Rio Trampas Watershed

UpcomingRio Trampas Watershed TREXOctober 2017

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July 2017 Field Exchange: Rio Trampas Collaborative Forest Restoration Project (CFRP) 

Quick links to field exchange materials:

Implementation of Savanna and Woodland Restoration

Rio Trampas CFRP Objectives and Agenda

Field Notes

Drone footage from field sites highlights restoration treatments across the landscape. 

On July 11th, 2017 the Forest Stewards Guild hosted a field exchange to explore restoration treatments in the Rio Trampas watershed. Since 2014, the Rio Trampas Collaborative Forest Restoration Project (CFRP) has enabled implementation of treatments to promote soil and water conservation and to prepare the designated sites for the return of wildfire. These treatments have included the installation of landscape structures to mitigate erosion, forest and woodland thinning, sale of fuelwood to local communities, and prescribed burns forecasted for later this fall and beyond.

The exchange provided a chance for individuals and organizations that have been involved in the CFRP to observe restoration treatments in person and to offer thoughts and feedback. Specific objectives included:

  • Visiting a suite of forest, woodland, and watershed restoration treatments in order to make observations regarding the progress of the treatments;
  • Discussing the restoration goals in relation to those observations; and
  • Exchanging ideas about the applicability of the different treatments and their observed effects on the larger landscape.  

The learning exchange began at Arroyo de los Pinos Reales, where Jan-Willem Jansens of Ecotone Landscape Planning walked participants through thinning treatments and highlighted structures installed to slow and contain water and sediment in the arroyo. At this site, some of the questions explored included the extent to which grasses and forbs have been able to regenerate, the role that prescribed fire might play in this system, and how to replicate these treatments at a larger scale (see Implementation of Savanna and Woodland Restoration handout). In the afternoon, the group visited the Copper Hill restoration site to explore different interpretations of the restoration prescriptions applied to ponderosa and piñon-juniper woodlands at the site (see Rio Trampas CFRP Objectives and Agenda).

Take-aways from the Field

The learning exchange generated a rich discussion from which several overarching themes emerged. One theme pertained to the human factors on the landscape. In talking about the areas where houses and other property exist within the forested landscape—also known as the Wildland-Urban Interface, or WUI—Kyle Sahd of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) observed that the WUI itself is subjective: the designation depends on how and where a given community defines it. What is key, in thinking about fire risk mitigation, is to consider how far a fire could move in a two-day event. Elyssa Duran, also of the BLM, reminded the group of the enormous variation when it comes to restoration treatments across a landscape. Many restoration treatments use human selection (the practitioner’s) to mimic natural processes. For that reason, even where ecological conditions are similar across locations, site objectives can be very different based on desired outcomes regarding human safety, aesthetics, or wildlife habitat, to name a few.

A second theme to emerge from the discussion was the importance of taking action now with a mind to future conditions—not only the present ones. In other words, we must look at the present landscape, then picture turning up the dial on the thermostat over the next few years. What will be the forest and fire dynamics under conditions of hotter summers with lower precipitation? According to Mark Schuetz of Watershed Dynamics, we will never be able to immunize a system against 80-degree days with dry winds blowing. On some days, however, the treatments will make a difference in fire outcomes. In this way, the best we can do is to focus on restoring resilience to fire-affected systems.

Lastly, a constant thread running through the day’s conversations was the magnitude of wildfire risk across the landscape and the need, given finite resources, to be strategic about bringing resilience treatments to scale. It is not possible to treat every acre; however, land managers can leverage impact by focusing on high-priority areas and working with landscape features such as natural fuel breaks.

For the full conversation, see Field Notes

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STEWARDSHIP BID ANNOUNCEMENT, DueSeptember 23, 2016 Forest Stewards Guild, in collaboration with the NM State Land Office and with funding from the US Forest Service is requesting stewardship bids from qualified and insured contractors specializing in ecological restoration of forests, woodlands, and watersheds. Particular experience in forest and woodland thinning is recommended.

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Collaboration in forest restoration, planning, implementation, and monitoring in the Rio Trampas Watershed

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A two-day watershed restoration workshop was held in August 2015 near Dixon. More information about the workshops can be found in the announcement.

The workshops led to a stewardship bid process to restore woodlands and improve soils near Dixon NM. Access the RFP here.

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Missed it? View the 11/21/2014 webinar, Working Across Fencelines: Multijurisdicional Planning and Prescribed Fire here to learn about experiences from two landscapes. In partnership with the Southwest Fire Science Consortium.

Access the updated (11/7/2014) informational brochure here to learn about the November 20th Meeting in Dixon at 5:15pm at the Community Center and on November 21st in Penasco at 5:00pm at the community center (PACA).

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November 15th, Watershed Restoration "Show-Me" Trip
This field trip will lead to two restoration sites in the Canoncito Community east of Dixon, and is part of the Rio de las Trampas Forest & Watershed Restoration Planning project (CFRP) in the Lower Embudo Valley. The purpose of the field trip is to offer potential contractors an opportunity to orient themselves toward a potential future project, to offer students a real-life/outdoor learning opportunity, and to provide all participants, including residents and representatives of land management agencies, an opportunity to give us feedback on previously implemented land restoration projects as well as on some newly planned projects. The field trip involves a total of about 2 miles of hiking in rough terrain on BLM and State lands.

DATE:             Saturday, November 15, 2014
TIME:               9:30 am – 1:30 pm (gather at 9:15)
LOCATION:     At the beginning of CR 69 (end of State Rd 580), which is the dirt road to Ojo Sarco
(see map at: https://www.google.com/maps/dir/36.1795339,-105.838727/36.1795176,-105.8386936/@36.1915185,-105.8694544,14z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e0)
BRING: Sturdy, all weather clothes and hiking boots, water/beverage, and a snack/lunch

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The Forest Stewards Guild, through support from the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program (CFRP) has led a watershed-scale multi-jurisdictional planning effort with the Camino Real Ranger District of the Carson National Forest, the Taos Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, the Pueblo of Picuris, and the New Mexico State Land Office. A diverse array of partners and communities are working to increase resilience to the forested Rio de las Trampas (Rio Trampas ) watershed.

The 2011 planning project proposal can be accessed here. A map of the watershed planning area can be accessed here. Specifically on Bureau of Land Management managed lands, 52 acres of riparian bosque forest have been prioritized (access a map here to view the areas) for forest restoration treatments near Dixon due to their poor ecological condition. Non-native invasive tree species such as flammable salt cedar, Russian olive, and Siberian elm now occupy much of the forest canopy.

In 2011, a diverse group of stakeholders gathered to prioritize watershed attributes. This prioritization was used to drive a computer based model to identify areas for forest restoration activities. A summary of that effort can be accessed here.

In 2014 the Forest Stewards Guild with support from a diverse group of collaborators submitted a proposal to the CFRP for the first phase of forest and watershed restoration in the Rio Trampas watershed. The proposed treatment areas are on state trust lands managed by the State Land Office. The proposal was recommended for funding by the technical advisory panel. The proposal can be accessed here and a map of the proposed treatment areas can be accessed here. More detailed maps of the treatment areas on state trust lands can be accessed here and here.

The Forest Stewards Guild also supports and collaborates with the Arid Lands Institute (ALI) and Ecotone Consulting on their complimentary efforts in the Rio Trampas watershed. An updated copy of their watershed based plan for the landscape can be accessed here. A video from ALI showing the effects of a 2014 summer monsoon in the watershed can be accessed here.