City, located in Grant County, lies in southwestern New
Mexico at the base of the Pinos Altos Mountains. The
city borders the southern edge of Gila National Forest and
is a short distance from the scenic Gila Wilderness Area.
City is designated one of the state's top twenty communities
most threatened by catastrophic wildfire. At an elevation
of just under 6,000 feet, the surrounding forests are composed
of pinon-juniper and ponderosa pine with some mountain mahogany
and scrub oak.
to the 2000
census, the average household income is $25,661 and
the average home value is $87,700. About 10% of the homes
are seasonally occupied with over 10,000 people living in
Silver City. The area has a staggering unemployment rate
of 14% and recently lost another 700 jobs with the shut
down of Stream, an international call center. The semi-arid
climate with four mild seasons attracts a growing retirement
population. In the past, the Silver City area depended on
mining and ranching for employment and economic stability.
A decline in the mining industry in recent years has seen
an economic shift to tourism and retirement.
City has not experienced a wildfire in its wildland urban
interface, but has taken actions to address its threat.
The response to the threat of wildfire has been coordinated
through the National Fire Plan Implementation Team (NFPIT).
NFPIT is composed of many agencies and organizations that
have differing sets of responsibility for wildfire issues
in Grant County and Silver City. The NFPIT mission statement
says their goal is, "To create a community that is
in continuous harmony with the regional environment-by integrating
wildfire issues with the broader goals of ecosystem restoration
and social and economic development".
was founded in the fall of 2000 as a "multi-agency,
community-driven effort on developing strategies and projects
that address: fire planning, forest restoration, fuels reduction,
public outreach and economic development". NFPIT emerged
from a previous organization, the Local Emergency Planning
Council (LEPC). Frank Kenney had coordinated LEPC beginning
in 1999 and also heads NFPIT. Kenney is a retired police
officer who is funded for part-time work on NFPIT through
New Mexico State Forestry (NMSF).
meetings are monthly and allow the multiple participants
involved in the wildfire problem to meet and discuss current
issues, problems and opportunities. Participants also have
continuous situations of one-on-one interaction depending
on the given issue or problem. Good coordination stems from
the LEPC. Resident and agency workers involved in NFPIT
tend to have worked in Silver City for long periods of time
giving them a strong attachment and commitment to place.
According to Doug Boykin, Soccoro
District Forester (NMSF), "There are different
agendas, but no hidden agendas" in NFPIT.