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News Page 5 | News Index

This Page:
· Christmas in the Foothills
· Cliff F.F.A.
· 99th Birthday
· Rodeo Community Push for FOB Choice
· Rodeo Wildfire Investigation
· Fire Recovery


Christmas in the Foothills (A Hillsboro Centennial Event)

The annual Hillsboro Christmas celebration, Christmas in the Foothills, takes place on Saturday, December 3, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. This event has been recognized as a New Mexico Centennial Event, complete with a proclamation from the NM State Senate recognizing December 3rd as the 100th anniversary of the death of Nicholas Galles, an early resident of Hillsboro important in the history of our state and the first Chief Justice of the NM Supreme Court.

To commemorate the date, current NM Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels is scheduled to address visitors at 3:45 pm at the Hillsboro Community Center.

Galles was a Hillsboro pioneer who led a posse of 15 to fight Apache leader Victorio in 1879. He served as Hillsboro's first postmaster, penning a marriage proposal on post office letterhead. He also owned a mercantile business and studied law under Judge Albert Fountain (whose shocking murder was tried in Hillsboro's courthouse, now a ruin). Galles served in the Territorial Legislature and wrote the legislation to create Sierra County in 1884.

In addition to a fascinating photo display about Nicholas Galles created by the Hillsboro Historical Society and a book signing/sale for the organization's book, Around Hillsboro, highlights of Christmas in the Foothills will include an array of vendors selling specialty hand-crafted gifts in the Hillsboro Community Center and the ever-popular $49.99 Art Show and Sale.

The $49.99 Art Show and Sale began many years ago as a way for local artists, authors, and craftspeople to give back to the community at Christmas time. Each item in the Art Show will be sold for $49.99 to a winning ticket holder, and all items are guaranteed to be worth more than that-many several times more! Lucky visitors each go home with a unique and valuable addition to their home, whether painting, photograph, pottery, furniture, jewelry item, or other treasure.

One-dollar tickets can also be purchased for a chance to win framed artwork created especially for the event by Julie Shufelt. The winning ticket for that piece will be drawn at the Community Center at the end of our event. Limited edition giclee prints of Julie's artwork are for sale at Percha Creek Traders for $20.

Always a favorite, Lawrence Tedrow's Clydesdale horses return again this year to take visitors back and forth between the main stage of events at the Hillsboro Community Center to Main Street merchants, including restaurants, antique shops and an arts and crafts shop. Musicians and singers along Main Street will provide seasonal and regional accompaniment to the festivities.

Hillsboro is located on Highway 152 approximately 17 miles west of I-25 at exit 63. From Silver City take Highway 152 east 57 miles to Hillsboro.

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Cliff F.F.A.

The last month has been very busy for Cliff FFA members as we recently participated in the New Mexico State Fair and Gila/Cliff Grant County Fair.

The New Mexico State Fair was held September 9th-16th. There were nine FFA members that competed at the New Mexico State Fair in the swine, sheep, steer, and heifer shows.
Following are the placing results for the New Mexico State Fair:

  • Swine Show - Kenyon Bearup placed 6th with his Spot and 9th with his Duroc. Cassidy Lewis placed 4th with his Spot.
  • Lamb Show - Triston Montoya placed 5th with his Blackface.
  • Steer Show - Ashley Moon placed 6th with her Chianina and 6th with her Cross. Kade Calloway placed 5th with his Limousin and 4th with his Cross. Kasey Brown placed 5th with her Maine Anjou.
  • Heifer Show - Klayton Bearup placed 1st with his Maine Anjou.
  • Others that competed at State Fair were Sarah Wolf and Colton Clark.

The Gila/Cliff Grant County Fair was held September 28 - October 2. There were numerous FFA members that competed at the Gila/Cliff Grant County Fair in the swine, sheep, steer and heifer shows. Congratulations to the following FFA members:

