Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marmots, Fires, and Preggers

We are getting ready for the Youth Corp, a group of around 10 kids (well, 19-23 yr olds) whom we will be doing projects with on Guanella Pass for the next month. Andrew & I hiked half of the South Park trail today, and spotted a few marmots!

The Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris), also known as the Rock Chuck, is a ground squirrel in the marmot genus. It lives in the western United States and southwestern Canada, including the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. It inhabits steppes, meadows, talus fields and other open habitats, sometimes on the edge of deciduous or coniferous forests, and typically above 2000 metres (6500 ft) of elevation. Yellow-bellied Marmots usually weigh between 5 and 11 pounds (2 and 5 kg) when fully grown. They get fatter in the fall just before hibernating. A marmot's habitat is mostly grass and rocks with few trees. Their territory is about 20,000 to 30,000 square metres (about 6 acres) around a number of summer burrows.

Marmots choose to dig burrows under rocks because predators are less likely to see their burrow. Predators include wolves, foxes, and coyotes. When a marmot sees a predator, it whistles to warn all other marmots in the area (giving it the nickname the whistle pig). Then it typically hides in a nearby rock pile.

Marmots reproduce when about 2 years old, and may live up to an age of 15 years. They reside in colonies; a colony is a group of about 10 to 20. Each male marmot digs a burrow soon after he wakes up from hibernation. He then starts looking for females, and by summer has 1 to 4 females living with him. Litters usually average 4-5 offspring per female. Marmots have what is called "harem-polygynous" mating system, which means the male defends 1-4 mates at the same time.

Yellow-bellied Marmots are diurnal like most mammals. The marmot is also an omnivore, eating grass, leaves, flowers, fruit, grasshoppers, and bird eggs.

Marmots are not hunted for sport but are sometimes killed by farmers.

Yellow-bellied Marmots include "toilet rooms" in their burrows as well as living rooms, bedrooms and eating rooms.

Very cool sighting!


I dropped Jason off at the fire station on sunday afternoon - we happened to be getting ready to go frisbee golfing when J looked out our apartment window & spotted a forest fire off in the distance - billowing smoke about 30 miles away. The Platte Canyon crew was called out to it, and the fire turned out to be pretty large ...

I haven't heard from him since I dropped him off, I was out in that area a few weeks ago & am pretty sure they do not have cell service. It sounds like the fire is contained as of tonite, so hopefully they will return home some time this week. :) Missing him tons.

DECKERS, Colo. -- A forest fire that has been burning since Sunday is now fully contained, firefighter said Tuesday evening.

The Oxyoke Fire burned 110 acres -- a figure downsized from an earlier estimate of 140 acres, which prompted the emergency evacuation of about 15 homes near the fire line.

All evacuations and road closures were lifted at 6 p.m.

Slightly cooler temperatures and increased relative humidity helped firefighters gain the upper hand on the fire.

Operations will be scaled down Wednesday morning to just five engines and two 20-person hand crews to finish mopping up and patrolling the fire. Smoke will continue to be visible for several days as interior fuels burn out, the Forest Service said.

The area is now open to the public but residents are asked to be cautious while in the area because fire fighters will continue to be in the area. Also, rocks and other rolling material could still roll out of the burn onto the road, especially after rains.

More than 225 firefighters helped battle the blaze, coming from local volunteer fire departments and the U.S. Forest Service.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation by the U.S. Forest Service.

The National Interagency Fire Center said the national preparedness level remained at five, on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest.

Maternity-wearing Maniac Mamma!

I leave you with this photo of my beautiful sister-in-law, Katie - Schuyler and Her are due with their 2nd precious baby, Holt, at the beginning of August, but from the looks of this pic, he could shoot out at any moment! xoxox Much love to all!

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