Back Country Horsemen of Washington members Linda Morin, left, Ray and Rochelle Sutherland had a grand time leading the equine entries in the parade as a part of the Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival. Members from three Olympic Peninsula chapters participated. (Photo by Denise Hupfer/Peninsula chapter Back Country Horsemen of Washington)

Back Country Horsemen of Washington members Linda Morin, left, Ray and Rochelle Sutherland had a grand time leading the equine entries in the parade as a part of the Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival. Members from three Olympic Peninsula chapters participated. (Photo by Denise Hupfer/Peninsula chapter Back Country Horsemen of Washington)

HORSEPLAY: Summer full of blackberry joy and wildfire fears

WHO DOESN’T ENJOY a parade? Especially one centered on fresh wild blackberries and homemade blackberry pie? This year marked the 38th annual Joyce Daze Parade, and, as always, both spectators and participants had fun taking part.

Members from three chapters of Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) — Peninsula, Mount Olympus and Buckhorn Range — were excited to take part in their first parade since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Donna Hollatz, a member of the Peninsula chapter, recalled how wonderful the entire Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival was, with its booths featuring arts and crafts and abundant homemade blackberry pies.

“Lots of people lined the streets to watch the parade, and the mood was festive,” Hollatz said.

Despite most of summer being hot and dry, she said, “On that day was the first rain we’ve had in weeks, and we all ended up wet. The forests appreciated it, but the human spirits were somewhat dampened.”

Hollatz said it took lots of preparation to get their group of 10 people and seven stock animals ready.

“We lined up early at the high school with six rigs, seven animals, a horse cart and tool trailer,” she said. “Our parade unit consisted of four saddle horses, a horse pulling a cart and a miniature horse and donkey as pack animals.”

Linda Morin, Peninsula chapter events chair, organized the parade unit and rode her horse. Other riders were Peninsula’s Kat Sample and Ray and Rochelle Sutherland from Mount Olympus. Peninsula’s tool trailer, with displays of all of the chapter’s landowner partner decals was pulled by Don Gonder. Kandy Mulrony and Jim Morin — Linda’s brother-in-law — led the miniature pack animals, Murphy the donkey and Harley the horse. Honey bucket duties were provided by Buckhorn Range members Jeff Chapman, wielding the scoop, and Juelie Dalzell, whose horse pulled the cart with the bucket. Denise Hupfer of the Peninsula chapter documented the escapades with her camera.

“We were awarded second place in the miscellaneous category,” said Hollatz, adding it was an appropriate title. “We certainly were a miscellaneous group.”

Anyone interested in learning more about BCHW or how to become a member of a local chapter can visit the group’s website at pbchw.org or call Hollatz at 360-457-6694.

Wildfire plans

Like many others in our area, I woke to the smell of fire on Aug. 12. When I looked out my window and saw the air thick with smoke, I panicked. Thoughts of “Where’s the fire? Is it near me? Do I need to pack up the horses and the dogs and go right now?” filled my head.

Immediately, I texted nearby friends and neighbors, who, at that point, were like me and knew nothing, and then made a mental list of things I needed to do to leave. In years past, when the fire danger was high, I’d have my horse trailer hooked up and loaded with some hay, a portable water tank filled with water, food for my dogs and my own go bag.

Then, I realized I hadn’t updated my emergency go bag, and my horse trailer had a pile of wood in it that I’d have to move before I could hook it up. Big mistake on my part! I’ve since gotten rid of that pile and am now prepped and ready to go.

I received a call from a Horseplay reader who lives on Indian Island. She also was feeling anxious at the thought of a wildfire and the lack of an official assembly point. She’s not tech savvy and was wondering if anyone had set up a phone tree, or list, as a means to notify fellow horsemen of a fire and the need to leave the area ASAP.

To my knowledge, there isn’t anything like that in our area. If anyone is interested in forming one, feel free to contact me, and together we can try to get one going. In the meantime, I’ve put together a list of resources to check if there are any wildfires near me. However, they don’t list newly started fires or ones that are small in size.

Local emergency management offices, such as Clallam or Jefferson counties’ sheriff’s offices or local fire districts, order and communicate evacuations when needed, as well as any emergency activities outside of work to combat wildfire. However, calling them to ask isn’t the most efficient way to find out because they can be flooded with calls from others asking the same question. And personally, if I need to get out of the area quickly, I don’t want to waste precious time by being put on hold.

I’ve signed up to receive emergency text alerts from both Clallam and Jefferson counties’ wireless emergency alert information. For Jefferson County Emergency Management, visit co.jefferson.wa.us/1066/Alerts-Warnings or click the ALERT button in the top left-hand corner of the website’s main page.

In Clallam County, sign up for the CODE RED alerts at clallam.net/EmergencyManagement.

Both counties list a lot of vital information for how to prepare for an emergency. It’s worth looking up information from both counties. To my knowledge, neither county has set up an assembly point.

If you suspect there’s a local fire or to monitor one already burning, try tuning to local radio stations. Port Townsend has KPTZ 91.9 FM; KROH 91.1 FM and KIRO 97.3 FM. In Sequim, the stations are KSQM 91.5 FM and KZQM 104.9 FM. Port Angeles has stations KONP at 101.7 FM and 1450 AM; KNWP 90.1 FM, KVIX 89.3 FM and KSTI 102.1 FM. Forks has KBDB 96.7 FM and KNWU 91.5 FM.

I think state Department of Natural Resources has the best website for wildfire information in Washington and Oregon. On my iPad, I’ve bookmarked dnr.wa.gov. DNR provides information about wildfires that are notable, due to location or size, via its Twitter feed @waDNR_fire. Those who don’t use Twitter, you can text 40404 at any time to get DNR tweets delivered to your cellphone as text messages.

DNR and other wildfire response agencies work collaboratively to provide information about large fires on Incident Information System at inciweb.nwcg.gov and through the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center at gacc.nifc.gov. Since all links can be found on DNR’s website, that’s the only page I have bookmarked.

As to where to evacuate to, as far as I know, there are no official areas. Years ago, there was discussion about asking Clallam County Fairgrounds management about being an assembly point during an emergency. However, if there’s a large wildfire close to my home in Sequim or on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula, I’d prefer to evacuate to an area off the Peninsula, such as the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

I’d thought of it just this week and emailed the idea to both Jefferson and Clallam emergency management centers. I will keep you informed if Kitsap gives it a thumbs up.

Officially, we need to get permission for assembly points. Unofficially, though, I would bug out, get as far away as I can and find a large parking lot in safe area, such as a Walmart. Then, I’d try calling local stables for a place to stay long-term until danger has past. Hopefully, I’d still have a home to return to. The most important thing is to get out and go, and to have food and water available for your animals and yourselves.

Most of us who own horses or other large animals are pretty resourceful, so I think it falls on all of us to make our own plans for an emergency. There are private facilities, boarding stables, etc., who are willing to take on emergency rolls during a disaster. If you have such a facility or area you are willing to offer should a disaster occur, including a place for those in the tsunami zones, I encourage you to contact our local county emergency management teams.

In Clallam County, contact EOC coordinator Anne Chastain at 360-417-2483 or email [email protected].

In Jefferson County, email [email protected] or call 360-385-9376.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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