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Turkey Springs Ecological Monitoring. Forest Guild and the Smokey Bear Youth Conservation Corps crew worked in 2004 and 2006 to answer the question, “Was wildfire risk to the Village of Ruidoso Downs reduced?” The answer is “ Yes .”

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Turkey SpringsEcological Monitoring

  • Forest Guild and the Smokey Bear Youth Conservation Corps crew worked in 2004 and 2006 to answer the question, “Was wildfire risk to the Village of Ruidoso Downs reduced?”

  • The answer is “Yes.”

  • Pictured below: Post restoration treatment along hillside, abundant grasses and plants in between trees.

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Turkey SpringsEcological Monitoring

Before Treatment:

  • Trees were dense (473 trees/acre)

  • Canopy was closed (51% closed)

  • Ladder fuels abundant (199 saplings/acre)

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Turkey SpringsEcological Monitoring

After Treatment:

  • Tree Density Lowered (55 trees/acre, 88% reduced)

  • Canopy was opened (22% closed, 83% reduced)

  • Ladder fuels removed (11 saplings/acre, 94% reduced)

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Turkey SpringsEcological Monitoring


  • 15 members of the Smokey Bear YCC Crew were trained in ecological monitoring in 2004 and 2006 and collected all ecological data


  • 36 tree plots equaling 32,400 ft2 or .75 acre were sampled

  • 60 canopy cover plots read (densiometer method)

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Hazardous Fuels Reduction & Wildland-Urban Interface ProjectsMescalero Apache Tribe

Division of Resource Management

& Protection

Thora Padilla, Program Manager

Sharon Paul, Supervisory Forester

Lyman Shendo, Field Supervisor

Mike Bigmouth, Crew Boss

Mark Hicks, Crew Boss



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Mescalero, NM: 1892 to 2003

  • Changes in the Landscape:

  • Increased tree density

  • Encroachment into meadows & wetlands

  • Reduction in wetlands due to Civilian Conservation Corps projects (1930’s)

  • Introduction and proliferation of non-native species, such as Chinese Elm



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Mescalero, NM in 1892



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Mescalero, NM 111 years later → 2003



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“Thinning” Project Goals

Create a spatial arrangement of treatments that will modify fire behavior.

Develop and maintain defensible spaces around residential and other developed areas.

Beneficial “Side Effects”

Restoring historic landscape conditions & ecological functions

Restoring fire regimes

Increasing water yield?

Collaborative partnerships with Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Forest Service, Village of Ruidoso, NM State Forestry & Industry



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Focus on leaving large trees in treatment areas such as Skyline Fuel Break.



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Skyline Fuel Break also resulted in enhanced wildlife usage.



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Treatment results in large amounts of slash on the ground. The dilemma is often how to treat or remove material economically.



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Prescribed burning can be used to treat slash in thinning areas and improve range conditions.



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Peña Canyon Housing Area Fuels Treatment to Create “Defensible Space”



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Hand crews with chainsaws, thinning behind the Golf Course at Inn of the Mountain Gods WUI Project.



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Chipping slash in high visual quality area adjacent to Inn of the Mountain Gods.



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Masticating equipment used to treat Piñon-Juniper encroachment into meadows.



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PJ treated with masticator, near residential areas in Mescalero.



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Koller K-300 Yarder is used to treat steep slopes, such as US70 corridor north of Apache Summit.



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Wildfire and forest health concerns at the southern boundary of the reservation.

Mescalero Apache ReservationLincoln National Forest



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16 Springs Stewardship Contract between the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Lincoln National Forest was authorized under the Tribal Forest Protection Act, allowing the Tribe to address concerns for catastrophic wildfire and forest health along the southern reservation boundary.



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DRMP Project Accomplishment(since 1999)

HFR & WUI Treatments (on-reservation) 16,193 acres

Forest Stand Improvement (following commercial harvest) 21,982 acres

US Forest Service lands, 16 Springs Stewardship Contract (signed in 2006) 1,335 acres



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For more information call

Division of Resource Management & Protection at (575) 464-4711.



