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Silver Fire BAER Implementation Progressing

Photos Courtesy of Gila National Forest

Silver City, NM; July 25, 2013—“The Gila National Forest’s Silver Fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) seeding and mulching are progressing well on the high burn severity areas,” stated Tracy Weber, BAER Implementation Leader.  Approximately 11,500 acres of high burn severity will be seeded with 2,800 acres mulched.  An additional 1,447 acres will be seeded on the north end of the burned area as Phase II of the Silver Fire BAER effort.  This project should start early next week.

Seeding reduces negative effects to downstream life, property, and infrastructure by reducing erosion and water runoff. High burn severity areas are being seeded with a quick germinating, annual barley seed that provides rapid ground cover for this year. After the first year of its application, the barley grass dies and does not return.
Native long-lasting (perennial) species are also included in the seed mix to give the burned area a jump start in its natural recovery, and provide for long-term ground cover. The seed mix is 47% barley with the remainder consisting of native seeds.
Seeding is being conducted from the Forest’s Air Tanker Base south of the Town of Hurley, and is expected to be completed within the next few days. The fixed wing airplane, known as an “air tractor”, takes up to 45 minutes per round trip for the aerial drop. Air tractors are normally used in wildland fires for seeding, and as single engine air tankers for fire retardant drops.
Mulching is also going on at the same time with operations conducted out of Emory Pass off NM State Highway 152   Three helicopters are being used to lift nets filled with straw bales that have been “fluffed” (broken up) for  effective dispersal on high burn severity areas. The straw mulch provides immediate ground cover, and controls erosion and water runoff. It also assists in stabilizing soil in and around these areas, and promotes seed germination and overall seeding success.
With helicopters operating out of Emory Pass, semi-truckloads of straw bales parked west of the Pass, and heavy equipment operating along the state highway, NM 152 continues to be closed to provide for public safety. Expected date of re-opening is August 5, 2013. NM Department of Transportation road closure information can be found at www.nmdot.com, or by calling 511.
Please contact Implementation Leader Tracy Weber, 575.388.8382, for further information. 

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