  • Swine Show - Kenyon Bearup placed 3rd with his light OPB and 4th with his light Duroc. Micah Spurgeon placed 2nd with her light Duroc, 1st with her light Hampshire and was also Reserve Breed Champion Hampshire. Ashley Moon placed 5th with her heavy Duroc. KyLee Rice placed 6th with her light Cross, 7th place in the gilt show, and won the Clean Barn Award for Swine. Brogan Calloway placed 4th with her light OPB, 7th with her medium Cross and 6th with her heavy Cross. Cassidy Lewis placed 1st with his light OPB, 2nd light Hampshire, 3rd heavy Cross, and 4th heavy Duroc. Sarah Wolf placed 2nd with her light cross. Colton Watkins was Reserve Breed Champion OPB. Wyatt Reed placed 6th with his heavy Hampshire. Colton Clark placed 1st with his light Cross.
  • Sheep Show - Micah Spurgeon placed 5th with her Class 2 Blackface. Lauryn Robertson placed 3rd and 4th with her Blackfaces. Triston Montoya was Reserve Champion Lamb Overall, Champion Cross, and 2nd and 5th Blackface.
  • Goat Show - Teryn Brown was Grand Champion Goat, 2nd heavy, and won Junior Showmanship. Meghan Gregory won the Clean Barn Award for Goats.
  • Heifer Show - Klayton Bearup won Grand Champion Heifer.
  • Steer Show - Ashley Moon placed 4th and 5th with her tall steers. Kade Calloway placed 5th with his medium steer. Klayton Bearup placed 5th with his short steer, 6th with his medium steer, Reserve Champion County Bred, and Senior Showmanship. Kasey Brown placed 2nd with her short steer.
  • Chicken Show - Chance Remondini showed the Champion Chicken Overall.


Some of the other FFA members competed in the Rodeo.

  • Kelsey Garner was All Around for 15-18 year olds.
  • Taeron Reidhead was 1st in Steer Riding.
  • Cordell Davis was All Around for 15-18 years old and won breakaway.
  • Karter Bearup won the Open Roping.
  • Kenyon and Karter Bearup won the Team Roping for 11-14 years old.
  • Lacy Garner placed 4th in open barrels, 2nd All Around, 3rd goats, and won barrels.
  • Micah Spurgeon split money for 1st in open barrels.
  • Taylor McCauley was 3rd in the Jim Shelley Roping and 3rd in Breakaway. Holt Shelley was 3rd in breakaway and 4th in Jim Shelley Roping.
  • Montana Hines was 2nd in poles.
  • Josie Weeks placed 3rd in barrels.

Congratulations to all that competed in the Fairs and Rodeo. Cliff FFA would like to thank all those who supported us with our fair animals this year, especially those who purchased animals and the Junior Livestock Sale. Without your support our success would not be possible.

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Glenwood Resident Celebrates 99th Birthday

On Friday October 7, friends and family gathered at the Glenwood Senior Center to celebrate Robert (Rob) Murray Keetch's 99th birthday. Rob was born on a ranch in Texas on October 8, 1912.

When he was 21 years old his family cow disappeared and he figured it would be at the adjoining ranch because they had a lot of dairy cows. He told his father he would go there and look for it. As he came around the barn he was confronted by two beautiful girls. They were sisters and one of them, Lucille, would end up being his bride of nearly 75 years. He says that she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and that she had a figure that would stop a clock!

After dating for a while, mostly attending country dances, they eloped (with her mother's permission) on horseback to Lubbock, Texas on December 11, 1933. She was 16 and he was 21. He had two dollars to his name, so one dollar went to pay for the marriage license and the other dollar went to pay the preacher. They spent their married life in Fort Worth, Texas. Lucille died in 2007 at the age of 91.

Robert and Lucille had two sons; Derald and Larry. They have three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Robert worked in defense factories most of his life and was supervisor at General Dynamics/Special Projects for 35 years. He and his wife enjoyed going to church and Robert is proud to have been an Usher for 75 years. He even wrote a poem about it (see, at right).

When asked about his secret to a long life he said that he never smoked, drank very little, kept his weight between 140 and 145 his entire life, and ate lots of potatoes and gravy!

He moved to Glenwood from Fort Worth, TX in June of 2011 to be closer to his son Derald and daughter in-law Sue.

The Fantasy of an Old Usher

I am sure most of you have come to the conclusion that I love this church and the people in this church. The rich, the poor, the old, the young and those of a different color treat me as though I am somebody.

Hence, the fantasy of an old usher.

Since I am one of the oldest people in this church, by the laws of average, I would be the first to be called home. Should this be the case, I am looking forward to passing through (as the Bible says one of those gates of pearl) and walking down that beautiful street and kneel at the Master's feet and thank him for saving my soul and leading me through life to where I am today.

Then I would turn to my son, who has gone on before me. I would hug him real good and ask him to forgive me for not doing the things I could have done for him while he was here on Earth. Knowing him, I can just hear him say, "Awe Dad, look at the things you did do!"

Then I would turn to Papa and Mama and meet the people who passed on before I was old enough to remember them. I would thank them for being so good to me while they were here on Earth.

Then, I would gather up all the old ushers who have gone on before me - believe me, there is a bunch of them. We would reminisce about how we enjoyed working at the old church and doing all the things Brother Jones cooked up to get a crowd on Sunday.

After working hard all my life, I can't believe we would just set around the Master's feet and sing hymns . . . after he heard me sing, he might relegate me to the back side of the Universe. Should he give me an assignment, I would ask him to let me do another job on the side.

