LAS VEGAS — After a national search, Kent Reid has accepted an appointment as director of the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute at Highlands University.
Reid has been with the institute since 2007 and has been serving as the interim director since early June. The institute was established to promote practices that reduce the risk of catastrophic fire.
“We do a lot of things – safety training for forest industry, producing maps for community groups, monitoring treated areas — that may seem to be rather diverse, but everything we do relates to reducing fire severity,” Reid said. “The fire question is especially challenging, since we live in a state that naturally burned. Every plant community in the state burned, and it will burn again.”
Reid moved to New Mexico in 1996 and worked in the state and internationally as a consulting forester before coming to work for the institute. He has degrees from North Carolina State, Colorado State, and Clemson, and has worked for Weyerhaeuser, the Peace Corps, Auburn University, Virginia Tech, and Cornell University.
The institute works across the woody plant communities of New Mexico, from grassland with piñon-juniper growing in it, up through ponderosa pine, and into mixed conifer in the higher elevations of the mountains. It has a statewide mandate, and works with organizations involved with land management.
“We are in the best position of any organization in the state to facilitate watershed restoration across the fences that separate different landowners,” Reid said. “I expect to build on our approach of bringing together people to carry out restoration on areas that match the scale of the large fires we have seen in the last decade.”
The New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute was created in 2004 by Congress under the Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act. It was partnered with similar institutes in Arizona and Colorado, and they were jointly named the Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes. Supporting organizations include the United States Forest Service and the New Mexico Legislature.