The devastation brought on by the Cerro Grande and Las Conchas wildfires is something no one wants to see repeated. Not only were thousands of acres of forests devastated, watersheds were choked with ash and debris for months afterwards, effecting municipal water supplies as far away as Albuquerque.
The Nature Conservancy-led Rio Grande Water Fund is an ambitious 20-year program aimed at protecting forests from those high-intensity fires and, by extension, the state’s watersheds. Their efforts are directed at the entire northern Rio Grande watershed.
The program is modeled after the Jemez Mountains/Valles Caldera National Preserve Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, which was established by Congress in 2010.
Bob Parmenter, the preserve’s division chief for science and resource stewardship, has been involved with that project from the start and now sits on the RGWF board. The foundation of both efforts is restoring healthy forests.
“The overall goal of the (CFLRP) program is to reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire in forested watersheds,” Parmenter said. “And that is being accomplished by thinning some of the overgrown second-growth stands that have been logged in the 20th century and have come back as what we refer to as ‘dog hair forests.’ The trees are as dense as the hairs on the back of a dog, basically. We refer to them as ‘dog hair thickets’ or ‘dog hair forests.’”
From The Los Alamos Monitor: http://www.lamonitor.com/content/forest-thinning-underway-protect-watersheds