The Santa Fe National Forest wants to reduce the number of trees along several roads in Pecos Canyon with a combination of thinning and burning.
Forest officials say the project, which will reduce tree densities in a 230-foot-wide corridor along several roads, will help firefighters and improve safety for people who need to leave the area in case of a wildfire. Dense forest stands allow wildfires to spread quickly. For example, the densities are 137 trees per acre in Pecos Canyon and 414 trees per acre at the Iron Gate entrance. Fire managers aim to reduce the trees to 68 per acre in Pecos Canyon and 206 per acre at Iron Gate.
Trees will be removed along N.M. 63 in Pecos Canyon, along roads in Dalton Canyon, Holy Ghost Canyon and Winsor Canyon, and near Jacks Creek. Currently, the area is listed as high fire risk or extreme fire risk in a San Miguel County Community Protection Plan.
The proposed forest-thinning project calls for reducing the number of trees per acre by half on portions of N.M. 63, at the entrance to Iron Gate and on the road to Jacks Creek. Trees will be thinned using chain saws, and some of the wood will made available to people for use as vigas, latillas and fuel wood.
Forest managers also propose using prescribed burns to remove piles of slash after the thinning and to remove other low-growing vegetation in some areas.
Creating more open spaces between trees will help prevent a wildfire from sparking from one tree to another and laddering flames up from the ground. The thinning project also will remove trees that could fall across roadways and block them during a fire.
The project is likely to increase vehicle traffic during thinning, removal and prescribed burning of slash piles. Public comments on the project will be accepted until 5 p.m. Aug. 15.
Submit comments in writing to Steve Romero, Pecos/Las Vegas District ranger, 1926 7th Street, Las Vegas, N.M. Or leave comments online at email@example.com.