July All-Hands meeting
New and long-time members of the Zuni Mountains Collaborative gathered at the El Malpais National Monument Visitor's Center in Grants July 17th and 18th to discuss the previous year of forest restoration work in the Zuni CFLR landscape. The agenda covered topics including socio-economic and long-term vegetation monitoring, partner updates from Shirley Piqosa of Acoma Forestry, implementation and Puerco project NEPA updates from the Forest Service.
Eddie Baca, Acting Fire Management Officer for the Mt. Taylor Ranger District gave an excellent presentation that walked meeting participants through the events leading up to and during the Bluewater and Diener Canyon wildfires that occurred in the Zuni Mountains in April 2018. While the Diener Canyon fire did in fact start as a prescribed fire, that doesn't begin to tell the whole story. Several factors resulted in fire resources being spread thin, despite having more than twice the required personnel on hand. Three additional wildfire starts on the Mt. Taylor Ranger District on a day when wind speeds far exceeded what had been forecast created challenging conditions for firefighters. All of the starts were human caused, including one that fire investigators concluded had been caused by arson. Two of the three wildfire starts were successfully suppressed. The third, resulted in the Bluewater Fire, that burned 3,473 acres and prompted a pre-evacuation notice for the nearby communities of Bluewater Acres, Bluewater Village/Plano Colorado Estates, and the La Jara Subdivision. The Diener canyon fire burned predominately within the footprint of the 2004 Mt. Sedgwick fire, limiting the ecological damage and mitigating fire effects.
On July 18th, meeting participants toured past and proposed treatment sites as well as areas impacted by the Diener Canyon fire. The field tour, which showed areas burned as part of the prescribed fire and subsequent wildfire provided important context for the previous days presentation by Eddie Baca.
Below are links to presentations and resources discussed at the meeting.
Puerco Project NEPA
The Cibola National Forest is accepting comments on the proposed action for the Puerco Landscape Restoration Project until August 30th. The proposed analysis area is approximately 81,00 acres and includes 49,359 acres of mechanical treatment with prescribed fire, 23,087 acres of mechanical treatment only, and 8,538 acres of treatment using prescribed fire only. The proposed action and environmental assessment can be found on the resources page.
Thursday, September 20th, project partners will convene a scenario planning meeting to discuss the future of the Zuni Mountains CFLR. The meeting will be held at the El Malpais National Monument Visitor Center. 1900 E. Santa Fe Ave. Grants, NM from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m on Thursday September 20th 2018. Visit the event page to RSVP for the meeting by September 10th.