|Thursday, Aug 26, 2010|
The park has been closed to the public until further notice due to visitor safety and resources management concerns stemming from the 327,852-acre Long Butte Fire. The fire was sparked by a lightning strike 35 miles south of Glenns Ferry on Saturday, August 21st. A Type 2 IMT is managing suppression operations. “Safety is our number one priority,” said Superintendent Wendy Janssen. “The fire has burned at least 75% of the monument’s 4,351 acres and caused numerous threats to visitor safety – several downed power lines, still smoldering ‘hot spots,’ and damaged trails, to name but a few.” The monument’s paleontology, cultural resources management, and maintenance staffs, assisted by other National Park Service staff from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise and the Pacific West Regional Offices in Oakland and Seattle, have begun to assess the various safety risks, resource impacts, and damage to infrastructure. According to a preliminary assessment, the fire spared the Hagerman Horse Quarry, a National Natural Landmark and one of the six most important sites in the world regarding the fossil history of the horse. Other paleontological sites and sections of the Oregon Trail were burned, and until visitor safety and resource protection can be assured, the monument will remain closed. “We are working to reopen sections of the monument as soon as possible, once we have addressed these concerns, based upon proper risk analyses and sound science,” said Janssen. The monument’s visitor center, with exhibits, an introductory film, information and bookstore, remains open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The visitor center is located in downtown Hagerman.