Santa Fe Watershed 2004 >

Improved Project ImplementationImproved Accountability and Oversight
Improved Community Involvement
Monitoring Concerns

Update: Santa Fe Watershed, 2004

 

Improved Community Involvement


Wildland/Urban Interface Specialist

In February 2003, Shelley Nolde was hired by the Santa Fe Fire Department as the Wildland/Urban Interface Specialist. Nolde's job has three main components including 1) liaison with the USFS on the SFMWP; 2) working with the community on fuels reduction; and 3) bringing the city fire department into the wildland arena.

While not directly related to the SFMWP, Nolde has been working to increase awareness about fire danger throughout Santa Fe. The California fires in 2003 and the high mortality rate of pinon pines in the area have created a window of opportunity to educate the public. The Santa Fe Pinon Initiative Steering Group is a stakeholder group made up of state, county and city public officials working to provide the public with information about the changing pinon landscape and the fire hazard it poses. Because of the large number of dead trees, the city of Santa Fe is chipping the debris and storing the woody material for use in highway stabilization projects. In December 2003 Nolde held her first community briefing and about 150 people attended. Printed media also has been an effective way to reach the public, since Santa Fe residents are highly educated and well read. In April 2004 Nolde wrote a newspaper insert about living with drought. Nolde also prepares home assessments and has completed between 30-40 since August 2003. In 2004 Santa Fe received two National Fire Plan grants. One was a hazardous fuels reduction grant for $156,000 that allows the Santa Fe Fire Department to survey, model and plan fuel reduction projects on city land near the southwest Watershed boundary. The Fire Department also received an $180,000 State Fire Assistance grant that will be used for public outreach and fuels reduction on public and private property and host chipper days in neighborhoods.

SFWA Monthly Hikes

Beginning in the summer of 2003 the Santa Fe Watershed Association resumed hikes into the watershed to showcase and monitor the on-going work. From 1998 through the summer of 2002 the SFWA and the City worked together to hold hikes through the SF Watershed to promote the thinning project, but they ceased after the SFMWP EIS was completed. SFWA resumed the hikes in 2003 with great success. They are scheduled for the second Saturday of each month. Don Peterson, the contractor, and Dave Isackson, the Contracting Officer representative and Assistant Fire Management Officer, participate in the monthly hikes and talk about the project details. Anywhere from 12-30 people usually join the hike. In November 2003, representatives from a number of the environmental groups that were initially opposed to the SFMWP attended the hike. Members from the Santa Fe Forest Watch commented that they were pleased with the progress.

A More Engaged Community

According to the USFS, the community is more engaged in the sense that they are more aware of fuels reduction activity in the watershed and the need for both thinning and burning. This is a result of USFS outreach efforts, Shelley Nolde's work, as well as SFWA Executive Director Paige Grant's efforts in leading tours throughout the watershed. People have a heightened interest towards fire danger because of the national attention of recent high profile wildfires. According to Grant, the public seems to better understand the issues. The interest in the watershed hikes "suggests that a lot of people with a low-level interest in the project like to get out at least once to see for themselves what's going on".

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Copyright©2004 Toddi A. Steelman and North Carolina State University

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