About an hour north of Albuquerque, the Jemez Mountains are popular with hikers, fly fishermen, and pretty much anyone else looking for a mountain escape. The mountains have also been grazed, logged, and recently, hit hard by wildfire—Cerro Grande in 2000 and Las Conchas in 2011.
A few years ago, the Santa Fe National Forest identified the southwestern portion of the Jemez as an important place to focus its restoration effort. The goal of the Southwest Jemez Mountains Landscape Restoration Project is to improve the ability of ecosystems to recover from wildfires and other natural disasters.
The project covers more than 200,000 acres, and its partners range from agencies such as the US Forest Service and National Park Service to environmental groups, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the pueblos of Santa Clara and Jemez.
Some of the proposed projects include forest thinning, prescribed fire, management of natural fires, road closures, stream restoration, and improving habitat for fish and wildlife.
Project members are also monitoring conditions in the Jemez Mountains, which scientists have called a “laboratory” for climate change, as the ecosystem has had to deal with rising temperatures, drought, increasingly hot and large wildfires, and the die-off of conifer forests.
The first of the project’s public meetings will take place on July 24 in Albuquerque.
A complete list of meetings, as well as information on how to comment on the project, is available on the Santa Fe National Forest website.
- Tuesday, July 24– Taylor Ranch Community Center, 4900 Kachina St., NW, Albuquerque, NM, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Thursday, July 26–UNM Continuing Education Conference Center, (south building) 1634 University Blvd., NE, Albuquerque, NM from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 31– Valles Caldera Science & Education Center in Jemez Springs, 90 Villa Louis Martin, from 1:30p.m.to 3:30p.m.
- Thursday, August 2– Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 11 Forest Lane, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
To learn more about the project, visit the Southwest Jemez Mountains Landscape Restoration Project homepage.