LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – The government and several New Mexico universities are gearing up to replant fire-ravaged land around the state. The collaborative New Mexico Reforestation Center has received funding from lawmakers and is hoping to get up and running relatively soon.

The idea to focus on plant seedling science in order to repair fire-damaged landscapes and combat climate change in New Mexico is not new. For decades, New Mexico State University has been doing research on the topic. But soon, $8.5 million approved by lawmakers will help set up the New Mexico Reforestation Center.

Previously announced in 2022, the idea is to use expertise from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico State University, and the University of New Mexico to plant millions of trees each year. A big focus is repairing fire-damaged lands.

“Currently, seedling production capacity in New Mexico is at a maximum of 300,000 seedlings per year – far below the 150 million to 390 million needed to replant more than 1 million burned acres across the state, which does not include acres burned in future forest fires,” according to a news release by Carlos Andres López at New Mexico State University.

Most of the latest round of funding will go towards designing and setting up facilities for the New Mexico Reforestation Center. It’s not yet clear where construction will take place – the Reforestation Center might be housed in Mora, New Mexico, or maybe Santa Fe, or somewhere else. A site selection committee is considering several options, according to New Mexico State University.