In 2009, the U.S. Forest Service issued the following “feeler”, requesting interest and resources for a project to restore 5000 acres of New Mexico landscape annually for 10 years.
REVITALIZATION readers familiar this initiative are invited to update fellow readers on the status (if any) of this effort in the Comments section below.
The Southwestern Region (AZ and NM) of the USDA Forest Service is in the beginning stage of planning a comprehensive, multi-year forest restoration project across central New Mexico, merging with ongoing restoration across Arizona. This request for information is the initial phase used to gather information and explore contract options.
The project objective is to restore ponderosa pine and pinon/juniper forest types by thinning and harvesting mainly small diameter trees in excess of ecological requirements. Restoration would occur initially in the Grants, NM (Zuni Mountains) to the Reserve, NM area. The area will be further defined during the collaborative planning process.
Ultimately, over the next planning phases, restoration would occur across at least three New Mexico national forests and one Arizona forest of mostly ponderosa pine, pinon/juniper woodlands and dry mixed conifer forests. Present forest forecast has indicated priority restoration work being planned on the Reserve and Quemado Ranger Districts of the Gila NF, Mt. Taylor and Magdalena Ranger Districts of the Cibola, and the Coyote, Cuba and Jemez Ranger Districts in the Jemez Mountains of the Santa Fe National Forest. The Alpine Ranger District on the Apache-Sitgreaves NF also has restoration work being planned producing forest products which could merge into a central New Mexico working circle.
The rate of treatment is anticipated to be a minimum of 5,000 acres per year over a ten-year contract period. It is expected that most treatment areas would accommodate ground-based harvest systems with some temporary road construction requirements but little to no new, specified road construction needs. Forest products include small diameter ponderosa pine, and varying amounts of pinon, juniper, and other softwoods. Typical yields would range between 600-800 cubic feet per acre in pine and 3-5 cords per acre in pinion/juniper.
The purpose of this request is to identify companies and industries that might be interested in learning more, potentially being a partner or proponent, and participating in the early phases of the planning process. There is no formal contract at present, the exact acres to be treated have not been identified, and the exact amount of wood to be removed has not been determined.
However, a crude supply estimate has determined that there is a large sustainable supply for up to 10 years projected, and the Forest Service is confident that the volumes will be substantial and firm. From this information it is projected that there will be more contracts of comparable size in the future.