GNA Spotlight - October 2023
Authored by George Ducker, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Forestry Division
In October 2023, work began on the Year 2 Workplan for the Joint Chiefs’ Bear Creek to Signal Peak Collaborative Restoration Project in Grant County, New Mexico.
The goals of this multi-year project include reducing fuels and fire intensities in the surrounding area and improving wildlife habitat. Nearby comminutes include the Wagon Wheel, Feeley, and Bear Mountain subdivisions. Adjacent recreation sites include the Gomez Peak day-use area and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. An estimated 1,500 acres will receive treatment over the course of the project.
As a joint effort between the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department’s Forestry Division and the Gila National Forest, Silver City Ranger District, the project is a three-year funded grant under the Good Neighbor Authority.
Thinning units are in the Silver City wildland-urban interface and nested within the shared stewardship boundary of the Pinos Altos Focal Area, a Southern Gila Priority Landscape. New Mexico Forestry Division’s (NMFD) Silver City satellite office, Socorro District, has been able to help guide project layout, inspection assessment, and subcontracting services with local forestry contractors.
Earlier this year, 135 acres were treated near Gomez Peak, using a combination of mastication and hand treatments. As with the entire scope of the project, the goal was to reduce hazardous fuels, especially ladder fuels in the understory. Treatment reduced the chance for a groundfire to move vertically and cause a high-intensity wildfire.
This fall, three thinning units (300 ac) already have contractor agreements and purchase orders in place. Seven additional units (250 ac) are shovel-ready, pending agreements. These areas were identified as priority treatment areas in the 2020 Grant County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, the Grant County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Long Range Resources Plan, and the NM Forestry Division’s Forestry Action Plan (2020).
The Forestry Division wishes to thank our partners in this collaborative effort and their commitment to ongoing shared priorities in the state of New Mexico.
Photo: Tom Zegler