The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is soliciting public input on a proposed forest restoration project in the mountains near Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Mountains Landscape Resiliency (SFMLR) project is designed to restore forest and watershed health and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire across approximately 50,000 acres of the SFNF.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), comments received by July 10, 2019, will help determine the scope of the SFMLR project, including the environmental issues to be considered and the SFNF’s proposed action and possible alternatives. The SFNF will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine the environmental impacts of the project. The public will also have an opportunity to comment on the draft EA. If the EA analysis determines that environmental impacts will be significant, the SFNF will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Historically, low-to moderate-intensity wildfires burned through the ponderosa pine/dry mixed conifer forests of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains every seven to 15 years. The SFMLR project would use prescribed fire and mechanical and hand thinning to restore frequent-fire forests to their historic natural condition and improve their resilience to major disturbances like wildfire, insects and disease, and climate change. The project also proposes riparian restoration and road improvements and decommissioning to improve watershed health. This work could begin as early as fall 2020. Initial treatments would occur over 10 to 15 years.
The SFNF has scheduled two public meetings during the scoping period for Forest Service staff to provide detailed information on the SFMLR project and answer questions. The public meetings will be held on:
· Monday, June 24, 2019, from 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm at the SFNF Supervisor’s Office, 11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, NM
· Saturday, June 29, 2019, from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm at Hondo Fire Station 2, 645 Old Las Vegas Highway, Santa Fe, NM
Written comments can also be submitted by mail, email or in person. Additional information on the project and instructions on submitting comments can be found in the scoping document posted on the project webpage.
The SFMLR project is part of a larger multi-partner collaborative, the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition, that came together after the Las Conchas Fire in the Jemez Mountains to proactively address the risk of high-severity wildfire and post-fire flooding and debris flow in and around Santa Fe. The Fireshed and the SFMLR project both build on the successful partnership between the City of Santa Fe and the SFNF for the long-term management of the Municipal Watershed to provide a reliable supply of water for city residents by maintaining the health of the forest and mitigating the risk of wildfire within the 17,384-acre watershed. The SFMLR project area includes the terrain flanking both the north and south boundaries of the Municipal Watershed.