Funding for the Silver Fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) implementation has been approved by USDA Forest Service, Washington Office. Bids for seeding contracts have been thoroughly evaluated and a contract has been awarded. Work is scheduled to begin Sunday, July 21, 2013. Bids for mulching have been received and are being evaluated.
Approximately 11,500 acres of high burn severity will be seeded and 2,900 acres mulched in the initial operations. Mulching for this phase will occur in the historic Hillsboro mining district to minimize effects to water quality, and potentially minimize negative downstream effects from mines and tailing piles.
The second phase of treatment will seed approximately 1,450 acres of high burn severity in the headwaters of the Mimbres River. These treatments will reduce downstream effects from excessive sedimentation to the high number of private property and resource values located in the Mimbres River Valley, and the Kingston and Hillsboro areas.
Seeding reduces effects to downstream life, property, and infrastructure by reducing erosion and runoff. Areas of high burn severity are to be seeded with a quick germinating, non-persistent annual cereal barley that would provide rapid ground cover. A small percentage of native perennial species would also be included to give the burned area a jump start in natural recovery, and provide for long-term ground cover. Mulch is the most effective treatment for controlling erosion and runoff, as it provides immediate ground cover. Mulch also assists in stabilizing soil in and around these areas.
Aircraft for seeding operations will be based at the Gila National Forest Air Tanker Base.
As mulching operations are commenced, helicopters will be used to disperse mulch over the recommended treatment areas. Temporary closures of NM State Highway 152 can be expected during this time. Road closure information can be found at www.nmdot.com, or by calling 511.
Other planned Phase II implementations are contour cutting of trees above Cultural Resources to prevent increased levels of sheet-washing and removal of archaeological features; post warning signs at key access points to protect the public from exposure and hazards of the burned area; and reduce excessive erosion to forest system trails by installing additional drainage to areas of trails that are susceptible to erosion and degradation.