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Involving Rural Communities In Forest Management: New Mexico’s Collaborative Forest Restoration Program

In the past decade, forest restoration and community wildfire protection have become increasingly important as fire suppression and other human activities have led to increased tree densities and an increased fire risk in forests throughout New Mexico and the southwestern United States. This increased fire risk comes at a time when the wildland-urban interface is steadily expanding in New Mexico, particularly in forested regions that are desired vacation destinations such as Ruidoso, Taos, Red River, and Silver City. In response, forest managers and landowners want to thin forests to reduce hazardous fuel loads and to “restore” forests to pre-European settlement conditions when tree densities were lower and fire disturbance was frequent but less severe, especially in ponderosa pine dominated forests (Covington et al. 1997).

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