The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway has been going through a transformation that began with the French Fire in August 2014. The fire affected portions 13 miles inside the fire perimeter. Some areas were untouched or lightly burned and some were more severely burned. The Byway through the fire area was temporarily closed for public safety. The Forest Service took precautions during the fire and immediately afterwards to mitigate hazards along the Byway by felling hazardous trees, cleaning culverts and posting warning signs.
The Mile High Road Hazard Tree timber sale was put in place to remove dead trees that pose a public health and safety hazard along roads in the fire area. Operations on the sale are winding down at this time but will resume in May. The sale will be completed by July 31st. Additional fire recovery and reforestation planning efforts are underway for areas away from main roads and these activities may start up as early as August 1 and could conceivably continue for a year and a half. The result may be improved views along the Byway and increased log truck traffic during times of activity.
Ross Cabin, Fish Creek and Rock Creek campgrounds were spared during the fire and are available to the visiting public. Views at Mile High overlook are enhanced with additional scenic views of Eagle Beaks and the high sierra. Burned area in the foreground and across Mammoth Pool add a change in the scenery; welcome or not.
From now through the end of July 2015 the Mile High Road Hazard Tree timber sale will afford interesting views of the logging process but will also create driving hazards in the form of obstacles in the roadway such as rocks and limbs. Byway visitors may be delayed for a short time for their safety as the loggers skid logs or load trucks but they have been reasonable about wait times and they are required to clear the roadway to allow passage of vehicular traffic.
Be cautious in the logging zones and always drive at a safe speed while on the Byway. Anticipate a log truck or RV at any time and on any corner, but enjoy the changes occurring along the Byway and keep coming back to see how the forest is renewed over the next several years.