Forest & Watershed Health

Two great hands-on opportunities in May!!

Two Great Learning and Volunteer Opportunities in May!

Celebrate spring with these great hands-on learning and volunteer opportunities offered by our partner organizations! The Alliance is assisting with the river restoration projects on the Rio San Antonio and is supporting the prescribed fire workshop through our work with the New Mexico Prescribed Fire Council.

Event details are in the flyers below - click for a larger version.


Prescribed Fire Workshop - Watrous, NM

The Forest Stewards Guild, with support from the American Forest Foundation, the High Plains Grasslands Alliance and NMSU, with support from Western SARE, and Fort Union Ranch are pleased to invite you to participate in a Collaborative Prescribed Fire Workshop for private landowners on May 17-19, 2019. 

This workshop is part of an effort to engage private landowners in New Mexico in wildfire mitigation to protect priority watersheds and the resources they encompass. It will also build on last year's workshop hosted by the High Plains Grasslands Alliance, Rio Mora NWR, Forest Stewards Guild, and NM Rx Fire Council, which focused on the prescribed burn planning process. We are lucky to partner with Fort Union Ranch in Watrous, NM for this workshop, which is where the burn will take place. 

A tentative schedule is as follows:

  • Friday, May 17th (9am-5pm): Training and test fire

  • Saturday, May 18th (8am - 6pm): Burn-day

  • Sunday, May 19th (8am - 4pm): Fire line management & mop up

Each day will be structured to achieve shared learning representative of state-wide restoration and wildfire mitigation goals. Morning briefings will provide preliminary training, outline restoration objectives, and walk people through the burn plan. Small groups of participants will then be partnered with an experienced firefighter for effective hands-on learning and question and answer sessions as the burn units are ignited and managed. 

The workshop be grounded in burn models first pioneered by The Nature Conservancy and their TREX program and there will be 10-15 experienced firefighters on hand to guide the process.

This is an opportunity for landowners to learn about using prescribed fire as a management tool in a safe environment under the expert guidance and mentorship professional prescribed fire practitioners. 

If you are interested in attending this workshop, please RSVP to BOTH Katie Meiklejohn (katie@ranchadvisory.com) and Kendal Martel (kendal@forestguild.org) with the following information:

  1. The days you plan to attend

  2. If you need lodging

  3. If you have any food allergies


RCPP Grant Round Two Application Period Open Now

A second signup period for the San Juan - Rio Chama RCPP grant is open now until January 18, 2019. Previous applications received after the first signup deadline will be included in this round. Only applications for Forest/Woodland projects are currently being accepted as funds for irrigation and grazing projects have been fully allocated.

This grant is a collaborative project to implement on-the-ground conservation practices across a large region of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, including the Alliance region. The  program and application process will be managed by the East Rio Arriba Soil and Water Conservation District. 

Private landowners and public land lessees within the project boundary may be eligible for project funds.

For more information, contact Norman Vigil (575-684-0042) or call the East Rio Arriba SWCD office (505-753-0477).

Read more about the RCPP Grant and find application materials HERE.

Prescribed Fire on Private Lands Workshop Jan 25th

Have you ever considered using prescribed fire - also called controlled burning - as a land management tool on property you own or manage? Are you curious about why fire is an important management tool, what the process is, or what resources are available for private lands? If so, then please join us on Friday, January 25th for a workshop on prescribed fire on private lands in Chama, NM. We will cover a broad range of topics applicable to private lands, with a focus on the nuts and bolts of implementation from planning to burn day. We will also discuss permitting, state laws, liability and risk management. Landowners and managers will come away with clear next steps and an understanding of the process required to take full advantage of resources for prescribed fire that are available right now in our region! Early planning is important in order to implement a burn when environmental conditions are right, so please join us this month for this important discussion!

This free workshop is sponsored and led by the Chama Peak Land Alliance with support from our partners at the Forest Stewards Guild and The Nature Conservancy’s Fire Learning Network.

Friday, January 25, 2019 from 9 am to 4 pm at the Chama Senior Center next to Lowe’s grocery store in Chama, NM. Light lunch provided. No RSVP necessary.

Topics to Be Covered:

  • Why use fire for land management (forest or range), seasonal and other considerations

  • Timeline for implementation - the process start to finish

  • Resources available to private lands

  • Planning - burn unit design, burn plans, pre-burn preparation, permitting

  • Operations - implementing a burn, monitoring and patrolling a burn, how landowners can be involved

  • Liability and regulations - state laws in CO and NM, country ordinances (Archuleta and Rio Arriba), the liability of the burn leader, risk management and risk mitigation techniques

  • Insurance - available products, how state laws influence, what insurance contractors carry

  • Burn planning discussion - discuss an example burn unit, planning, and operational considerations

  • Planning for wildfire and prescribed fire across a large landscape

View the full agenda HERE.

 
Low intensity prescribed fire for habitat improvement on private land near Chama, NM.

Low intensity prescribed fire for habitat improvement on private land near Chama, NM.

 
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Archuleta County: New County Process for Burning Large Piles on Private Land

If you are a resident of Archuleta County, CO you may know that the County has previously restricted open burning of piles on private land to piles no larger than 4x4x4 feet in size. Over the last few months the County, with input from Alliance staff, has amended the pile burn ordinance to provide a new mechanism for landowners to burn larger piles. This amended ordinance is primarily targeted at landowners who are engaged in forestry projects, such as thinning, that produce byproduct, such as limbs and small diameter material, that is most cost-effectively removed by burning in piles.

The amended ordinance requires landowners to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding Covering Burns (MOUCB) with the County. This MOUCB consists of a simple application and submission of a pile burn plan. The pile burn plan outlines in writing where, what, when, and how piles are to be burned. The MOUCB is good for five years once approved.

The MOUCB application can be found HERE. An example pile burn plan can be found HERE. This pile burn plan is an example for reference only; landowners may use this plan or complete one of their own, provided all required information is included (see the MOU for requirements).

The Alliance stands ready to assist landowners in navigating this process, including assisting with pile burn plans or connecting landowners to independent contractors available to write pile burn plans and complete pile burns. Contact Emily Hohman, Executive Director by email or phone at 888-445-7708 ext. 1.

Archuleta County Office of Emergency Management can be reached at 970-731-4799 and staff information is available on their website.

 
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Blanco Basin tour highlights!

Last week we hosted a short tour and discussion about the recent and on-going forest thinning projects occurring in the Blanco and Navajo Basins. This particular tour focused on work in the upper part of the Blanco Basin where eight landowners have partnered this year with the Alliance to improve forest health and wildfire resilience on their land. We were graciously hosted at the Reed-Hare Ranch (thank you Sandlin and Jerry!) where we discussed the funding source and partners supporting the on-ground work, regional collaborative efforts, heard from our US Forest Service partner about their recent decision to focus more resources in the basin, and viewed one of the mastication thinning treatments on the Ranch.

About 40 people attended, with mostly our landowner partners. We also had representation from the US Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), The Nature Conservancy, the Bureau of Reclamation, and two regional partnerships - the San Juan-Chama Watershed Partnership and the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership, in addition to Alliance staff. Thank you to all our friends and neighbors who attended on Friday!

You can read more about the Navajo-Blanco Resiliency Project HERE, including a downloadable fact sheet and more information on the US Forest Service's "Blanco Basin Vegetation Management Project".

All pictures courtesy of Caitlin Barbour, CPLA/BOR AmeriCorp VISTA Volunteer.