By RPN Staff
From April to June 2022, the County of San Miguel experienced the largest and most destructive wildfire in New Mexico’s history. In the aftermath of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire, the removal of the trees became critical for both economic and public safety and had to be done quickly to harvest the wood for lumber and mitigate the risk of another wildfire spreading.
San Miguel County in partnership with RPN Northern New Mexico Pathways Economic Development District and Barela Timber Management Company moved swiftly to begin the debarking composition process. They secured $500,000 in a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to purchase seven pieces of timber harvesting equipment, including bark peelers, skid steers, loaders, and a trailer in support of the project.
“The number of jobs to be created and the generation of additional revenue will be a significant and perpetual boost to this low-income, high poverty local economy,” said Michael Rivera, Supervisory Community Liaison for New Mexico. “This project also reduces the risk of future catastrophic wildfires.”
BTMC contributed the required $500,000 match through the purchase of a debarker, two tree forwarders/harvesters and a skid steer. With the addition of this equipment, BTMC estimates they can address at least 1,000 acres in service of timber removal and make forest health improvements in wood products.
This project is projected to add 15 total jobs and generate over $1.2 million in additional revenue and was one of the Community Network’s first successes since joining Rural Partners Network. The Northern New Mexico Community Network is working to address housing, infrastructure, economic development, rural healthcare, and other pressing needs for the residents of their community.
Read more about the Northern New Mexico Development Community Network to learn more.