Tribes benefit from wildland fire protection at Interior Department

A prescribed burn at Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico helps restore the natural habitat and protects from future fires. Photo from DOI

Tribes in New Mexico and Nevada will benefit from wildland fire protection projects at the Interior Department.

As part of the Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes Program, $400,000 will be spent to restore natural landscapes at Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico. The tribe suffered from three devastating fires since 1998 that burned 67 percent of timberland on the reservation and caused significant flooding of cultural and food sites.

"The protection of these areas is critical to the long-term stabilization of the watershed and vital to the short and long-term economic well-being of the Pueblo in terms of timber harvest and employment," DOI said in an announcing the project, for which the Bureau of Indian Affairs will serve as the lead agency.

A view of the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. Photo from Brian0918 / Wikipedia

Elsewhere in New Mexico, $883,000 will be spent at the Valles Caldera National Preserve, an area also hit by fires. Jemez Pueblo, whose aboriginal connection to the land has been recognized in court, and Santa Clara Pueblo is part of a collaborative effort with multiple public and private partners to protect the land from future blazes

"The VALL collaborative is intended to treat nearly 50,000 acres to decrease the likelihood of severe burning, increase resiliency following fires, and increase opportunities to use natural and planned fire as a beneficial process," DOI said. The National Park Service will serve as the lead.

Summit Lake Mountain in Nevada. Photo from DOI

Finally $3,984,250 will be spent at the Greater Sheldon Hart Mountain to restore natural sagebrush and grasses in Nevada, Oregon and California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead agency on a project that includes the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada.

“These projects will help restore critical landscapes, which is essential for mitigating the impacts of fire and climate change,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a press release. “The benefits of increasing the resiliency of our lands and waters to wildfires are wide-ranging, from conserving native species like the greater sage-grouse to restoring rangelands, forests and watersheds. These projects support our efforts to protect our nation’s landscapes for this and future generations.”

A total of $10 million will spent on the program.

Get the Story:
13 states to share $10 million to reduce wildfire risks (AP 6/12)
Valles Caldera, Santa Clara Pueblo get funding for wildfire prevention (The Albuquerque Journal 6/13)

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