Forest Managament


Terry Sullivan: Safeguarding the Rio Grande Water Shed with Innovative Forest Management Practices

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A major element of the enchantment of New Mexico is the beauty of our forested mountains. Until the last 100 years, those forests were maintained by natural processes such as frequent, low-intensity fires that would act to cleanse the landscape and create the perfect balance of vegetation and trees. However, over the past century, as we have suppressed natural fires, our forests have grown significantly more dense with trees.  This creates more fuel for fires, and combined with steadily increasing summer temperatures is causing wildfires to burn hotter, this often results in catastrophic wildfires. These wildfires not only destroy wildlife habitat, homes and community infrastructure, but they also impact rural economies through the loss of tourism and recreational opportunities. Restoration of overgrown forests that act as fuel for wildfires is a critical strategy to reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire, and a few years ago such treatments were underway only at a very small scale. The Las Conchas Fire of 2011 illustrated the problem we faced: nearly 45% of the 156,000 acres fire burned at high severity. Thunderstorms... read more +