In June 2018, when the 416 Fire raged north of Durango, scorching tens of thousands of acres, the Falls Creek Ranch neighborhood, a Firewise USA community, was ready. Residents had prepared for the worst through several years of fire mitigation efforts such as clearing brush and overly dense trees, led by a Neighborhood Ambassador from Wildfire Adapted Partnership based in Southern Colorado and guided by a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. As a direct result of their efforts, firefighters could safely combat the eventual arrival of the fire. No structures were lost!
This recent article from the “Inside the Forest Service” highlights the partnerships that the Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition helped to grow that lead to the successful completion of the Pacheco Canyon Prescribed Fire.
NEW MEXICO – The recent prescribed burn in Pacheco Canyon on the Santa Fe National Forest just a few miles northeast of the city of Santa Fe marked an important milestone in shared stewardship. In 2015, the New Mexico state forester and the City of Santa Fe’s fire chief convened federal, state, county, municipal and non-governmental partners to talk about a new idea – the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed – and how it could accelerate forest restoration across a complex, multi-jurisdictional 107,000-acre landscape at high risk for wildfire.
Three and half years later, the Pacheco Canyon Forest Resiliency Project is one of the first Fireshed prescribed burns on National Forest System lands. Only six miles from Santa Fe and close to several popular recreation sites, including the Santa Fe ski basin, Pacheco Canyon was of particular concern to the Pueblo of Tesuque, which owns land both within and adjacent to the project area. The tribal government collaborate closely with the SFNF on planning the proposed treatment and provided funding for analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Tesuque Pueblo fuels crew performed much of the prep work prior to the burn, and when it came time to implement, the Tesuque Pueblo firefighters were on the ground with Forest Service crews and other cooperators. Other partners on this successful project included the National Park Service, Santa Fe County Fire Department, Santa Fe City Fire Department, Los Alamos County Fire Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and Forest Stewards Guild, demonstrating the value of a collaborative approach to improving the health and long-term resilience of at-risk watersheds and communities.
Partners in the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition came together to address the risk of high-severity wildfire on the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The consequences would be catastrophic ecologically, economically and socio-culturally.
The successful Pacheco Canyon prescribed burn is another piece of the puzzle that members of the coalition are fitting together to make communities more adapted to wildfire.
Thanks to everyone who helped make another successful Wildfire Preparedness Week!
Era of Mega Fires Film
We kicked off with a screening of the Era of Megafires film at the Jean Cocteau Cinema with ~80 attendees. The screening was followed by a lively panel discussion that covered topics ranging from what makes a community fire adapted to tree planting efforts in the Las Canchas burn scar.
Wildfire and Businesses
On Tuesday there was a discussion of the impacts of wildfire on businesses. This was part of the Wildfire Mitigation Clearinghouse’s ongoing effort to build a network of businesses that are committed to helping citizens of Santa Fe realize and act to reduce their wildfire risk. For more information visit: https://arthurblackchimney.com/wildfire-mitigation-clearinghouse/
Canyon Road Presentation
On Friday, the City of Santa Fe Fire Department presented to the Canyon Road Association about the hard truths of evacuation. They covered wildfire evacuation scenarios and what it would look like if you chose to shelter in place or were trapped in your home.
Wildfire Preparedness Day, Saturday May 4th
Wildfire Preparedness Day Open House
Over 30 attendees learned how to prepare for a possible evacuation, including what to put into an evacuation kit, from the City of Santa Fe Department of Emergency Management and the Villages of Santa Fe. Three complete evacuation kits were built and given away as door prizes by the Villages of Santa Fe, this was made possible due to a grant from NFPA and State Farm.
Simtable and the Santa Fe Fire Department demonstrated their advanced technology that projects a modeled fire onto a sand table. They showed how a fire would potentially behave in Santa Fe.
The Forest Stewards Guild held a tour of how to make your home more resistant to igniting in a wildfire.
Huge thanks to the Villages of Santa Fe and their volunteers for their assistance in this event!
Eldorado Chipper Day
In Eldorado there was a very successful community chipper day that reduced hazardous fuels from along roadways and evacuation routes and chipped up fuels that were cut down by residents. Events like this embody the community action that is so crucial to reducing wildfire risk to residents.
Another community showed off their plans to put in a garden of fire-resistant plants and what forests that have been treated for defensible space can look like.
Pacheco Canyon Prescribed Fire
The week ended with the Santa Fe National Forest completing a 500-acre prescribed fire in Pacheco Canyon on Sunday. This is just another piece of the puzzle that members of the coalition are fitting together to make communities more adapted to wildfire. The National Park Service, the Pueblo of Tesuque, the Santa Fe County Fire Department, the Santa Fe City Fire Department, and the Forest Stewards Guild were all crucial in completing this prescribed burn.
The Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition is very excited about all of the responsibility that people are taking on to get these events going and to help their communities to prepare for wildfire.
The work to prepare your community, home, and family shouldn’t stop now!
If you’d like to organize an event in your community, consider joining our Fireshed ambassador program. Contact either Sam Berry at email@example.com of Porfirio Chavarria at firstname.lastname@example.org
The City of Santa Fe Fire Department and the Forest Stewards Guild used snowy conditions to burn 8-acres of piles in the Aztec Springs area of Santa Fe on January 30th, 2019. Burning these piles was the next step to reduce fuels after the City's wildland fire crews thinned the area near communities on the east side of Santa Fe. This burn was carefully planned and implemented to take advantage of conditions that limited the impact of smoke to nearby residents.
For more about the City of Santa Fe Fire Department’s Wildland Fire Division visit:
For more information about the All Hands All Lands prescribed burn initiative that partially supported this burn visit:
Santa Fe, NM –Glorieta Camps, The Nature Conservancy’s Rio Grande Water Fund and the Forest Stewards Guild have postponed the planned burn due to poor smoke ventilation and the negative consequences of heavy smoke settling into communities and on road ways. The burn will be rescheduled in all environmental conditions are favorable.
This burn will be implemented by the All Hands All Lands Burn Team (Burn Team), which is a fully qualified team designed to lead or support prescribed burns across a variety of land jurisdictions in the Water Fund landscapes of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.
This prescribed burn is happening in the context of the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition landscape. The Fireshed Coalition supports a HEPA Filter Loan Program so that smoke sensitive individuals can borrow a filter for the duration of the impacts. More information is here: http://www.santafefireshed.org/hepa-filter-loanprogram
To find out more and stay up to date, visit https://facnm.org/our-projects/all-hands-all-lands-burnteam.
More information on smoke, human health, and a HEPA Filter Loan Program can be accessed here, http://www.santafefireshed.org/hepa-filter-loan-program.
Learn more about Fire Adapted Communities at www.facnm.org. For more information call/text 505-470-0185.
The Burn Team is supported by an agreement between The Nature Conservancy and USDA Forest Service. The Forest Stewards Guild is an equal opportunity provider.