How the Santa Fe Fireshed Affects You and Your Neighbors
You may have started hearing a new term to describe the landscapes in and around Santa Fe – the “Santa Fe Fireshed” – which raises a good question. What exactly is a fireshed? The term was coined by concerned scientists, natural resource managers and non-profit organizations after seeing bigger, hotter, faster wildfires over the last decade and realizing just how vulnerable the Santa Fe area is.
Much of the forested areas within the Santa Fe Fireshed are dense and overgrown with trees and vegetation due to a century of fire suppression. This condition is not only ecologically unhealthy but also raises the risk of high-intensity wildfire in and around our communities. A fire like the 156,000-acre Las Conchas Fire in 2011, which burned at the rate of about an acre per second, would have a catastrophic impact on Santa Fe. A high-intensity wildfire and the probability of post-fire flooding would threaten the lives and property of our neighbors, cause massive damage to critical infrastructure and our source of municipal drinking water, and devastate our local economy which relies on tourism and recreation. Imagine the effects of severe fire on such beloved and highly visited landmarks as Hyde State Park, the Santa Fe Ski Basin or Black Canyon Campground.
The 107,000-acre Fireshed crosses multiple boundaries, including private land, Pueblo of Tesuque tribal lands, and public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County and the State of New Mexico.
The Fireshed’s large scale and complexity make it difficult for any single entity to tackle both the restoration work to make our forests and watersheds more resilient to fire and the measures we all need to take around our homes to create fire-adapted communities. By coming together and forming the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition (GSFFC) to address the problem, state and federal agencies, local governments, non-profits and community members can leverage their ability to accomplish work on the ground and protect these important resources.
As the GSFFC’s partners begin planning and implementing work in the Fireshed to make our forests more resilient and our communities better prepared for wildfire, questions about wildfire risks, management and impacts are valid and should be addressed.
To encourage the exchange of information, ideas and concerns, the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition is hosting an open house at the Santa Fe Convention Center on Friday, September 22, 2017, from 4:30 to 8:00 pm with presentations beginning at 5:30. The Nature Conservancy, one of the GSFFC’s founding partners, will share results from a recently completed wildfire risk assessment for the Fireshed, which identifies high-risk areas that will be priority areas for forest restoration through treatments that include thinning and prescribed fire. Other topics include the fire history of the Santa Fe area, forest health, watersheds, wildlife, and community preparedness.
So, what is a fireshed? The open house is your opportunity to learn more about it and engage scientists, land managers and community partners in a dialogue about the value of a comprehensive, science-driven strategy to improve the resilience of our forests and communities to major disturbances like wildfire, insects and disease, and climate change. We hope to see you there.
The Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition, including the following partners:
The Nature Conservancy
Forest Service / Santa Fe National Forest
New Mexico State Forestry Division
Forest Stewards Guild
City of Santa Fe
Santa Fe County
U.S. Geological Survey
Pueblo of Tesuque
New Mexico Forest & Watershed Restoration Institute
Santa Fe-Pojoaque Soil & Water Conservation District
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Santa Fe Watershed Association