I would like to be standing at one of those gates of pearl and greet you and welcome you and send you on your way to meet the Master. That would make this old usher very happy.

Such is the fantasy of this old usher.

~ Robert M. Keetch

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Rodeo Community Push for FOB Choice

More than 120 folks, from ranchers to firemen, met down in the BootHeel on October 7th to push for a Forward Operating Base (FOB) which they believe would best tackle border agency goals and security-savvy strategies. Over the past year, public consensus has been building for the Cloverdale site - an area 7 miles north of the U.S.Mexico fence-line which features higher, dry-ground vantage, existing utilities, and a 'visible presence' that folks believe can act as deterrent.

On Friday, Congressman Steve Pearce, along with aide, Tim Keithley and reps from Senator Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall's office arrived at the Animas Community Center. They along with U.S. Border Patrol Agents - Michael Przybyl (Sector Chief, El Paso) and Chrisopher Mangusing, (Lordsburg Station) listened intently as the community delivered a feisty mix of public concern, respectful suggestion, and local advice.

"We know this has been a hotly contested issue for people who live here," said Congressman Pearce in opening remarks. "We've had a lot of calls to our office, and think this conversation (about the proposed sites) is a good one to have." But politics aside, it seemed quite evident that seasoned officials were fairly impressed with residents who held fast to their beliefs, and in their tenacity to see 'government gets it right.'

For newcomers, this meeting follows two citizen petitions and a rancher-organized tour of the two locations that produced the agenda at hand: A last-ditch effort by locals to have the new FOB site constructed 7 miles from the border, visible to trespassers, on ready-to-build BLM land. At best, this was a troublesome stand-off between what you might call 'small-town wisdom' versus big-guy government. At worst - it was another prime example of how government thinks it knows best and always gets its way.

On the opposing side of the debate are border officials armed with a pending decision and a 13-matrix scorecard. "We want a location that meets 13 criteria," said Mr. Przybyl of the two competing locations. "This has not been decided yet, but we want a site that is geared to activity not just coming straight at us - but what we need to look at from our flanks, from Arizona and elsewhere." This was, added Przybyl - a simple matter of criteria and what was best for the overall border mission.

That said, it was clear that the 'scorecard' had led (quite frankly) north - 19 miles from the border, towards a 20-year lease on privately-held lands, (minus visual deterrence) on Horsecamp Road. Pearce, who is known for his long-time support of public debate was clearly in favor of this meeting. And unlike previous gatherings, it was his intent to provide the venue for public opinion and experience to be heard, in what has become an era of government-prone decisions.

"I'm here to make sure that the Border Patrol listens to 'the people here,' said Pearce of the agenda. "Had agencies and government learned to work with local people on issues like this, Congress wouldn't have to fix these things going on in D.C." That said, dozens of comments took center stage as citizens began to express their views (one by one) with questions that ranged from an appeal for the final release of environmental assessments, to other issues which were about to emerge about 'hidden taxpayer costs' for road improvements, public utilities and of course, work on predictable flood plains.

"I'd really like a common sense answer to a common sense issue as to why the border patrol would want this Forward Operating Base further away from the border, rather than closer to it?" asked Hidalgo Co Commissioner, Darr Shannon in opening moments. "At one point, we, (the public) were asked about our reasoning for wanting a close-to-the border site," said Shannon, "The question was asked, "'Do you really want our border officers to be in a jeopardized position near the border?"

To that comment, agent Mangusing clarified - "I really don't see either site being better or worse for the agents who will man the FOB. We are going to build it in such a way as to maximize security. But this FOB site is just a place for agents to reside, to patrol from. They need a place to bring packs in for sleeping quarters. So of course, we'll have security in place." He and agent Maese, said there was no disrespect meant when it came to this particular question put to residents - as security would be there.

But that wasn't the end of the matter as other residents stepped forward to talk about concerns over flood potential along Horsecamp Road, and a site that many believed, offered little to no real advantage in deterrence and with 'keeping the bad guys at bay.'

"I think you really need to look at the community as stakeholders in this whole process," said rancher Steven Gault of protection and taxpayer-funded issues on the line. "The viewers of this pasture (FOB site) have nothing at all at stake here. Fortunately, we still have a democracy at work." Gault, who spoke about archeological clearance and easements for power lines added, "We do have clearances to build on the BLM land. Now if the FOB ends up on Horsecamp Road, you need to understand that bad decisions can have lasting effects."

