On August 23rd, Mescalero Apache Tribal President accompanied with the Superintendent of BIA-Mescalero Agency, signed the Southern Sacramento Mountain Watershed and Forest Restoration Strategy at the Lincoln National Forest Headquarters.
By signing this document, partners involved support the restoration and treatment of watersheds and forests in Otero County.
It took the Strategy Plan two years to complete by several forest service partners, including some from the Mescalero Apache Tribe.
According to the Strategic Planning document, issues such as long-term drought , fires, lack of snow melt, and higher than normal temperatures have played a huge part in the watersheds and forests overall environmental health.
Hence, the critical call for collaborative efforts to treating vegetation through thinning and prescribed burning across the Southern Sacramento Mountains.
A good portion of the priority area that is imperative to the Strategic Plan is located on the reservation as well as surrounding areas like Cloudcroft, Tularosa, and Alamogordo.
The priority project area encompasses nearly 500,000 acres.
The Department of Resource Management and Protection (DRMP), representatives from the Mescalero Apache Tribe, and Bureau of Indian Affairs-Mescalero Agency, along with other Forest Service partners, were participants in a small group that met bi-monthly known as the Planning Group.
The Planning Group would serve to identify key strategies and steps needed to help the Otero Working Group (OWG) move forward in the collaborative effort of restoring watersheds and treating forests in the Southern Sacramento Mountains.
Five areas were defined by the OWG plus an additional area which totaled six areas of high priority identified by the OWG with the aid of the Planning Group.
For example, an area called Two Goats-High Rolls-Maruchi area has already started the vegetation treatment with regard to watershed restoration in the southwest area of the reservation.
The series of treatments to the surrounding areas will continue over multiple years according to the high priority areas listed by the OWG. Furthermore, the western edge of the reservation, described as Tularosa Creek by the OWG, will undergo vegetation treatment following the Two Goats-High Rolls-Maruchi treatment.
With the tribe participating in the Planning Group, they assisted the Otero Working Group’s (OWG) goal in bringing together stakeholders with an interest in restoring watersheds and treating forests in the Southern Sacramento Mountains to reduce the risks associated with catastrophic wildfires.
For more information, please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/lincoln/home