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New Mexico Forest Restoration Brings Improved Resilience, New Economic Opportunity

A critical water source, New Mexico's Zuni Mountain landscape is also home to a variety of fish and wildlife, including the endangered Zuni bluehead sucker and Mexican spotted owl. Through thinning and controlled burn treatments, this 56,000-acre Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) project is making the forests of Zuni Mountain more resilient to wildfire, drought, bark beetles, and climate change. The Zuni Mountain Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project will create and maintain an estimated 75 part- and full-time jobs, and it's estimated that approximately $37 million will be saved in future wildfire management costs.

Workflow Guide: 
Step 1: Risk Assessment and Areas in Need
Step 2: Set Priorities and Select Key Project
Step 3: Environmental Compliance Process
Step 4: Take Action
Step 5: Monitoring and Adaptive Management

Summary of Action and Outcome

Partnerships have brought the community economic opportunity, as well as preservation of cultural capital and environmental conservation. The project has gone beyond thinning and prescribed burning to reduce fire risk to additionally help small local mills grow. A strong cooperation with the Youth Conservation Corps not only helped make implementation more efficient, but also allowed for an important educational opportunity to local youth.


New Mexico
Cibola National Forest (182,700 acres); other ownership, including private lands, state lands, and DOI (27,300 acres)


Small, local wood product businesses were a target of resources to support the local community.


Restoration activities are aimed at making natural systems more resilient to future climate trends, as well as climate events.


Thinning and prescribed burning were used to reduce the risk of unmanageable fire. Road maintenance reduced the risk of erosion.

Funding Process

Congress authorized appropriation of up to $40M annually for Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) project implementation and monitoring to cover up to 50 percent of these costs, with no more than $4M going to any one project. The Forest Service funding shown here is the lifelong request for CFLRP funding. Forest Service and partner match funds, as well as goods for services through stewardship contracts, are leveraged to cover the remaining costs of the projects. Total annual expenditures are given in project annual reports.

All CFLRP projects were selected by a Federal Advisory Committee. Details on project proposals can be found here.

For up-to-date project information, see the annual reports on the “Results” page of the USFS CFLRP website.

Monitoring Protocols

The Forest Stewards Guild convened two meetings of the Zuni Mountains Collaborative in late Fall 2015. One meeting was an annual meeting of the Collaborative to review the past year's accomplishments and lessons learned, assess monitoring data, look forward towards the year ahead, and make recommendations to the Forest Service. The second meeting was convened due to concerns from residents and mountain bikers in the landscape that large trees were needlessly being selected for harvesting. Both of these meetings led to adjustments, including increased scrutiny on tree size in silviculture marking, increased outreach with tribal partners, improved
internet presence, and increased engagement of youth in educational activities. Also in FY16, it became apparent that silviculture prescriptions needed to increase the leave trees marked to account for post-fire tree mortality.

The Zuni Mountains CFLRP project has stabilized Mt. Taylor millwork and machine (MTMM), a local restoration harvesting and wood processing business. MTMM now employs over 40 year-round jobs. That impact has grown since FY14, with the addition of BRL Logging. This CFLRP project is particularly effective, given how most of the project funds have been and continue to go to on-the-ground treatments that benefit local economies. The Zuni Mountains Collaborative is actively looking to how to stabilize these jobs and capacity investments into the future.

The Forest Stewards Guild collects social and economic data from project partners through a survey that was adapted from the Front Range CFLRP project. Due to the timing of the reporting period and the data-gathering process, this report has limited FY16 data to share at this time. One item that was shared this year was the loss of in-woods operability due to mud. This increased the seasonality of the harvesting, trucking, and processing jobs. The increased seasonality of the jobs led to an increase of MTMM’s unemployment insurance costs putting an additional strain on the business.

Successful Collaboration

In the community, the Cibola National Forest established a forester training program with the Zuni Pueblo. The National Wild Turkey Federation Stewardship Agreement with Mt. Taylor Manufacturing has grown to 45 full-time harvesting and processing jobs, which representatives say would not otherwise exist.


The Cibola experienced a high rate of turnover due to retirements, relocations, and temporary promotions. This caused a gap in some corporate knowledge, as well as training downtime for the new folks to become fully integrated into the project and reporting.

In addition, the agency initiated a new database of record for wildlife and some issues with reporting and coding acres were not identified prior to the database closing. This resulted in less acres being claimed.