The Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon on Thursday, March 6. Before the featured speaker, Gila National Forest Supervisor Kelly Russell gave her presentation, Bruce Ashburn of PNM presented a check to the chamber to sponsor the 4th of July activities.
Russell said she has been in the supervisor post since March 2011. "This is the 107th birthday of the Gila National Forest and the 115th anniversary of the Gila Forest Reserve, the precursor to the Gila Wilderness."
She said the 3.3 million acres of Gila National Forest actually includes part of the Apache National Forest, which is the part of the forest located in New Mexico. 
"We have 790,000 acres of wilderness and 1,600 miles of trail," Russell said. 
She said fire season is on the minds of many people, including forest personnel. "The precipitation this week was great, but it's not enough. We need that much twice a week for the next three months to make a difference. We had good rains last year and now we have the brown grass, which is very dry."
She said March 7 is the third anniversary of the Quail Ridge Fire. "I was just moving in when I saw smoke that was too close. Starting Friday and continuing Saturday at the Western New Mexico University (Besse-Forward) Global Resource Center is the Grant County Symposium on Preparedness. I encourage everyone to come by. There will be different topics to interest almost everyone. The New Mexico Department of Health will have a brown bag lunch and a panel on smoke and its health effects."
Russell said the forest's Dispatch is operating seven days a week. "We are bringing in a helicopter early. We have already had eight wildfires in February, with most from campfires or welding sparks. The Hot Shots are coming in April."
She said the forest was trying to do prescribed burns, but "only if conditions are right. I have the feeling we will not be able to do as many this year."
In the three years Russell has been supervisor, she said more than 533,000 acres in the Gila have burned. "Thank goodness there have been no major injuries or fatalities."
Last week's Fifth Annual Gila Natural History Symposium showed results of studies on the seeding and mulching done post-fire in the forest. 
"We sell timber on the Gila," Russell said. "Not as much as we used to, and mostly in the Reserve and Quemado districts. We sell about 10,000 hundred cubic feet (ccf) a year and we have Christmas tree permits. Our range program continues, as cows have been here as long as the forest has. We have 120 permittees.
"I know some of you are interested in the Travel Management Plan," Russell continued. "We expect it to be completed next month, mid-April. It will come out and people will be able to review it and can appeal it. Then there may be lawsuits. I hope it is done by the end of summer. The map of roads will be released the end of summer into the first part of fall. We will use time to educate people."
She said, in the fall, the forest would have to start its Land Management Plan. "That takes a few years, too."
The Gila National Forest has 185 full-time employees and about 150 part-time ones.
"We are renewing the lease on our office," Russell said. "So we'll be around a few more years."
She announced the Catwalk would reopen the first weekend in April in conjunction with the Glenwood Dutch Oven Cook-off. "The flood was a 1,000-year event," she said. "The trail is even with the creek now and lots of the Catwalk is no longer there."
Russell said the area would be open to the primitive steps. "We will work with local folks on the vision for the Catwalk.
The Gila Wilderness was one of the first wildernesses created after the Wilderness Act was passed 50 years ago. "We are working with the Silver City Museum to have an exhibition about the wilderness. "
She said a national symposium on wilderness would be held in October in Albuquerque.
"The Kingston Campground was wiped out, but we will open it first as a picnic area," Russell said. "McMillan and Cherry Creek campgrounds will be open April 1. The town of Silver City is working for the first ever Gateway Community to the Continental Divide Trail.
"We appreciate our partners and our volunteers," Russell concluded.
Questions and comments will continue in a subsequent article.

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

The Grant County Beat endeavors to post to the Elections page, under News, at the least, notices of candidates for Grant County races. Some candidates for statewide races have also sent their notices. 

The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Note: This is another component that is in progress of going to a different software to make it easier for you to use and find classifieds that interest you. Check Out Classifieds. And look at Sponsors to see who is helping the Beat.

It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Note that if an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

When you click on the blue and orange button on the upper left side of most pages, you will find out how you can help the Beat defray its expenses, which, with increased readership, continue to grow. You will arrive at a page that gives you options of how you can Help the Beat. All help is greatly appreciated and keeps the news you want and need coming into your browser.

Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com