping in the cool pines near Santa Fe.|
If You Go: From Santa Fe take I-25 towards Las Vegas and take the Pecos exit into town. Head north on State Road 63 for about 13 miles to Tererro and then continue into the open areas.
|Josh Ingersol hopes to see Brush Ranch cleaned up and open for business again by next season.|