Wildfire

Billy Wilson Photography via Flickr / Creative Commons License

You can let the fireworks fly in Bernalillo County this Fourth of July, as long as they don’t fly too far. Abundant rain this year kept Bernalillo County from banning fireworks and other fires.

Larry Gallegos has been with the Bernalillo County Fire Department for six years. He said this is the first time he’s experienced enough rain to prevent a county-wide fire ban before the Independence Day holiday.  

Rita Daniels

This year’s spring rains and snow have eased New Mexico’s drought and made it less likely that we’ll see huge, damaging wildfires this season. But in the big picture, fire ecologists say it’s not a matter of if there will be fire, it’s when. They're trying to use flames now to protect watersheds for years to come.

dharma communications via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The most abundant types of forest in New Mexico are made up of piñon and juniper trees.

A five-year inventory of the state's forested lands shows the popular trees cover more than 13.6 million acres.

The inventory also shows piñon woodlands that are old enough to produce harvest-worthy quantities of pine nuts occupy about 8 million acres in New Mexico.

Billy Wilson Photography via Flickr

Some New Mexicans can legally light their fireworks this Independence Day.

There is no statewide ban on fireworks but nearly all New Mexico counties have banned them in unincorporated areas this year because of extra dry weather.  For many counties, the ban went into effect weeks ago.

In Bernalillo County, Fire Marshal Chris Gober will be working this 4th of July and he said fireworks make his job harder.

Ed Suominen via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Can we make our forests fireproof? Do we want to? Recent large, devastating fires in New Mexico have swept away livelihoods, and threatened and destroyed watersheds and animal habitats. The U.S. Forest Service has undertaken projects to thin forests through prescribed burns and the removal of hazardous fuels...but to what effect?  We'll talk with residents, activists, the Forest Service - and YOU! - about how - and if - the needs and desires of stakeholders (human and animal) can be balanced in this time of drought and high fire danger.

New Mexico State Forestry Division / NMEMRD

This week, an American icon celebrates his birthday: Smokey Bear is turning 68.

He’s still a spry old guy, kept alive by the Ad Council and the US Forest Service. It’s New Mexico’s forests that have been taking a hammering. In 2011, the Las Conchas Fire was the largest in state history. Then this year, the Whitewater-Baldy Fire in the Gila National Forest doubled its record. This summer also saw the state’s most destructive wildfire, the Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso.

But believe it or not, there’s good news.

USDA, Gila National Forest

Even after the flames have died down, the impacts of a wildfire persist. Without tree and grass roots to absorb rainfall and hold soil in place, flooding can be a big problem.

In the wake of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire—which burned almost 300,000 acres in southwestern New Mexico—officials in the Gila National Forest have been working to get ahead of the summer rains and next year’s snowmelt.

Photo via www.flickr.com by JelleS

Researchers and ranchers are studying whether cattle grazing could significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in rugged areas of the southwest.  As Laurel Morales reports from the Fronteras Changing America Desk, firefighters had the toughest time fighting recent record-setting fires in steep terrain where dry grasses and other fuels had built up.