The Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition uses a pro-active, collaborative approach to improve the health and long-term resilience of forested watersheds and communities by addressing wildfire. The Coalition works to build support, understanding, and shared knowledge of the role of fire in an adaptive framework to realize our goals. Our primary goal is to identify and implement high priority on-the ground projects that make the Fireshed and its communities more resilient to wildfire while maintaining and restoring resilient landscapes. This goal will be realized when fire is used as a tool for management throughout our fire adapted forests, and communities in and adjacent to these forests become fire adapted - they understand the role of fire and are prepared for its occurrence.
The Santa Fe Fireshed
The Santa Fe Fireshed is an area of concern for the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, the Pueblo of Tesuque, the communities within and adjacent to its boundary, those who recreate and enjoy this majestic landscape, and the tourism and ecotourism economies that benefit from it. Forest and fire managers agree that this area is at great risk to high-severity wildfire due to over a century of fire suppression and other land use practices. Such an event would not only negatively affect the forested areas for decades, it would cause drastic erosion and flooding that would pose a serious hazard to human health and safety.
Released in 2014, the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy was developed by federal, state, tribal and local government representatives as well as stakeholders. The Strategy calls on land managers to work collaboratively across boundaries and use the best science to 1) safely and effectively respond to wildfire; 2) restore and maintain fire resilient landscapes, and 3) promote fire-adapted communities. In December 2015 the New Mexico State Forester Tony Delfin and the City of Santa Fe Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg convened a meeting of municipal, county, state, federal, and non-profit partners to discuss the Santa Fe Fireshed. In January 2016, the Santa Fe City Council adopted the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Resolution. In February 2016 the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners adopted a Greater Santa Fe Fireshed resolution as well.
Why do we need think and act like a fireshed?
There are fire adapted ecosystems all around the world. Where ignitions (lightning) and dry climate overlap, ecologists find fire adapted vegetation. The southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains have a variety of different fire adapted ecosystems with physical evidence of wildfire dating back hundreds and thousands of years.
In 2014 the National Cohesive Wildland Strategy was released. It calls for safe and effective response to wildfire, restore and maintain resilient landscapes, and promote fire adapted communities. In December 2015 the New Mexico State Forester Tony Delfin and the City of Santa Fe Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg convened a meeting of municipal, county, state, federal, and non-profit partners to discuss the Santa Fe Fireshed. In January 2016, the Santa Fe City Council adopted the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Resolution. In February 2016 the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners adopted a Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Resolution as well.
The Santa Fe Fireshed is so big, what can be done?
- Protect communities by mitigation activities in the wildland-urban interface.
- Promote fire adapted communities. Learn more at www.fireadaptednm.org. This includes mitigating fuels, assessing wildfire risk to structures, evacuation planning and drills, awareness, and education.
- Develop a landscape strategy that uses a collaborative process to identify landscape priorities and values at-risk.
- Conduct project planning at the landscape scale in high priority areas. On federal managed lands, this includes National Environmental Policy Act planning.
- Make use of the suite of land management tools that fit the landscape. This can include strategic thinning, fuels modification through chipping and mastication, wood utilization where appropriate, and the use of fire to reduce fuels. The use of fire may include burning piles, broadcast burning of the forest understory to mimic natural fire regimes, or using wildfire for resource benefit when firefighter and public safety allow.