Assessing Wildfire Damage To Beloved Lamoille Canyon

Oct 18, 2018

Over the weekend, more than 3,200 Nevadans got their first look at the damage caused by a wildfire that blackened one of Nevada's most popular recreation areas in the Ruby Mountains. KUNR's Danna O' Connor has more.

Naaman Horn is the Fire Information Officer for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. He spent the weekend directing traffic on the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway 20 miles outside of Elko. Officials were allowing vehicle-only tours through the canyon after the Range Two Fire burned through the area on September 30th. 

"Yeah, we had about 9,000 acres burned," Horn said, "and it looks pretty typical to a lot of the fires you see around here. There are a handful of patches of fall foilage left over, but there's also a lot of black on the ground."

Horn says hundreds of Aspen, Mountain Mahogany and Cottonwood trees were destroyed in the canyon and the sight left many of the locals heartbroken.

"You know, a lot of people are emotional. You know, we have a lot of people who are pretty sad driving through here. They have long ties to this area, family connections, people who've been married here. The Boy Scouts camp which is now owned by the Lions Club--that's one of the places where we lost a couple of structures."

Horn says the trees will take years to re-grow, but the land is resilient and the grasses will come back fairly quickly. The Forest Service will send out a Burned Area Response Team to access the damage.

"We have soil scientists and geologists and hydrologiests and engineers, and a variety of other folks," Horn explained. "And they analyze the area, assess it for both resource damages and also potential threats and hazards to people in the area."

The team will then develop a plan to restore the area. Volunteers will be part of that plan. Horn says the Elko Lions Club is already signing up people to rebuild historic Camp Lamoille.