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Turkey Springs Canyon Fuels Reduction and Forest Restoration Project

2004 CFRP

South Central Mountain RC&D Council

Clark Taylor

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Statement of Need

  • The existing topography, heavy fuel load, and semi-arid windy weather patterns create a deadly wildfire situation

  • Communities at risk include Mescalero Apache Reservation, City of Ruidoso Downs, Village of Ruidoso, and Lincoln NF

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Project Partners

  • South Central Mountain RC&D Council

  • Mescalero Apache Tribe

  • City of Ruidoso Downs

  • New Mexico State Forestry – Capitan District

  • Lincoln NF – Smokey Bear Ranger District

  • SBS Woodshavings, Inc.

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Objective - proposed

  • Reduce the threat of large, high intensity wildfires, negative effects of excessive competition between trees by restoring ecosystem functions, structures, and species competition, including the reduction of non-native species populations

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Objective - accomplished

  • 313 acres of ponderosa pine stands thinned on Mescalero Apache Reservation, New Mexico

  • 50 acres of pinon-juniper woodland thinned on City of Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico

  • 450 acres of pinon-juniper woodlands thinned on LNF-Smokey Bear District

  • 100 acres of ponderosa pine stands thinned on private property with assistance from NM State Forestry

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Objective - proposed

  • Re-establish fire regimes approximating those that shaped forest ecosystems prior to fire suppression

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City of Ruidoso Downs

  • The thinning was designed to reduce pinon-juniper tree density and extent canopy cover

  • Treatments were intended to alter forest structure to inhibit crown fire that threatened homes/businesses

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Objective - accomplished

  • Fuel loads are maintained with low intensity fires that are a functional part of pinon-juniper and ponderosa pine ecosystem processes

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Objective - proposed

  • Improve the use of or add value to small diameter trees

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Objective - accomplished

  • 35 loads of small diameter trees removed from thinning sites to manufacturing plant

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Objective - proposed

  • Watershed rehabilitation

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  • To reduce the sediment load that could reach the Rio Ruidoso, a state classified impaired cold water fishery

  • The project consist of:

    • Boulder retaining structures

    • Rock and wire checks

    • Planting native trees/shrubs

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Mescalero Apache Reservation

  • The Resource Management & Protection Division of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, in conjunction with BIA, marked, thinned, and monitored their acreage for fuel reduction and future timber production.

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Monitoring – existing conditions

  • Ponderosa pine stands were heavily stocked with an average 1600 trees/acre resulting in a basal area in excess of 150 square feet/acre

  • Pinon-juniper woodlands are overstocked with trees in excess of 200 square feet basal area/acre

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  • The Forest Guild was contracted to enter, analyze, and interpret ecological data collected by the Forest Guild and Smokey Bear District YCC crews in 2004 and 2006

  • Monitoring protocols were used from Handbook 4-Monitoring Ecological Effects (Derr et al. 2004)

  • Ecological Monitoring Report prepared by Eytan Krasilovsky

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City of Ruidoso Downs

  • Ecological indicators were:

    • Adult tree density, size (<5”dbh),species and live/dead

    • Sapling (>5”dbh), <4.5’ height) species and density

    • Percent under story cover-plant, bare soil (excluding rock), and litter categories

    • Photo points

    • Extent canopy cover

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City of Ruidoso Downs

  • 14 local youth working with the Smokey Bear District YCC were trained in ecological monitoring methods

  • Quantitative data was acquired from 6 transects containing 36 tree sub-plots

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What was affected in the stand by the prescription?

