The Sacramento District Review – November 2011

In this Month’s Issue:

Burned Area Emergency Response Program
Christmas Tree Sales
Invasive Noxious Weeds
The Ranger’s Report

The Sacramento District Review is a monthly newsletter prepared by the Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest.

The Sacramento Ranger District Office is located in the Village of Cloudcroft, at #4 Lost Lodge Road, one mile south of Highway 82 on Highway 130.

We are open Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed Saturdays, Sundays and Federal Holidays.

For more information about the Sacramento Ranger District and the Lincoln National Forest go to:


Burned Area Emergency Response Program

– Mark Cadwallader

Mayhill fire burned site after aerial mulching

On the afternoon of May 9, 2011, the Mayhill Fire started. The wind-driven fire pushed north and east, narrowly skirting the community of Mayhill. The fire resulted in the loss of several homes and structures, affecting National Forest, BLM, State, private, and tribal lands.

The effect of wildfires, like the Mayhill Fire, does not end with control of the blaze. Wildfires can create situations that require special efforts to prevent further resource damage after the fire has occurred. Loss of existing vegetation exposes soil to erosion, leaving burn areas subject to flash food events. Sediment carried downstream can result in damage to property and roads as well as erosion of canyon bottoms and stream courses.

Federal agencies utilize the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program to address these situations with the goal of protecting life, property, water quality, and deteriorated ecosystems from further damage after the fire is out.

Concern for possible post-fire effects on fish, wildlife, archeological sites and endangered species is often a primary consideration in the development of a BAER plan.

Crews construct erosion control structures

BAER efforts focus on “first aid” – immediate stabilization that often begins before a fire is fully contained. BAER does not seek to replace what was damaged by fire, but to reduce further damage due to the land being temporarily exposed in a fragile condition.

In order to mitigate the potential impacts of the Mayhill Fire, Lincoln National Forest officials put together a BAER team comprised of resource specialists. Working cooperatively with affected landowners and other agencies, the team identified areas of concern and developed a plan to minimize soil degradation in affected watersheds and minimize the impact of burn debris to downstream private lands and roadways.

Trash rack designed to trap debris

The first step in a BAER assessment is classification and mapping of burn severity into 3 levels; high, moderate and low. BAER practices focus treatment efforts on high burn severity areas and some moderate burn severity areas dependent on risk factors relating to potential resource damage. From a burn severity standpoint, the Mayhill Fire was classified as 91.7% low severity, 7.8% moderate and 0.5% high severity. Low severity burn effects are at the level normally associated with prescribed fire objectives and are generally beneficial to forest health as a whole. Most of the moderate and high severity burn areas were near the town of Mayhill and adjacent to highway 82. Treatment efforts were targeted to those areas. Practices designed to meet those objectives included the following:

• Aerially seeding 621 acres of moderate and high severity burn areas on National Forest lands to minimize erosion from heavy run-off.

• Aerially mulching 70 acres of moderate severity burn areas to reduce risks to public safety on Highway 82

• Constructing over 100 low-log structures in McGee Canyon drainages and tributaries to minimize disastrous run-off of water and debris into lower elevations. This work was accomplished by local equipment contractors, local contract crews, and local USFS crews.

To date, the Mayhill Fire site has not experienced significant flooding. It is hoped that the rehab work accomplished this summer will continue to minimize flooding impacts to the areas downstream.


November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.”

– Elizabeth Coatsworth


Christmas Tree Sales

Lincoln National Forest will be selling Christmas Tree Permits for five dollars each between November 1st and December 23rd at all District Office’s and at the Supervisor’s Office in Alamogordo. The permits will be available for purchase ONLY at Forest Service offices or through a mail-in application which can be printed on-line at: or picked up at various retailers in New Mexico and Texas. Mail-in applications must be received by December 11th.



Invasive Noxious Weeds

– Mark Cadwallader

Musk Thistle Flower

A noxious weed is an invasive non-native species whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic, environmental harm, or harm to human health. The term “noxious” is used for the most aggressive species. These species grow and reproduce rapidly, causing major disturbance.

