Forest Thinning Project Awarded

Alamogordo, NM (September 23, 2011) – The Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest has awarded the Pines Stewardship Project (Pines) around the Pines Campground located north of the Village of Cloudcroft. The Pines project will treat approximately 156 acres of land through harvesting and thinning and includes areas south of Pines campground, east of the Osha trail, and west of the Hwy 82 Hwy 244 junction.

The Pines project is part of three different larger projects including: Rio Penasco II, Sacramento Mountain Defoliator, and Cloudcroft Defoliator. It is located within the Southern Sacramento Mountains Restoration Project proposal area, and targets fuels reduction, stimulates rural economic development through wood product sales and thinning/mastication services, provides protection of threatened and/or endangered species (i.e., Mexican Spotted Owl and Sacramento Mountain Salamander) habitat, and enhances recreational opportunities.

The Pines project was identified as a high priority area by the Otero County Working Group (OWG) because of the high density of hazard trees and its adjacency to the Village of Cloudcroft. The project will specifically remove the dead standing trees, improve overall forest health, and reduce fire danger in the area. The project combines treatments in mixed conifer cover types, and will address all the dead standing and down fuels on the ground. Remaining live trees will be thinned to a USDA Forest Service prescription which will improve the aesthetic quality of an area that is used heavily by locals and tourists.

Other work to be completed during the project includes removing trees that blew over during a wind event in 2009, rolling up and removing fences that are no longer in use, removing and/or masticating all slash and dead material not needed to maintain habitat conditions for wildlife and watershed protection. Throughout the project there will be special emphasis and care taken for the recreational assets in the area, protection of historical sites, and the creation of openings for possible wildlife use and viewing.

The Pines Stewardship project is just one of several timber projects going on in the Cloudcroft area. Other projects include the South Skyline Project, the House and Puff Salvage Sales, and the Rawlins Stewardship project which are collectively treating 1,032 acres. The term “Stewardship” refers to a type of contract that allows the Forest Service to trade goods for services. During the bid process there are bids taken for the value of the sawtimber and a separate bid for the service items, such as removing fences, or thinning of small trees. After the bid has been accepted the value of the sawtimber is deducted from the cost of the service work.

The contract for the Pines project was awarded to Turkey Creek in Alamogordo, as a stewardship contract through the USDA Forest Service. Turkey Creek was chosen to do this project based on past performance on various projects awarded on the Lincoln National Forest.

Work will begin on the project in the next few weeks with the first tasks to remove the old pasture fences removal of dead woody material.