  • It is unclear from % ground cover data (due to possible errors in recording) if the site conditions are favorable for low–intensity surface fire

  • Reduction in canopy cover was achieved and will reduce the threat of large, high intensity crown dominated wildfire

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data analysis – continued

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data analysis - continued

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Discussion – ecological monitoring

  • Many of the grant objectives were met:

    • Reduced tree density/basal area mitigates effects of fuel and likelihood of a crown fire

    • Reduced tree competition

    • The mean adult pinon live tree size indicates that old/live trees are preserved

    • Sapling size trees density was reduced by 94% and mitigated effects of ladder fuels

    • The most significant change measured was the reduction in canopy cover

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Thank you

Clark Taylor

South Central Mountain RC&D Council

PO Box 457

Carrizozo, NM 88301

(505) 648-2941 ext 105


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Ruidoso, New Mexico

Ruidoso, New Mexico

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By studying tree rings and fire scars of large old trees, snags and stumps, forest scientists have been able to determine the frequency of fire before extensive European settlement in New Mexico


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Species Frequency

Pinyon-Juniper 10 - 30 years

Ponderosa pine 2 – 10 years

Mixed Conifer 5 – 25 years

Spruce/Fir 150+ years

Pre –Settlement Fire

By studying tree rings it became apparent that ponderosa pine forests historically experienced frequent low intensity ground fires

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What stopped the frequent low intensity ground fires?

  • Heavy grazing beginning around 1870 and lasting several decades reduced the grass cover that carried the ground fires

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Western settlement and building of railroads increased the demand for logs, ties and lumber

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Railroad Ties Upper Rio Grande, 1915.

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1910 near Flagstaff

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Same location 1930’s

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Same location, 1989

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“Before” treatment with 1000+ trees per acre.

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“After” treatment with 70-80 trees per acre.

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Kokopelli Fire 2002 - destroyed this home that had very few trees. Home was lost because of embers igniting flammable material around home site.

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Green trees around burned foundation indicate ground fire and lack of defensible space add to home losses.

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Pine needles and ladder fuels contribute to numerous losses in fire events.

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Forest health challenges include Dwarf mistletoe on Ponderosa pine.

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Dwarf mistletoe spreads by producing fruiting bodies that release sticky seeds during monsoon season.

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Bark beetle on Ponderosa pine

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Pitch tube caused by Bark beetle attack on Ponderosa pine. Hole indicates successful exit of beetle.

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Green wood covered by clear plastic reduces beetle habitat.

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Ruidoso requires ground fire management …recommends crown fire management.

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Trees close to structure are OK as long as ladder fuels and needles are removed.

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Clumps of trees and use of natural landscape elements is encouraged.

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GreaterRuidoso Area WUI Working Group created to implement individual management objectives in strategic locations.

…working on their “piece of the puzzle”

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GRAWUIWG participants at monthly meeting.

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Networking and collaboration.

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Prescribed burning is conducted by Ruidoso Fire Department to further reduce fuels.

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Other collaborations include educational monitoring. YCC crews have been provided through EMNRD and the Forest Trust.

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Volumes of data have been collected by young “foresters”

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Village Forestry and other GRAWUIWG partners give presentations to Ruidoso High students.

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Village of Ruidoso Community Forest Management Plan trailer provides assistance to property owners in Firesmart Neighborhood Program

Allstate Insurance awards the Village $500.00 for their efforts

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Rocky Mountain Supply Co. located in Alamogordo, NM donated over $1,400.00 of hand tools and safety equipment for the tool wagon.

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One of four Solid Waste Department “grappling” trucks …

…providing a forest waste disposal service where 100% of the material is recycled.

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Compost from SCI is used in gardens and has been added as a silt control specification with New Mexico’s Highway Department.

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Wall spray1

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Wall spray2

One month later…

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Other ways to utilize small diameter trees…

Grizzly’s Bears carves bears and other novelties

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… and lots more!

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Lincoln National Forest

Smokey Bear Ranger District

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Proposed Action vs. New Alternative

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USFS Wildlife Habitat projects

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The End

This presentation was developed by Forestry Department Village of Ruidoso 313 Cree Meadows Drive Ruidoso, NM 88345

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