Invasive species, if left untreated, pose serious threats to native species because they have no natural enemies to keep populations in balance. Invasive species can affect your ability to enjoy hunting, hiking, fishing, camping, and almost any other recreational activity.

The United States suffers over 100 billion dollars per year in economic losses due to invasive non-native species.

Are there noxious weed issues on the Lincoln National Forest?
Yes, there are several species on the Lincoln National Forest that are considered noxious. The most prominent and widespread is musk thistle or nodding thistle (Carduus nutans), a member of the sunflower family. The USDA Forest Service and Otero Soil and Water Conservation District are actively involved in control programs, but the species continues to expand its range.

Musk Thistle

Musk thistle is an herbaceous plant that grows to 6 ft. (1.8 m) tall, and can be recognized by its showy, red-purple flowers and very spiny stem and leaves. The large, disk-shaped, terminal flower heads droop when mature.
Musk thistle invades a variety of disturbed areas. Pastures are particularly at risk because musk thistle is generally unpalatable to livestock. Once established, it can spread rapidly due to high seed production (as many as 120,000 seeds per plant).

Musk thistle is native to Western Europe and was accidentally introduced into the United States in the early 1900s. Since that time, it has spread across much of the US and represents a serious threat to lands of all jurisdictions.

Keep on the lookout for this species. Consult your local Soil and Water Conservation District office for control practices on private land and your local Forest Service office if you see this species on National Forest lands. Education and public awareness are key to protecting our environment from invasive species.

According to the USDA, these are the most common invasive weeds in Arizona and New Mexico. The USDA lists these weeds as the Dirty Dozen:

Leafy Spurge

• Salt cedar

• Russian olive

• Siberian elm

• Leafy spurge

• Starthistles: yellow and Malta

• Knapweeds: Russian, diffuse and spotted

• Thistles: musk, bull, Scotch and Canada

• Toadflax: Dalmation and yellow

• Perennial pepperweed

• Camelthorn

• Hoary Cress (whitetop)

• Buffelgrass



The Ranger’s Report

James Duran, Sacramento District Ranger

I thought this month I would address two questions. The first question that came my way is, “Why isn’t the slash pit open at all times or at least during the weekends?”

The slash pit is used primarily as an administrative site to haul slash and woody materials from projects, including the removal of hazard trees from roadways and campgrounds. The Pit is then open to the public for disposing of woody material, and once full, it is burned.

Some important factors that impact the management of the slash pit include weather conditions that allow the pit to be burned safely as well as the need for administrative woody material disposal. The pit, although large, can only hold so much material before it gets too big to efficiently and safely burn.

The slash pit area was recently used for a staging area to stockpile hazard trees that were removed during the summer of 2011. The trees were offered to the public for firewood through free use wood permits.

Another question received was, “Why are the campgrounds only open during the summer?”

This really has to do with the amount of maintenance required to properly administer campgrounds during the winter season typical of the Cloudcroft area.
Just consider snow removal needs. Many of the volunteers who assist the USDA Forest Service in managing the campgrounds prefer a warmer season when living outdoors is a bit more pleasant.

Campground management is also based on public demand, and usually there is a drop in campground usage on the District once the first freeze comes.

It is great to hear from you all, and I wanted to thank everyone who has provided positive feedback to this article. I will continue to provide information that helps in understanding the USDA Forest Service and the things we do.
Your questions can be submitted to: Ranger, Sacramento Ranger District, P.O. Box 288, Cloudcroft, NM 88317.



Write a letter to the Ranger

If you’ve ever wondered about timber harvests, endangered species, off-road vehicle use, or other natural resource management topics, this is your opportunity to get your answer.

Individuals aspiring to acquire knowledge about the US Forest Service are encouraged to escape the fast pace world of technology and write a good old fashion letter to the Ranger.

If you would like to write a letter to James Duran, Sacramento District Ranger please mail it to: P.O. Box 288, Cloudcroft, NM 88317.