Anyone that has ever been on the mountain with me, knows how I feel about campfires on the range. I DO NOT LIKE THEM, AND I DO NOT THINK THERE SHOULD BE ANY ALLOWED.
My reasons are simple:
1. This is the horses range, we are just visitors in their space.
2. The horses are fenced in.
3. There are many dead trees on the range.
4. Water sources are limited on the range to extinguish fires.
5. The winds on the mountain are often strong and unpredictable.
There are many other reasons, but those are my top 5. Feel free to make comments and add to the list above.
I arrived on the mountain early Monday morning, relieved that my usual campsite was available. It was immediately apparent that someone had camped there since I last was there a week before. My good friend Anh was on the mountain on Friday ( July 19) and said she witnessed a person at my campsite with a fire burning. Anh is a very caring and wonderful friend, one who does not hesitate to do what she can for the horses. She immediately walked up to this person and voiced her concerns. (and took photos).
There never used to be a fire ring on this site (hand made with rocks) until this year. I felt that this ring had been made in a very dangerous place. Let me explain.
My husband Bill and I live in a wooded area in Western Montana. For the last 3 years we have received a grant to thin trees to make our land safer from wild fire. We have spent many months over the past 3 years burning and thinning, so I have had my share of personal fire management and I am pretty good at determining where it is safe to stack a pile and burn. I am not new to fire or am I afraid of it. But I have become a fanatic for safety regarding it. Every year I hear of a wild fire that was caused by human means and most involve a campfire. Thousand of acres every year are lost due to human carelessness.
We set up camp and went to find horses. This trip was different from my others this year. The only horses we saw by us was Doc and Band and Garcia and Band. I will share more about our hiking adventures and new discoveries soon. I made new life long friends and experienced many new things on the range this trip.
After spending several hours hiking we came back to camp. I immediately smelled smoke. Running to the fire ring I saw that it had spread a few feet under a nearby tree. Within feet of that was a large dead tree that had fallen down.
I bring a huge amount of water with me. Much more than I know we can possibly use. Even though I had almost 50 gallons of water with me, it would not have been enough to put this fire out if it had spread to the dead tree. We immediately dumped over 20 gallons on it and dug up around the tree.
I then called Jared and Don and left messages.
During the course of the next few days, we put more than 30 gallons of our water on this campfire ring and surrounding area. It still seemed warm in spots.
After contacting Jim Sparks,( who told me that fires can spring up even after 4 months), I received a call from a BLM fire personal. After explaining the actions of the fire, he concluded they should send up a fire crew to check it out more thoroughly. I was very happy to hear that, as I was hesitant to leave the mountain without more water on this spot.
As we were leaving the mountain Wednesday afternoon, I ran into the fire crew coming up. I had tied a marker on a branch to mark the spot for them. They were very appreciative of my actions regarding this fire and assured me that they would take care of it. It was possible that this fire was deep into the dry tuff on the ground and they may have to cut down the tree and dig a huge hole to get rid of it deep underground. My campsite will most likely look very different when I returned to it. This saddened me, all caused by human carelessness. All of this could have been prevented if there were no campfires allowed on the range.
I am thankful that we were there when it sparked up. I shudder to think about what could have occurred had we not been there. Worse case: the entire range and lives of horses could have been taken.
I urge you to join me in asking that all campfires be banded on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range.
You can contact Jim Sparks or Jared Bybee either by email or phone. Click here for contact information: