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Home Publications Tree Planters' Notes Tree Planters' Notes Volume 57, Number 1 (2014) Forestry and Tree Planting in New Mexico

Forestry and Tree Planting in New Mexico

New Mexico’s varied climate and geography, coupled with its deep sociocultural background provide a rich and dramatic backstory to its present day position in the forest industry. Resource extraction during the mid-19th century negatively impacted forests and woodlands near settlements in response to growing railroads, mining operations, and ranches. In the 1940s, fire suppression efforts were established to protect the ever-growing timber industry that was feeding the post World War (WW) II housing boom. With these suppression efforts, fuel densities have reached extremely hazardous conditions in many of New Mexico’s forests. Combined with severe drought conditions, these dense forests have been burning at catastrophic levels in recent years. In response to both harvest activities and fire restoration efforts, reforestation became a new focus in New Mexico in the 1970s. The John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center, an Agricultural Experimental Station of New Mexico State University, opened in 1972 as part of a State legislative act to improve forest productivity and reforestation success. In 1995, the listing of a federally endangered species, the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis), halted timber production and thus redirected reforestation efforts to that of post-fire restoration. Pressures from tourism, recreation, drought, and increasingly large wildland fires place new demands on the New Mexico landscape. Looking to the future, reforestation and restoration efforts will provide new challenges for New Mexico’s nurseries, while increasing forest densities beg the question whether an economically viable timber industry will make a comeback.

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Author(s): Owen T. Burney, Sara H. Brown, Kenneth P. Bentson, W. David Hacker

Publication: Tree Planters' Notes - Volume 57, Number 1 (2014)

Volume: 57

Number: 1