the fire and the trout

whitewater baldy is the highest peak in the Mogollon mountains in the Gila National Forest. actually it’s the highest peak in all of southwest new mexico. it is mostly made up of volcanic material and is part of the datil-mogollon volcanic plateau that formed between 40 and 25 million years ago. it is drained on the west side by whitewater creek and on the east side by iron creek.

on may 9th the baldy fire started to rage, then on the 16th about 10 miles northwest of the baldy fire the whitewater fire started up. both fires were due to lightning and burned separately for about a week before combining their strength to create the largest wildfire in new mexico’s history. over 270,000 acres burnt.

wild fires are healthy. the piñon-juniper and ponderosa pine need to burn periodically. low-intensity fires help to thin out the forest by creating gaps in the canopy bringing sunlight and nutrients to the floor where wild flowers and grasses will be much appreciative, the surviving trees will become more resilient, and the risk of an out-of-control blaze decreases. high-intensity fires sterilize the landscape and create a lot of sediment and ash that will choke out the streams when the summer rains come. the whitewater baldy fire takes the form of the latter.

the gila trout is the only threatened species of trout in the united states. the trout’s status shifted to threatened from endangered in 2006 thanks to the efforts of the game and fish departments of new mexico and arizona. this fire is causing troubles for the gila trout. summer rains will lift all of the sediment and ash caused by the fire and ferry it into the streams creating an unlivable environment for the fish.

the new mexico chapter of Trout Unlimited has launched a major relocation effort of the gila trout. biologists are using electroshock devices to stun the trout temporarily so that they can be scooped out of the rivers with nets and the taken to a stream in arizona.

100% of the proceedes from this skein of yarn will go towards the efforts of the new mexico chapter of Trout Unlimited for their care, kindness and respect for the gila trout.

this yarn can be purchased here.

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