TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – The U.S. Forest Service is seeking comments from the public about the McGaffey Forest and Rio Grande del Rancho Watershed Restoration Project in the Carson National Forest. The goal of the project is to restore the health and resiliency of the proposed forest area.

The project’s main activities would include thinning and prescribed burns and the project would span 10-20 years. The forest service says personal fuelwood will be available for collection following the project’s tree thinning.

The forest service is proposing a 30,000-acre area for the project. The proposed area is centered around the Rio Grande del Rancho watershed on both sides of NM State Highway 518 between Talpa and U.S. Hill in Carson National Forest. The western boundary of the proposed area is Miranda Canyon. The eastern boundary is the Bear Wallow ridge and the Maestas ridge.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service says, “degraded forest conditions can cause trees to be vulnerable to insect attack, disease, and inter-tree competition. The degradation also increases the risk of wildfire, which could severely affect downstream water quality, wildlife habitat, recreation access, and traditional and cultural opportunities and sites, not to mention the threat of fire spreading into communities.”

The proposal focuses on needs in the area that have been identified by the Taos Valley Watershed Coalition. The project is one of many in a larger effort to mitigate wildfire risks. The draft analysis and supporting documents regarding the project can be found online at fs.usda.gov.

Where to deliver comments

  • In-person or via mail
    • Camino Real Ranger District, 15160 State Road 75, Peñasco, NM 87553
      • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
      • (575) 587-2255
    • Supervisor’s Office, 208 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571
      • 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday
      • (575) 758-6200
  • Email
    • Comments on the project
      • comments-southwestern-carson-caminoreal@usda.gov
    • Questions for the Camino Real District Ranger
      • mailroom_r3_carson@usda.gov

Comments will be accepted through Mar. 31, 2023.