Report from Sprucedale
We are just writing to let you know that we had a great visit during the week of June 26. The air was super clean, no smoke whatsoever, and we saw more wildlife than we ever have in our collective 50+ years of visiting Sprucedale (elk, deer, antelope, big horn sheep, wild horses, wild turkey, and black bear). It gave us a reference point of where Sprucedale is now compared to where it will be in a year or two. The Forest Service says the forest and pastures, while temporarily blackened in spots, will come back stronger than ever. The fire worked like a mosaic, some pockets are black while others are untouched. The interesting thing is the natural thinning that occurred revealed other amazing views and topography that has been hidden or unnoticed for years. The rim rock formations are astounding. We were somewhat apprehensive about the possible changes to the area, but we are actually glad to have seen and experienced the remarkable differences and learn about the wonders of nature, there is nothing to fear.
Eagar and Springerville Chamber Commerce announces
Thanks everyone for your prays and donations we can now official start our season. We hope to see you all on the mountain soon!
Fire can be picky of what it chooses to take, and ver sadly our Brother Billy at Beaver Creek lost five cabins. Durning the evacuation, the imminent fire threat was at Sprucedale. Whitney and Billy worked to prepare Beaver Creek. The fire unexpectedly came around the backside of the mountain. The fire was then at Billy’s door steps with no fire fighter to help protect his ranch. However fire fighters were located, but it was not the crew that was familiar or assingned to Beaver Creek. The didn’t have the equipment, time or conditions needed to save Billy’s cabins. Very sad as he really put his heart and sould into building those cabins. He is determinded to rebuild and we Sprucedale/Wiltbank Family are determined to help him. For those of you who desire, there has been a donation site created to help Billy obtain the resources to rebuild www.beavercreekranchfirerelief.com or Ranch Relief Fund where you can donate supplies and labor.
Howdy to all from the Wiltbank’s and Sprucedale Guest Ranch. As many of you know,the Wallow Fire was recently in our area. On June 2 the Wallow Fire was not seen as a imminent threat, but the extreme weather conditions combined with the excessive fuel of the Bear Wallow Wilderness Area allowed the Wallow Fire to plume and spread across the forest. This unpredicted fire activity allowed only 30 minutes for evacuation from Sprucedale. The Sprucedale staff and family were quickly and safely evacuated to Eagar. Whitney drove the horses into the mountains and opened all gates allowing the horses space to avoid the fire. The fire fighters stayed at the ranch and fought valiantly all through the night to save Sprucedale.
We tried to be patient but couldn’t help but call Bob Orriell, our Forest Service Liaison, often to get updates on the status of the ranch. Everyday we were evacuated was filled with nail biting and trying to focus on the good things (everyone was safe). We would received bits of information from many different sources. One of our best updates was from a wife of a fire fighter who was stationed at Sprucedale, yet we really didn’t know Sprucedale’s fate. We were overjoyed when we received the official notice that Sprucedale had lost no structures (cabins). The news that Sprucedale was saved was sweetened when we saw pictures of the ranch that showed, for the most part, our beautiful treeline was spared. Dad and Whitney were especially pleased to see the pictures that most of the horses came home safely and were in the meadow. Emma, Whitney’s daughter, was ecstatic to hear that her dog was found, fed, and renamed “Whiskey” by firefighters 10 miles from Sprucedale! And last but not least the three little pigs were alive. We were even able to see Sprucedale in person via a Sherriff escorted on 06/11/2011 (video of the return) to assess the damage and prepare for repairs. The fire for the most part stayed in the forest undergrowth, which will grow back after the rains start. There were some areas where the tops of the trees were affected, and we are working to save as many as possible. Sprucedale’s structures were protected with onlya few melted waterpipes and electrical lines. The fences around Sprucedale took the biggest hit, but they are replaceable. Sprucedale will be operational this summer, but we do have a lot of work to do. For those of you who have asked how you can help please visit our Wallow Fire Restoration page on our website for more information. Overall we feel so fortunate and thankful that the Sprucedale tradition can carry on. Sprucedale needs some care but is ingood shape. This season will be different, but will be just as good if not better. It is going to be memorable summer pulling together as a Sprucedale Family and reviving Sprucedale. We are “putting on the work gloves” and will be back in business by June 26.
Please read more about the impact of the Wallow Fire and how you can HELP at Ranch Fire Restoration