Tag Archives: Jemez Mountains

Our Land: After The Wildfires

NMiF: Our Land

November 24, 2017 – Six years ago this summer, the Las Conchas wildfire burned 156,000 acres in the Jemez Mountains. The effects of that fire are still visible on the landscape today. And changes in the forest will continue to be seen for generations.

Las Conchas burned over 60 percent of Bandelier National Monument. The park and nearby pueblos also experienced major flooding in the years afterwards. Thousands of acres of ponderosa and mixed conifer forest in the mountains have since transitioned into shrubs and grasslands. Scientists know that fire was an important part of the landscape for a millennia. Fires would have burned through this area every 5-7 years, according to tree ring chronologies. Due to many factors, including a history of fire suppression and a warming climate, fires like Las Conchas burned with high intensity and high severity in recent decades.

In July we began a new series on New Mexico in Focus. Correspondent Laura Paskus has been examining a different environmental issue each month on “Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present and Future.”

The changes we learn about in this segment aren’t unique to the Jemez Mountains. Scientists and land managers are learning lessons that can be shared across the western United States.

Learn More/Read More:
Santa Fe Reporter/NM Political Report – The Heart of Darkness
NMIF – Santa Clara Pueblo Prepares For Flooding
Details about Las Conchas wildfire

Our Land: Collaborative Forest Restoration

NMiF: Our Land

August 11, 2017 - In the Jemez Mountains, a long-term project brings together people from different backgrounds, scientists from a range of disciplines and even environmental advocates and the timber industry.

The Southwest Jemez Mountains Resilient Landscapes and Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project covers 210,000 acres spread across the Santa Fe National Forest, Valles Caldera and the Pueblo of Jemez.

The goal is to return the Jemez’s forests to their more natural state—closer to what they were like before large-scale grazing in the late 1800s and a century’s worth of fire-suppression led to the thickets they had become by the end of the 20th century, when overgrown forests, drought and warming led to fires like Las Conchas in 2011.

On the latest episode of “Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present and Future,” Dr. Bob Parmenter, chief of science and resource stewardship at Valles Caldera National Preserve, and Susan Harrelson, a silviculturalist with the U.S. Forest Service show us the difference between healthy and overgrown forests in northern New Mexico and talk about the importance of reintroducing fire to the landscape.

Learn More/Read More:

Southwest Jemez Mountains Resilient Landscapes and Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project

Santa Fe National Forest historic photograph archives

Valles Caldera National Preserve

New Mexico Political Report