20 Communities Initiative reimplemented in Catron County

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Reserve — The first Catron County Wildfire Risk Reduction Task Force meeting was held at the Catron County Fire Administration and Training Facility on Nov. 8 in Reserve.
In 2001, the National Fire Plan “20 Communities Initiative” was implemented with the goal of determining which communities were most vulnerable to fire and to provide those communities with the tools to make needed changes.
This initiative emphasized the importance of protecting homes within the communities and supported the development and long-term maintenance of fuel breaks from which suppression resources can “make a stand.”
Catron County was included in the list of communities, and in response convened a local 20 Communities Initiative group consisting of county, state and federal agencies, as well as forest industry and interested stakeholders. This group began to meet to address strategies to reduce wildfire risk. Catron County’s 2005 Community Wildfire Protection Plan was based on an action plan written by the 20 Communities Group.
In response to the catastrophic Whitewater-Baldy Complex wildfire of this past summer, Catron County Fire Chief Zina McGuire and Doug Boykin of New Mexico Forestry, Socorro District, called for renewed efforts to continue the valuable work of the twenty communities group. The same agencies and stakeholders will be involved, but the twenty communities group has been renamed the “Catron County Wildfire Risk Reduction Task Force.”
The initial task force meeting consisted mainly of introductions, discussion of common goals and hazardous fuels reduction treatment accomplishment reports. Well attended by state and federal land management agencies, the 30 participants included Gila National Forest Supervisor Kelly Russell and some staff members, all the USFS Gila NF District Rangers, the Magdalena District Ranger for Cibola National Forest, representatives of the BLM Rio Puerco and Socorro Districts, the New Mexico State Forestry Department and Catron County fire chief, CWPP update contractors and fire department members.
“This was a very positive meeting,” McGuire said. “I believe we will be able to develop some new and improved strategies that will maximize our efforts to reduce risk from wildfire in Catron County.”
The task force will meet monthly on the second Thursday of each month at the Catron County Fire Administration and Training Facility in Reserve.
For more information see www.catronfireprevention.org.