September 11, 2019
Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University will join two other organizations Sept. 14 to share current research and management ideas to promote forest health in the state.
The free public Forest Restoration Field Day is from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center that New Mexico State University operates in Mora, New Mexico. The address is 3021 State Highway 518 on the west side of Mora, next door to Mora Valley Ranch Supply.
The field day is a partnership among the New Mexico Highlands University forestry program, New Mexico State University, and the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute housed at Highlands. The group calls itself the Forest Restoration Triangle, or FORT.
“The main goal of the Forest Restoration Field Day is to raise awareness of the condition of New Mexico’s forests, which cover about one-third of the state, of the restoration needs of those forests, and of the restoration professionals and programs that exist in New Mexico and work to keep the forests healthy,” said Joshua Sloan, Highlands forestry professor and Natural Resources Management Department chair.
The Forest Restoration Field Day is also designed to provide a synopsis on the declining state of New Mexico’s forests; share current research and management strategies addressing some of these issues; and emphasize the importance of a strong forestry education program in New Mexico. Highlands has the only accredited forestry program in the state.
Sloan said the Forest Restoration Triangle partnership brings together in one collaborative group all the forest restoration expertise in New Mexico.
“We’re working with all the government entities like the U.S. Forest Service, State Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as well as science-based conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy and Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance to create a more resilient forest landscape in New Mexico,” Sloan said.
He gave project examples such as collecting ponderosa pine and Douglas fir seeds for restoration work after the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos and developing drought-resistant tree seedlings in the John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center.
Owen Burney is a forestry professor at New Mexico State University and is the superintendent of the John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center.
Burney said the research center includes a 110-acre research center nursery greenhouse that produces approximately 250,000 seedlings per year for forest restoration, regeneration and research.
“Over the past two years since we developed the Forest Restoration Triangle, we’ve seen significant increases in research, quality of education, and our ability to reach community members through our outreach programs,” Burney said. “The forestry program at Highlands is strong and I’m excited about the opportunities for student involvement in research and field learning.”
Sloan said, “The partnership between Highlands University forestry and NMSU’s John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center opens up doors for NMHU students by creating opportunities for training, internships, and hands-on fieldwork alongside active forest restoration researchers and professionals.”
In addition, Sloan said the partnership also helps bring top professionals from the forest restoration field into the classroom at Highlands.
“We’re thrilled that our enrollment in forestry at Highlands has increased 24 percent since fall 2018, climbing from 54 to 67 students. Highlands is the place to be in New Mexico if you aspire to a forestry career,” Sloan said.
Kent Reid is the director for the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute.
“Our primary goal at the Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute is to reduce catastrophic forest fires through promoting practices, like thinning, that improve ecosystem function,” Reid said. “In this field day, we’re looking at ecosystem management for forests and woodlands in all of New Mexico.”