The Greater 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. Read our operating principals here.

 
 
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Background

Recent large fires have made it clear that working at a larger scale is needed to address the risk to the water supply, critical infrastructure and cultural values in the Fireshed. Collaborators who had been working on early projects in the municipal watershed and surrounding area broadened their look to a logical landscape that would more accurately encompass the scale of threats and the values at risk from wildland fire.  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?

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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 (the Strategy) was released. The 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.

The Coalition is putting the three tenets into action by engaging the public and facilitating collaborative cross-boundary actions that address wildfire preparation, response and recovery.

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.