Forest Service to plant trees in burn scar

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Las Conchas Fire > Volunteers are needed to help

By The Staff

The U.S. Forest Service has plans to plant trees this spring in an area burned by the 2011 Las Conchas blaze.
Forest officials say the exact dates depend on weather, soil moisture and temperatures, but they’re aiming for the middle of April for volunteers to help with the tree planting effort.
They say a 56-acre area at the base of Pajarito Ski Hill will be planted with Douglas Fir trees.
The effort will be part of a larger planting initiative that will cover about 2,000 acres and involve almost 500,000 trees.
The trees were ordered the fall of 2011 following the Las Conchas fire. Local seed stock was germinated the following spring and now the trees are about a year old and ready to be planted.
The Forest Service will take volunteer reservations of 30 to 50 people each day.  Tree planting will involve a provided Dibble tool to create a shallow hole to place the baby tree and soil plug to a precise depth. Netting may be used to cover the tree so that elk do not eat it.  Required hard hats will be provided, however volunteers must provide their own boots, gloves, long pants, long-sleeve shirts and safety glasses.
Volunteers will participate under the Southwest Nordic Ski Club Partnership Agreement, which means hours worked will count toward a match of federal funds to further restore the recreational trails around Los Alamos in the future.
For more information and to sign up as a volunteer, call the Española Ranger District at 505-753-7331, or email volunteer coordinator Jennifer Sublett at jasublett@fs.fed.us.
In addition, The Santa Fe National Forest reminds the public that even though it is winter and snow is on the ground, the Las Conchas Fire Area restrictions are still in effect on the Jemez Ranger District due to existing safety hazards and risk for resource damage.
Motorized travel is restricted to roads that have been assessed and cleared of major public safety hazards. However, currently the roads are temporarily closed due to snow and road surface protection.
Only FR 289 from N.M. 4 to the junction of FR 36, and FR 36 leading into Cochiti Mesa are open to the public. Most Jemez Ranger District roads typically open in mid-April when the snows are melted and road surfaces are dry.
The entire burn area on national forest land is open to non-motorized uses, including pedestrian travel, horses and mountain bikes.
Call the Jemez Ranger District Office at 575-829-3535 before visiting the forest to receive updates on which forest roads are open.