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News Release

Date: August 26, 2014

New Mexico’s forest health information now available

FORT COLLINS, Colo., August 26, 2014 – The public, forest managers, and scientists now have the most comprehensive inventory of forest health trends in New Mexico’s history. Through a successful partnership between the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station and the New Mexico State Forestry Division the results of a multi-year forest study are now available.

Given that 44 percent of New Mexico’s forests are tied to private and tribal lands, it was critical for the U.S. Forest Service and the State to work together on the inventory.

“This partnership offers more than a broader understanding in forest health trends,” said Sara Goeking, the report’s lead author and Biological Scientist with the Interior West Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. “Together we can share the results of this inventory and enlist private landowner support in obtaining future data.”

From 2008 through 2012, researchers studied forested lands on more than 3,000 areas across New Mexico. Researchers will continue to study New Mexico’s forest health trends and plan to publish updates every five years.

“A significant trend we found was an overall increase in tree mortality and decline in tree growth,” said Goeking. “Major factors affecting forest health include insects, wildfires and disease, all of which are related to multiyear weather patterns such as drought.” Goeking explained that the report offers other information as well.

“We found that the State’s most important piñon and juniper species, often used for firewood and biomass, showed positive growth rates.”

While the primary focus of the inventory is forest health, it contains information that may be applied beyond forest management issues. Land managers can use the data to better understand wildlife habitat for species such as the northern flicker and the acorn wood pecker.

“The Forest Inventory Analysis field inventory has been an incredibly important step for us to take here in New Mexico so we don’t lose touch with what’s going on in our forests and watersheds,” said State Forestry FIA Coordinator Mary Stuever. “We as New Mexicans are closely tied with our natural surroundings on both historical and cultural levels, which makes this analysis even more vital to help us learn to be better stewards of the land.”

New Mexico’s forests encompass many ecosystems, from mesquite and juniper woodlands in the southern deserts and steppes to the timber forests in the southern Rocky Mountains. The forests provide watershed, recreational and scenic values; wildlife habitat; wood products; economic benefits to surrounding communities; and traditional resources such as food and dyes.

“Almost every community in New Mexico exists in or near forested land of one kind or another,” said Stuever. “Each of these areas is vital for our culture, economic development, recreation and quality of life and must be cared for.”

To view the full report, New Mexico’s Forest Resources, 2008-2012, visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_rb018.html

The Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program was responsible for coordinating this effort. The FIA program reports resource status and trends while preserving ownership confidentiality. Since 1928, FIA has been the nation’s only comprehensive field-based inventory across all forest ownerships. Forest inventories offer land managers important insight into forest health trends so they can better manage natural resources.

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) is one of seven regional units that make up the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development organization - the most extensive natural resources research organization in the world. The Station maintains 12 field laboratories throughout a 12 state territory encompassing the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Great Plains, and administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds, while maintaining long-term databases for these areas. RMRS research is broken into seven science program areas that serve the Forest Service as well as other federal and state agencies, international organizations, private groups, and individuals. To find out more about the RMRS go to www.fs.fed.us/rmrs. You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usfs_rmrs.


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Media Contacts

Denise Adamic
Public Affairs Specialist
Rocky Mountain Research Station
Phone: 970-498-1372

Dan Ware
New Mexico State Forestry
Fire Prevention and Outreach Program Manager
Phone: 505-476-3336