Bandelier National Monument Back In Business After Fires, But Only To A Limited Extent

The good news is that Bandelier National Monument is back to welcoming visitors after dealing with wildfires. That bad news is that those fires left the landscape prone to flooding, and with the monsoon season approaching, authorities are concerned about flooding in Frijoles Canyon.

Park officials say they were able to open some areas of the monument to visitors last Friday following nearly three weeks of being closed due to the Las Conchas Fire, which started back on June 26th.

Areas that opened last Friday were the Tsankawi Unit, Juniper Campground and Amphitheater, Overlook Trail, and Burnt Mesa Trail, park officials said in a release. The remainder of the monument is still closed in the aftermath of the fire, which burned 20,800 acres of Bandelier.

"The severity of the fire resulted in a loss of vegetation that provides soil stabilization and caused a water-repellent condition in the soil. With the monsoon season beginning, these conditions could lead to devastating floods in Frijoles Canyon, where the park’s visitor center, administrative offices, and a large number of cultural and historic sites are located," the release added.

"Diversion dikes, waterproof barriers and sandbags have been installed to mitigate the potential damage from flooding. The decision to implement flood mitigation measures, remove bridges, and close the facilities in Frijoles Canyon was validated by a recent flood in a nearby canyon that resulted in numerous mud flows containing rocks and woody debris that reached a height of 6 feet on standing trees."