Zuni Mountains Fall 2018 Update

Greetings Partners and happy Fall! Collaborative members have been busy working on a variety of projects in the Zuni Mountains. Here are a few updates on what folks have been up to.

Mt. Taylor Fire & Fuels Crew

The Forest Stewards Guild was recently awarded a Collaborative Forest Restoration Program grant titled “Building capacity for prescribed fire in the Zuni Mountains.” A key component of that project is to employ a 10 person fire & fuels crew, based out of the Mt. Taylor Ranger District, that can help with prep work and prescribed fire implementation in the Zuni Mountains. The crew started on October 1st, right around the time when most seasonal Forest Service employees are ending their seasons.

In addition to the on-the-ground projects the crew is accomplishing, training opportunities have also been a big part of the Fire & Fuels crew. By providing opportunities for crew members to earn certifications, such as Wildland Fire Chainsaw use (S-212) and New Mexico Forest Worker Safety, participants will have improved employment opportunities when they complete the program.

While weather limited the amount of prescribed fire implemented in the Zuni Mountains this fall, the thinning, pile building, and line construction the crew accomplished will help set the Mt. Taylor Ranger District up for successful burns in the future.

 The Mt. Taylor Fire & Fuels crew preps fire-line for future prescribed burns. Photo: Chris Baca

The Mt. Taylor Fire & Fuels crew preps fire-line for future prescribed burns. Photo: Chris Baca

Water Quality Monitoring Field Trip

The same weather that has limited prescribed burning in the Zuni Mountains made scheduling the fall water quality trip a challenge as well. Both monitoring sites, which are habitat for the endangered Zuni Bluehead Sucker, are remote and difficult to reach. One of the sites, Tampico Draw, is in the bottom of a steep walled canyon. Not a great place to hangout in during a thunder storm!

Eventually, the clouds cleared and project partners from the Forest Stewards Guild, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and the NM Native Plant Society made their way to the Zuni Mountains on October 24th and November 1st. The Collaborative has been collecting water quality data in Agua Remora and Tampico Draw since 2013. Data is collected on fine sediment, temperature, pH, level (depth), dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, and total dissolved solids. Forest restoration treatments are planned for the western half of the Zuni Mountains (near where the WQ sites are located) in the future pending a decision on the Puerco Project proposed action. By collecting baseline data in these important habitat areas, project partners will be able to track any potential changes in water quality that might result from forestry operations.

 Charlie Landsman from the NM Native Plant Society searches for a sediment monitoring basket. Photo: Matt Piccarello

Charlie Landsman from the NM Native Plant Society searches for a sediment monitoring basket. Photo: Matt Piccarello

Summary Report from Forest Service CFLR Visits

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Between 2016 and 2018, Forest Service staff from the national office in Washington D.C. visited 13 of the 23 CFLR projects around the country, including the Zuni Mountains CFLR. A summary of those visits and the lessons learned from them, is now available on the resources page. Additional resources can be found in the Forest Service CFLR Resource Library.