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Table Mountain Star Party, Washington

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#1 cliff mygatt

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:20 PM

I am saddened to report that the location of TMSP has been burned! I am told the trees in the center of the meadow survived! The TMSP website has more details! The TMSP board will head up and evaluate the site as soon as the roads are open :(

#2 zerro1

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:26 PM

that "is" very sad...

#3 rainycityastro

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:22 AM

Oh,no! This is indeed quite sad.

#4 zerro1

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:46 AM

based on the map the lion rock campground is fire central and it covers the entire area surrounding it.

http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3269/

#5 Stacy

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:11 AM

Hard to be upset. Fire is as natural to a forest as wind and rain. Nature will eventually replenish anything that is lost.

#6 zerro1

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:32 AM

for future generations. not in my lifetime

#7 DarkSkys

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 03:05 AM

Atleast the tree's in the middle of the feild survived. Sucks, it was pretty up there.

I did notice how many dead tree's you could see in the woods when I was up there a few years ago. Hopefully the forrest will comback healthy and strong after this.

#8 cliff mygatt

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 08:15 AM

Last time I was at Table I saw the same thing as DarkSkys, deadwood everywhere. It was bound to happen with all the fuel. Just sorry to see it go up in smoke. TMSPA has been making noises about moving to another location because the Ellensburg light dome is getting problematic. We will see what the future holds.

#9 Stacy

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:43 AM

In many situations, fighting forest fires can be extremely detrimental to the natural forest ecosystem.

Natural forest fires, sparked by lightning for example, serve to clear out a lot of underbrush. These fires burn fast and sweep through the forest quickly, doing minimal "damage" and allowing certain plants and animals to thrive. Most trees will survive this type of fire and they can actually be a benefit by opening cones and allowing more sunlight to get to the floor to feed the new saplings. The natural mosaic patterns created serve a much broader ecosystem.

When an area is "protected" from fire, the underbrush accumulates over many years. It chokes off many plants and animals and creates a thick tangle that when it finally does catch fire, burns EXTREMELY hot, charring everything and killing many, many more trees.

So many houses being built in dry forest areas prone to fire, and the people who choose to live there, is the bigger problem in my opinion. However, controlled burns and other measures can reduce the instance of a "killer" fire. Pretty basic stuff. Table Mountain on fire is Table Mountain doing what it's supposed to do. Nature WILL have it's way eventually. :)

#10 Stacy

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:36 PM

Love this place....

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#11 DarkSkys

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 05:27 PM

In many situations, fighting forest fires can be extremely detrimental to the natural forest ecosystem.

Natural forest fires, sparked by lightning for example, serve to clear out a lot of underbrush. These fires burn fast and sweep through the forest quickly, doing minimal "damage" and allowing certain plants and animals to thrive. Most trees will survive this type of fire and they can actually be a benefit by opening cones and allowing more sunlight to get to the floor to feed the new saplings. The natural mosaic patterns created serve a much broader ecosystem.

When an area is "protected" from fire, the underbrush accumulates over many years. It chokes off many plants and animals and creates a thick tangle that when it finally does catch fire, burns EXTREMELY hot, charring everything and killing many, many more trees.

So many houses being built in dry forest areas prone to fire, and the people who choose to live there, is the bigger problem in my opinion. However, controlled burns and other measures can reduce the instance of a "killer" fire. Pretty basic stuff. Table Mountain on fire is Table Mountain doing what it's supposed to do. Nature WILL have it's way eventually. :)


Theres acutaly quite a few houses i've seen built that would be impossible to burn. The big problem is the expence and getting people to build them.

The "concrete log" cabins's i've seen and read about, as long as they have the right kind of metal roof, are almost impervious to fire's.
I'd build one if I find myself liveing in the woods.

#12 MadHungarian

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 05:49 PM

There's actually quite a few houses i've seen built that would be impossible to burn. The big problem is the expense and getting people to build them.

The "concrete log" cabins i've seen and read about, as long as they have the right kind of metal roof, are almost impervious to fire's.
I'd build one if I find myself living in the woods.


But it'd seem to me there's a good chance of the thing turning into a Dutch Oven for the unfortunate occupants inside?

#13 zerro1

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 07:47 PM

Love this place....

may only be a fond memory now...

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#14 Rich

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 03:36 AM

I drove up last Saturday for new moon time. Was hoping the Wenatchee complex would be blowing east enough to make Table usable. Stopped in Cle Elum and heard about the Liberty fire... drove out 97 a ways and quickly saw that smoke was blowing east right up over Table from 3 smaller fires. I drove around some to see the effects of the Taylor Bridge fire, including seeing the bridge itself. Amazing how the fires can torch one area and leave sections around green and happy.

Well I guess now those Liberty area fires have spread big time and the whole area around Table is under seige. We can only hope that some areas may be left less damaged.

I do agree that fires are natural and can even enhance the forest, but a major one where we like to congregate will likely impact it for years to come and may make it uninhabitable. I've certainly noticed that the forest up there has not looked healthy, and of course growth is very slow at 6400 ft elevation so it could be a prolonged regrowth time.

#15 csa/montana

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 10:01 AM

I am saddened to report that the location of TMSP has been burned! I am told the trees in the center of the meadow survived! The TMSP website has more details! The TMSP board will head up and evaluate the site as soon as the roads are open :(


I've always heard about this great location, and am saddened about the fire. This has been a terrible fire season. I've not viewed for a couple of months because of the smoke from (now) 28 ongoing wildfires in Montana.

I've been very fortunate to drive thru & visit many of the Wa. areas most of you live in.

