Successful Aerial Seed Applications Over Weekend & Continuing Today
Incident: Tres Lagunas Post-Fire Response Burned Area Emergency Response
PECOS, NM – Aerial rehabilitation operations continue over the Santa Fe National Forest today as teams work to stabilize soils after the Tres Lagunas Fire.
The Tres Lagunas Post-Fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team and contractors report a successful weekend of rehabilitation and soil stabilization treatments over the burn scar within the Santa Fe National Forest.
To promote forest regrowth, the BAER team is dropping five types of grasses from an aircraft at specific burn scar locations identified in an assessment. The most productive aerial operations occurred on Sunday, with six plane-loads of seeds getting dropped prior to afternoon rains. Five plane-loads were dropped on Saturday and four on Friday, for a total of 15 as of Sunday night. Each plane-load contains 4,400 pounds of seed. The operations are continuing Monday and until 1,141 acres of public lands are successfully treated.
The air craft is staged at the Las Vegas, NM airport. Seed is loaded into the craft along with electronic mapping data. The pilot then flies over specified burn scar zones. A combination of five types of grass seed should sprout within a week and will promote immediate growth. Once sprouted, the grasses act as nursery, stimulating indigenous forest regrowth.
During the aerial seed drops, the BAER Team has eight inspectors on the ground monitoring and verifying the exact location and amounts of seeds being dropped. The aerial operations are currently limited to morning hours because afternoon monsoonal rains and winds prohibit flight.
Inspectors Hike in above Davis Willow Camp Ground to Monitor Seed Application; Reporters from ABC TV7 and ABQ Journal Observe Operations
Once the seed is applied, the next action is to apply straw mulch over specified forest areas. The mulch retains water, which aids in seed sprouting and slows water runoff. However, hydrology modeling indicates that many areas within or downstream from the fire burn scar will experience twice as much flooding for several years during annual monsoons.
To alleviate stress within the Holy Ghost Creek and Pecos River, the BAER team is also hiring a contractor who will remove stream debris, such as burned trees or ashen mud that flowed into the water after rains.
The New Mexico State Police continue the Highway 63 closure within the Pecos Canyon, from mile marker 15 northbound. The Department of Transportation continues road work as warranted by flooding. Heavy equipment and BAER Team personnel are working within these areas. The Santa Fe National Forest recreation areas remain closed within the Pecos Canyon.
The Tres Lagunas Fire burned 10,219 acres. The fire was human-caused when electrical lines went down on May 30th, igniting Ponderosa pine and other timbers.