Mt. Pulag closed, given time to heal after fire hits Benguet forests
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines —Mt. Pulag has been declared off-limits to trekkers following a fire that burned forests around it, local and environment officials said.
A popular destination for mountaineers, Mt. Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak at 2,922 meters above sea level and situated in Benguet’s Kabayan town, although it straddles parts of Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.
Kabayan Mayor Faustino Aquisan on Monday ordered the closure of Mt. Pulag on the recommendation of the association of tour guides in the area.
Emerita Albas, Mt. Pulag National Park supervisor, said the mountain’s Akiki trail had been closed since Sunday at the height of the forest fire at Barangay Eddey in Kabayan.
Albas said Mt. Pulag’s closure would also allow it to heal after flames ravaged a portion near a ranger station earlier this month.
According to the Office of the Civil Defense in the Cordillera, another fire that started at Sitio Bulok in Barangay Adaoay, also in Kabayan, on Feb. 11 razed 643.69 hectares of forest land, including 160,547 trees, saplings and seedlings worth P1.6 million.
The fire, which spread to Barangay Achokey near the Lower Agno River Basin watershed, was put out on Feb. 18.
‘Livelihood activities’Fire investigators said “community livelihood activities” could have triggered the blaze.In nearby Tublay town, a fire that started on Feb. 19 raged for five days, destroying about 75 ha of forest in Barangay Ambassador. A four-hour forest fire also hit Barangay Baayan on Feb. 22, burning an 8-ha woodland.
Fires also hit forests in Bokod, Bakun and Kibungan towns recently.
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