In response to the Cerro Grande fire in 2000, residents in forested areas of the west decided to step up efforts to protect their communities from similar disasters. It was clear that overgrown forests had to be restored to a more natural condition, with open areas and reduced fuel loads. In response, several local agencies worked together to develop the East Mountain Cooperative Wildfire Protection Plan, which guides interagency efforts to reduce wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface in the eastern portion of Bernalillo County.
On the federal side of the fence, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service has concentrated on building fuel breaks near high-risk areas within the wildland/urban interface (WUI) where homes and businesses are built in or adjacent to forest lands. Ciudad's East Mountain Forest Health Program (EMFHP) was implemented to assist landowners in reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire damage on private property, while at the same time improving the forest's overall health.
Our cost share program provides technical assistance and on-the-ground work in three project areas, 1) along the North 14 corridor between Tijeras and La Madera, 2) east of Tijeras off I40 to Sedillo Hill and, 3) south along the Hwy 337 corridor from Tijeras to Torreon. The program's goal is to reduce the wildfire risk to residents and businesses in the District's East Mountain Area.
Program will supply up to 50% of the funding for the on-the-ground work. Landowners must provide a 50% match. Landowners who are interested in having their property treated must complete an application form and submit it to the Ciudad SWCD. This program is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. District staff meets with landowners to develop a plan for thinning their particular property. Treatments require creating 1-acre of defensible space around any structures. The District works with qualified contractors to perform each individual treatment.
The EMFHP is a cooperative effort between Ciudad SWCD, the State Forestry Division of the NM Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department and private landowners. All treatments are done voluntarily. This program is strictly grant funded.