The snow survey results are mostly in for the Kern River Basin. It is possible the USFS and NPS will not get these results in by the closing window of April 3. If that data comes in, I don’t see it changing too significantly. However, if it does I’ll update the report. Now back to snow survey results!
Unfortunately it is going to be another hard year for the wilderness. The snow pack for the Kern River sits at 34% of normal. Temperatures continue to warm in the valleys below, which means continual snow melt on the mountains above. Assuming these conditions remain the same throughout the rest of the year, you’ll need to plan accordingly for drier and hotter weather. This means perennial flows and springs will be key spots to refill on water. Earlier season will help out but as we get to mid to late season, that’s where it is likely to become exceptionally dry. Water will be down to minimal levels. Maybe, on the positive side, the insect season will be shorter? Time will tell.
Snow surveys begin in California near the end of December and last until May. Sometimes, on exceptional years, additional surveys will be done for the month of June. Well the December surveys are in for a few basins within the Sierra Nevada. The primary regions are related to the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems. The large amount of rain/snow we received over the last several days is well needed in the persistent drought plaguing California. As of this posting, the snow pack is sitting at 45% of normal for the January 1 survey. If there are no more storms to bring snow, the state will be sitting at 17% of normal for the important April 1 survey. Examining the data shows a few peeks into where these systems are “dumping” the snow.
The snow data is updated monthly at the California Data Exchange Center. Looking at the January 1 survey, most of moisture coming down as snow was in the Sacramento region (74% to 97% of normal). The San Joaquin River system is bringing the state average down due to it’s 48% of normal for this time of year. However, keep in mind this is a preliminary survey. All the snow survey courses up and down the Sierra Nevada for many river systems will be completed in February. Let’s hope for more “wet snow” so the water content is high, which means closer to normal averages.
VALLEJO, Calif., — August 30, 2021. To better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing California wildfire crisis, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of all National Forests in California. This closure will be in effect from Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. through September 17, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. This order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region.
“We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.” Factors that led to this decision include:
By temporarily reducing the numbers of people on national forests, we hope to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped on National Forest System lands during emergency circumstances.
The closure order will also decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time of extremely limited firefighting resources, and enhance firefighter and community safety by limiting exposure that occurs in public evacuation situations, especially as COVID-19 continues to impact human health and strain hospital resources.
Due to state-wide conditions, any new fire starts have the potential for large and rapid fire growth with a high risk to life and property. The Forest Service and our partners are absolutely doing all we can to fight these fires and will continue to do so, but the conditions dictate the need for this region-wide closure order.
Forecasts show that conditions this season are trending the same or worse as we move into late summer and fall.
Although the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what is different is that we are facing: (a) record level fuel and fire conditions; (b) fire behavior that is beyond the norm of our experience and models such as large, quick
runs in the night; (c) significantly limited initial attack resources, suppression resources, and Incident Command Teams to combat new fire starts and new large fires; and (d) no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall. The following persons are exempt from this Order:
Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order), specifically exempting them from this Order.
Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
Persons with a Forest Service special use authorization for an electric transmission line, an oil or gas pipeline, communications site, or any other non-recreation special use.
Commercial recreational special-use permit holders and their customers are not exempt from this Order. However, commercial recreational special-use permit holders, under the terms and conditions of their permit, may access their permit areas to conduct administrative functions and to protect property and related assets. Recreation residence permit holders are not exempt from this Order.
Persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct non- recreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products, or grazing livestock.
Owners or lessees of land, and residents of such private landholdings, to the extent necessary to access their land.
Persons engaged in a business, trade, or occupation are not exempt from the prohibitions listed above, but may use National Forest System roads to the extent necessary to carry out their business, trade, or occupation. More than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across all jurisdictions in California, and the National Wildfire Preparedness Level (PL) has been at PL5 since July 14, 2021, only the third time in the past 20 years that the nation has reached PL 5 by mid-July – indicating the highest level of wildland fire activity.
The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this extreme public safety and fire threat. Citizens with specific questions within their area should consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.
The Sherman Pass Road and Cherry Hill Roads are open! Enjoy the 2021 access to the Domeland Wilderness! With the drought conditions, plan accordingly as many of the creeks may not be flowing this year.
Although many of the sites were not surveyed this month, what little is there shows bad news for the Kern River Basin. As of the May 1 survey date, the Kern River is at 0%. If we look at the US Forest Service snow monitor for California, which does use snow survey data and remote sensing by NOAA, you can see there really is not large masses of snow in the Kern River Basin. It is a dry year and reports of Giant Sequoias still smoldering from the SQF Complex in 2020 shows how dry it really is out there. Plan accordingly this summer and be water wise!
Results are mostly in for the Kern River Basin. Unfortunately they are not good. Most of the snow surveys have reported in giving a 44% of normal for this time of year. Many are hoping for a “Miracle March” and with a storm potentially coming up this weekend and into next week, maybe it will be a start to achieving that Miracle March. Time will tell.
The first snow survey results are in for February 1. Unfortunately it does not look good right now for the wilderness. Snow survey results discovered the area to be at 39% of normal. However, February and March are typically the “wettest” months in California for this area. March 1 and April 1 surveys will be important to seeing what kind of summer the wilderness will be experiencing.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you made the best of 2020 as much as you possibly could. The 2021 “hiking season” will soon be upon us. As such with a new year comes many new things in various parts of our lives. In respect to the website, there is a new way to communicate using Tapatalk’s forums. I have created a group there called Southern Sierra Wilderness.
The forums will be a new way for the community here to engage. By default the forums are closed to public viewing, meaning you need to join. Membership is completely free and there are several options for you to choose from in order to gain access. I believe it will also be a way for users to better share their adventures and photos of their trips, ask for advice, and general communications about the wilderness. I hope you find it helpful and I look forward to interacting with everyone.
Ready to get started? Simply click the link below to join in! Hope to chat with you soon.
Zachary headed out into the Domeland Wilderness for a bit. Here is what he had to report on the trail conditions.
Trail from Big meadow to Manter meadows does not seem to be maintained but is easily followable due to semi consistent use. Once, at Manter meadow, the trail towards church dome is very overgrown and hard to proceed. Although the manter creek trail to little manter meadow is not on many maps, it sees semi consistent traffic and therefore, the trail is followable. The manter creek trail is followable until the descent into Rockhouse meadow where the trail ultimately disappears and it becomes a bushwhack until you reach the meadow. Same goes for the rockhouse meadow to domeland trail. No trail here and sparse blazes to follow. No trail until under Bart Dome. From Bart Dome to Manter meadows there is again a followable trail that sees semi consistent use.