Silver City, NM July 2, 2012: All has been quiet at the Catwalk National Recreation Trail near Glenwood, New Mexico during the closure from the Whitewater-Baldy Fire. Normally on hot days like the past few, the area would be alive with laughter and family fun as happy picnickers and hikers enjoy the cool atmosphere of the Catwalk area. But due to the fire and potential flooding in Whitewater Creek, the area remains closed.
However on Saturday June 30, activity and noise increased as local contractors—Sycamore Fabrication and Fowler Brothers Construction and Forest Service fire crews began work on dismantling and removing portions of the footbridges that span Whitewater Creek for the Catwalk National Recreation Trail. This project is one of the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) treatments recommended for theWhitewater-Baldy Fire.
“Footbridges are being removed to provide for safety of downstream residents and businesses in the Glenwood area so that debris jams don’t form as flood waters carry debris down through the narrow canyon,” says Glenwood District Ranger, Pat Morrison.
The contractor used cutting torches to cut metal sections of the footbridges into managable pieces and the fire crews carried the pieces out along the narrow trail. ATV’s were used on the lower sections where they could drive and hauled the material the rest of the way to the parking lot.
“It’s a big project, but the crews are making good progress and are working safely. Safety is a big concern, we are watching the weather and assuring that no crews will be caught in the canyon if it begins to rain or flood,” according the BAER Team Leader, Mike Natharius.
It is expected that the work will be completed in the next two days.
Along with the removal of the footbridges, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed the installation of a rain guage and stream flow monitor along the Catwalk in Whitewater Creek. The monitor is part of a system of six monitors being placed within and near the Whitewater-Baldy Fire to aid in early detection and warning of potential flooding.