#16 bper

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 01:56 PM

This is a terrible tragedy. I started going to Table Mtn in 1982 and have attended many of the star parties from the small early ones upto the bigger ones. I have more recently attended the Orion Nebula Star Parties at the Table Mtn site held in September and we were all packed and ready to go for this new Moon when all hell broke loose.

For anyone interested, here are a couple of links that have not appeared yet. Click on the Interactive Fire Map to get the latest. It does not look good at all, but I won't speculate. Click the + on the map and look for NF-3400-124 Rd. This is the road that goes by the TMSP site to Lions Rock.

http://www.co.kittit...ire/default.asp

The second link is to an article this morning in our local paper online. Be sure to view the slideshow of 10 pictures mostly of Table mtn.

http://www.yakima-he...ly-12-000-acres

I don't know how this is all going to shake out in a week or two, but it does not look good at this time. The last time I was at the Table mtn site was a year ago and we had planned to go for new Moon August, but the Taylor Bridge fire had all the roads closed to it and now this fire in September. Yakima has been smoked in for two weeks now - Bruce

#17 Gregg Lobdell

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 02:34 PM

Based on the latest maps, it would appear that the meadow and all the trees have been burned. See the 9/20/2012 map on the kittitas.wa.us site that bper posted, and also at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3269/ that zerro1 posted above.

Yes this is sad, but it is natural. From an astronomer's perspective, this will improve the horizon view lines, though that may include more skyglow. Depending on how the re-growth happens, it may be possible to use the very top of Table Mountain for observing in addition to the traditional meadow just to the south of the high point. On the downside, it was always nice to be able to set up in the shade of the trees on the meadow.

Meadow grass grows back much faster than trees. It's been several years since I drove up to Table Mountain, but the last time I did, the low scrub sagebrush was becoming a problem. Hopefully this fire burns out the sagebrush and encourages the grasses.

I live in western Washington, and we can see the smoke plumes from the fires about 70 miles away.

#18 Jack Day

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:29 PM

Hi all,

Living in Wenatchee, WA and being the program director for the Student Telescope Making Program at TMSP I also have been following these events closely. Bits of TM are falling on the ground outside my window as I write this. I have been going up to Table Mountain since 1985, this is a very sad time for myself, the other directors at TMSP and I know it has been VERY tough on Thom Jenkins. I don't know what TMSP will look like next year, but I am sure it will be memorable. I would guess from folks I have spoken with that the mountain may remain closed until next spring. Hopefully once the fires are out we can at least get a better idea of the impact on the site. This is one time I would ask everyone to pray for rain... :(

Clear skies,

Jack Day

#19 DarkSkys

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:52 PM

Based on the latest maps, it would appear that the meadow and all the trees have been burned. See the 9/20/2012 map on the kittitas.wa.us site that bper posted, and also at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3269/ that zerro1 posted above.

Yes this is sad, but it is natural. From an astronomer's perspective, this will improve the horizon view lines, though that may include more skyglow. Depending on how the re-growth happens, it may be possible to use the very top of Table Mountain for observing in addition to the traditional meadow just to the south of the high point. On the downside, it was always nice to be able to set up in the shade of the trees on the meadow.

Meadow grass grows back much faster than trees. It's been several years since I drove up to Table Mountain, but the last time I did, the low scrub sagebrush was becoming a problem. Hopefully this fire burns out the sagebrush and encourages the grasses.

I live in western Washington, and we can see the smoke plumes from the fires about 70 miles away.


Though i'm not sure if they ( the forrest service) will allow anyone up there after the fire goes out.

I hope we get some rain soon. The fire fighters had said the fire could burn for weeks if we don't get a good rainstorm. I hope liberty is spared.

#20 square_peg

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 12:35 AM

I drove by on I-90 yesterday. Table Mtn. reminded me of the Mt. St. Helens eruption. The plume reached 40,000'. Dark smoke was billowing up off the mountain in several places. Lighter smoke was coming up everywhere. I knew just from driving by that the observing area was toast.

Just sad, sad, sad.

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#21 square_peg

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 12:53 AM

My brother got evacuated from his home a few days ago. The current map shows his home in the 'burned' zone but his answering machine picked up so the house is still there. I reached him on his cell phone and he told me that the fire fighters made a line around his house and saved it. They stopped that fire at the road 100 yards below his house. He'll be OK so long as the Peavine Fire doesn't come down his way.

:fingerscrossed: :fingerscrossed: :fingerscrossed: :fingerscrossed: :fingerscrossed:

#22 DarkSkys

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 04:26 AM

I'm going to go talk to the Rangers at the ranger station in naches today. I read some talk on the web of a fire on American Ridge up by bumping. Thats just across the Bumping river road from my grandparents cabin.

#23 Dragonwatcher

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 12:11 PM

Tom,

Glad your brother one of the lucky ones.

#24 vsteblina

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 05:10 PM

Here is a picture of the Table Mountain Fire when it blew up and the plume went to 42000 feet.

http://inciweb.org/i...tograph/3269/0/

Forest fires are natural events, but so are earthquakes and hurricanes.

#25 David Back

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 10:13 AM

TMSPA has been making noises about moving to another location because the Ellensburg light dome is getting problematic. We will see what the future holds.


I hope they do decide to move. The meadow was a beautiful spot, and I am saddened that the area was burned. But we outgrew that spot several years ago when the forest service started limiting attendance to 700. In addition, at TMSP this summer, the Ellensburg light dome was so bad I had difficulty finding stars in Saggitarius. The Wenatchee light dome is getting to be noticable too.

I'd like to see the party moved to a place with dark sky. I know there are considerations for distance and accessability, but that spot is by no means "dark" any more.






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