Cerro Del Aire CFRP

 

The Forest Stewards Guild, working closely with the New Mexico State Land Office (SLO) and the Taos Field Office (TFO) of the Bureau of Land Management, plan to implement mechanical forest treatments needed on New Mexico State Land in the Cerro del Aire landscape near Tres Piedras, NM. The Cerro del Aire project area spans roughly 10,000 acres northeast of Tres Piedras within the larger landscape of the 242,500 acre Monument in Taos and Rio Arriba counties. The treatments will begin in January of 2017 and continue through the Spring of 2017.

This project is funded by the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program (CFRP) and is aimed at protecting this ecologically significant landscape from the negative effects of high-intensity wildfire, drought, and climate change. In total, 250 - 300 acres of pinon-juniper, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifer forests will receive mechanical treatments on SLO and TFO lands. On TFO lands, strategic thinning will occur in a powerline corridor where current fuel loading prohibits prescribed fire and managed wildfire operations.

In the piñon-juniper and ponderosa pine ecotone, thinning and prescribed fire treatments will leave stands less susceptible to uncharacteristic stand-replacing wildfire. These treatments will also help protect ecologically significant, old, or large trees from stress and wildfire-related mortality during periods of extended drought as the climate warms.

The treatments will generate an estimated 750-850 cords of wood that will be available to the community as fuelwood through a simple permit process. This project will support an estimated 4-6 full-time restoration jobs over three years. The Forest Stewards Guild will offer opportunities for the public to learn more about the project through an ecological monitoring training and Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Peer Learning Exchange workshops for the surrounding communities.

In order to quantify if the project area has met the desired outcomes, forest monitoring will be carried out pre and post treatment beginning in December 2016. The desired ecological conditions include, reduction in small trees and basal area, increased grass cover and herbaceous understory, reduced erosion, and heterogeneous stand structure with diverse age classes, openings, and increased crown base height.