For Immediate Use                                                                                               Contact: Alison Sheehey, (760) 378-2531
July 20, 2008                                                                                                                               rtollefson@audubon.org

Kelso Creek Sanctuary

Piute Fire Affects Small Wildlife Preserve

Audubon owns on a small sanctuary along Kelso Creek. Purchased in 2000 to protect the riparian habitat within the sanctuary, the loss of upland habitat recently makes the upland portions equally as important. The sanctuary is only 156 acres in size. The sanctuary is an interesting blend of Mojave and Great Basin Desert flora that offers a really unique vista.

On Saturday, June 28th a human caused fire was started about a mile south of Piute Peak in the Piute Mountains. Staff at the Kern River Preserve worked closely with fire department officials to protect the riparian area. The fire never did reach the sanctuary, but thanks to some wicked thunderstorms that dumped lots of rain, there was some major damage to several creekside habitats throughout the Kern and Kelso Valleys. Early in the fire's progression the BLM cut a fire line on the western edge of the sanctuary with Audubon's blessing. On July 17th, BLM crews along with assistance of KRP employees Matt Reiter and Jeff King restored much of the fire break. The photos are of various stages in the fires progression. sunset on July 6th, some of the aftermath from four days of flash floods and the rehabilitation work on July 17th. The fire was declared contained and the fire camp was completed dismantled on July 18th. All that is left now is significant rehabilitation work. Click on the photos for a larger image. Click here to visit the Kern County Fire Department website to find extensive information and maps on the fire

Looking west toward the Kelso Creek Sanctuary the defensive fire line was very evident.

Photo courtesy Alison Sheehey Audubon

The Kelso Creek Sanctuary is 15 miles from the Kern River Preserve. This photo was taken above the riparian forest on the sanctuary's desert slope.

Photo courtesy Alison Sheehey Audubon

The beauty of this scene belied the deep threat to the sanctuary. The entire northern half of the Piute Mountains was completely destroyed by a very bad person setting the fire. Photo courtesy Alison Sheehey Audubon

Looking north from the Kelso Creek Sanctuary this house is shrouded in a thick blanket of smoke.

Photo courtesy Alison Sheehey Audubon

This fire line was going to be the last line of defense, fortunately nature put the fire out before it reached the sanctuary.

Photo courtesy Matt Reiter Audubon

The BLM had their archeologist Don Storm (who is a Friend of the Kern River Preserve) walk before the bulldozer and again with the rehab crew to make sure no archeological artifacts were disturbed.

Photo courtesy Matt Reiter Audubon

On July 17th, COBRA, a Forest Service Contract Crew from Porterville, rehabilitated the fire line they constructed across the western boundary of the Kelso Creek Sanctuary.

Photo courtesy Matt Reiter Audubon

About 1/4 mile had to be repaired along the western boundary of the Kelso Creek Sanctuary.

Photo courtesy Matt Reiter Audubon

Kelso Creek Sanctuary Bird Checklist     Piute Fire photos     Flora Kelso Creek Sanctuary     Kelso Creek Sanctuary Purchase     Audubon California protects Kelso Creek Watershed     Audubon Brightstar Wilderness Addition

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