The Sacramento District Review – March 2012

In this Month’s Issue:
Sombrero Prescribed Fire
Evening Lecture Series
Hazard Tree Mitigation
New Office Hours
The Ranger’s Report
The Sacramento District Review is a monthly newsletter prepared by the Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest.


Sombrero Prescribed Fire

– Thad Chavez

Ignition off of the southern control line

The Sombrero prescribed fire was implemented last fall on1,140 acres located on the southern end of the Sacramento Ranger District near the community of Timberon. Lincoln National Forest wildfire personnel and firefighters from the Timberon volunteer fire department contributed in prep work and implementation.

The Sombrero project began in 2007 by the Sacramento Ranger District wildlife biologist with the primary goal of improving mule deer habitat through the creation of one to five acre openings in the Piñon and Juniper woodland ecosystem woodlands ecosystem called patchcuts. These patchcut openings are areas where the majority of Piñon and Juniper trees are felled and left in place.

The secondary treatment is for prescribed fire to be implemented at least two years after the initial cuts occur. This timing allows for grass and forbs to become established as well as the curing of the slash. This treatment type or prescription improves wildlife habitat by increasing browse and forb production within the openings.

Much of the funding for this type of project is provided by the State of New Mexico Habitat Stamp Program because of the direct benefit to mule deer habitat at a landscape scale.

After treatment areas are cut and before they are prescribed burned, they are opened for public fuel wood gathering. In this process, the district timber personnel identify areas within a project that are accessible to the public and produce maps to distribute when a fuel wood permit is sold.

Fuel wood permits are then sold for these project areas at $20. Four cords can be cut per permit.

In the spring of 2011, the fire and fuels staff on the district planned for the prescribed fire of the Sombrero project area. The objective of the Sombrero prescribed fire was to consume a majority or the remainder of slash within the patchcuts that had not been harvested through fuel wood gathering.

The prescribed fire planning process for a project like this starts with experienced firefighters and prescribed fire specialists surveying the project area with the goal of developing an ignition and holding plan to safely implement the burn.

The project area was divided into six burn blocks that could be ignited, anticipating implementation would likely take several days. Burn blocks were chosen based on where viable control lines could be constructed and existing roads could be used as control lines. Roughly five miles of control line were constructed.

Additional prep work included the removal of threats to the control lines such as slash and snags that could potentially compromise the holding effort.

Prescribed fire in a pine stringer

For each prescribed fire, a plan is developed, and is a legal document that provides the Agency Administrator (District Ranger) the information needed to approve the plan and provides the Prescribed Fire Burn Boss with all the information needed to implement the prescribed fire.

Prescribed fire projects must be implemented in compliance with the written plan. Each prescribed fire plan has 21 elements that must be addressed to meet the USDA Forest Service policy requirements. Some of these elements include: resource objectives, prescription parameters, smoke management, fire behavior modeling and contingency planning.

For more information on prescribed fire planning, visit the Interagency Prescribed Fire Planning and Implementation Procedures Guide at this website.

Four-leaf Clover

Do you know why a four-leaf clover brings luck to its finder?
According to legend, each leaf represents something: the first is for faith, the second is for hope, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck.

March Madness

The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.
When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here.

~Author unknown


Evening Lecture Series

Join us on March 8th for the first of our evening lecture series, “Fire in the Sandbox” presented by Sacramento Ranger District Fire Managers.

The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with access to several wildland fire fighting vehicles, equipment, and crews available to visit with.

The evening lecture series will be held on the second Thursday of each month at the Sacramento Ranger District office at #4 Lost Lodge Road off of Hwy 130.

Presentations will include demonstrations and/or hands-on activities when possible.

The current schedule includes the following dates:
April 12th – TBA
May 10th – TBA

For generic nexium availability additional information please contact the District at: 575-682-2551.


Hazard Tree Mitigation

– Tony McWilliams

Preparing a face cut on a hazard tree

During the summer of 2011, the Sacramento Ranger District partnered with NM Department of Transportation (NMDOT) and the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, to remove hazardous trees along a stretch of US Hwy 82 just east of Cloudcroft along with several developed campgrounds.

Certified class C fallers, who are the most highly trained and experienced sawyers in the USDA Forest Service, from the Lincoln and Beaverhead/Deerlodge National Forests, worked to safely fall these trees and mitigate the hazard to the public.

Preliminary work was completed to identify and mark the hazard trees using the Southwestern Region standards for hazard tree identification.

Criteria were based on severity of defect and a potential target the tree could strike if it fell. Trees which were dead or dying, had signs of disease or rot, were leaning toward Hwy 82 or developed campsites were identified, documented and marked for removal.

Hazard tree before it was cut

U.S. Hwy 82 is a high traffic area which passes through National Forest system lands. This road is a main travel route to and from Cloudcroft and is used heavily by local residents, tourists, school buses, and others. The district consulted with NM DOT for traffic control and removal of debris from the roadway.

Even though most trees were outside of the highway right-of-way, they had a high potential to strike the roadway and pose a safety risk to traffic. Much of the wood from the hazardous trees was removed to another area and has been made available as fuelwood or logs to the local communities.

This project was a high priority for the district and was only possible through the cooperation of the multiple agencies involved. The district would like to thank all that were involved and the public for their patience and understanding.


New Office Hours

The Sacramento Ranger District Office hours will change on March 1st, 2012.

The new hours will be from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday, closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Federal Holidays.

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.

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

YCC applications will be available at the district office on March 1st. Please call Heather Berman for more information at 575-682-2551.


The Ranger’s Report

– James Duran

James Duran, District Ranger

As a father of two youngsters I am continually experiencing the joy of explaining life’s simple lessons in order to educate and prepare my children for future success. As the District Ranger, I am constantly asked important questions about the Forest Service, resource management or activities occurring around the district.

One of the areas where folks often wander into the unknown is in the areas of the USDA Forest Service administrative process required to authorize actions on National Forest system lands. Proposals are brought forth in a variety of complexities and two factors can guide the process to achievement.

Land Ownership – Where is the proposal occurring? Who owns or is charged with management of the land and who has jurisdiction over the land where the action is proposed? Are there multiple jurisdictions?

Proposed Action – Does the action align with the mission and land use goals designated by the Forest Service? Are new ground disturbing activities required to implement the proposal? What are the resource management goals already designated for the area where the proposal take place?

Of course there’s a great deal of additional information that is required to clearly identify the procedures that the Forest Service is required to follow in order to authorize action in compliance with law, regulation and policy. The two factors listed above can usually give a quick indication of the complexity of a proposal and associated time frames.

The answers to the questions addressing those factors will allow the Lincoln National Forest to plan, coordinate and consult with other stakeholders.

Many of the laws, regulations, and policies that guide our administrative process were put into place by our elected officials to protect all Americans and ensure their visions for land management agencies are considered during implementation.

It’s another part of the public service the USDA Forest Service provides to all Americans.

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.

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