Meanwhile, Darr Shannon again questioned the reasoning for building an FOB in a sheltered area that she believed could not deliver any valid deterrence to drug-or human trafficking activity. "We know that the County may or may not have easements for necessary power lines at the Horsecamp site - and, of course, there may also be some costly issues with flooding issues and road-access improvements there."

Still others, like long-time ranchers Judy Keeler and Levi Klump confirmed that Horsecamp was definitely prone to flood in the troublesome terrain. "You really need to have a hydrologist come in to assess that site, before you start any building there," said Keeler of the process. "It will flood and you'll regret what you've done ." Likewise, Levi Klump pointed to the potential cost for road-realignments on curves to prevent vehicle safety hazards.

Tom Nelson, Hatchita Fire Chief, describes both proposed sites as dangerous and unpredictable: "I don't necessarily care where you put the FOB site. But I do want to see that border sealed." Nelson who shared his own first-hand experience with border security issues pointed to the connection between wildfires minus - necessary border patrol presence.

"We spent the summer fighting wildfires and dealing with people running through ranges with backpacks and guns," explained Nelson of the mayhem. "It's just not fair for firefighters to have to deal with situations like that. Somebody has to get a handle on it."

For others, a lack of timely and consistent public information was at issue. "We've been waiting patiently for final reports, from the Corps of Engineers, from (EPA) Environmental Assessment and soil tests," said Meira Gault of her work with site criteria and study. "I think this kind of conflicting information means more time is taken, more money is being spent." According to Chief Przybyl, the 13-point criteria was being followed and that environmental or and cultural (archeological) study was only part of the final decision and recommendation.

"What we've done is create a working matrix of criteria…these issues are all part of a scorecard with a point system that rates things like acreage size, location, accessibility, power sources and so forth, then we put all of this information together," said Przybyl of the process. "We look at it operationally - in our ability to respond to calls and activity, how the traffic comes at us from the front, and from the flanks." Nevertheless, Agent Mangusing said of the scorecard, sites were not designed as a deterrent.

Operationally, there were questions from Pearce as well as from a persistent audience. "If you're too far back, (away from the border) and the traffickers make their way into the Mountains, you'll never catch them," said Keeler of the northern site and the legendary get-aways of folks like Geronimo. "You'll need to have mounted horse patrols in there - and you won't be able to find them from the roadways - you'll see foot traffic in all directions.

Crystal Brown, one of the last questioners, thought that the public and law enforcement shouldn't look to the past when dealing with today's issues. "In the old days, no one tried to get here using UAV's or drug tunnels - they didn't drive SUV's and use cell phones," said Brown of outdated strategies. "I think the border patrol is kind of between a rock and a hard place - you just don't have the authority or force to stop people, or even the political will to do it. And, in the old days, we didn't have drug cartels running governments."

According to Przybyl, there are lots of issues at stake for citizens and enforcement to weigh - economic growth, infrastructure, technology is all key to a growing the economy here - alongside ensuring border security. "Our apprehensions are down 66 percent since 2008 and we have a 91 % effective rating," said Przybyl. "In my career, I've always relied on the experience of the residents and ranchers who know this area, who know the terrain," said Przybyl. "So I will absolutely be taking your comments and insights into account here."

Unfortunately, according to Pearce the street sales of drugs tells a different story than optimistic apprehension/confiscation reports show. "We know that the prices (of various drugs) haven't gone up on the streets. So, it doesn't look like the supply has changed much - that's about the best indicator for actual reductions in flow we've had."

Meanwhile, one of the more vocal residents at the meeting, Di Massey, clearly hit a chord with words that rang all too true for folks standing on both sides of the decision. "If you're saying that the proposed site isn't really meant to be a deterrent …Then, I have to ask you, why isn't it being considered, and, if the drug traffickers can see you, know you're there and stay away -- why wouldn't you want that to happen?"

Before any firm response could be found, Massey had the final say. "You know, I have two little boys that can't run along the fence line any longer… Are you willing to make the right decision for the safety of this Valley?"

For now at least, the FOB decision is still pending.

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Rodeo Wildfire Investigation
Wildfire Investigation . . . "Put Out"

By Dawn Newman

Investigations of the Horseshoe1 & 2 wildfires that swept through the Chiricahua this past spring and the year before, were all but 'put out' this past week as Albuquerque law enforcement and fire investigators officially 'closed' their files for findings. Now, it will be up to residents and persistent journalists to look at the formal outcome … through the Freedom of Information Act, where ever that may lead.

It was in 2010, (as Horseshoe1 broke out in the Southwest Range), that people began to talk about 'known drug smuggling routes,' listen in on radio chatter and later, began to fret as roughly 3,000 acres turned up scorched earth. But, it wasn't until May 8th, 2011, that the chatter turned into some serious desperation - as residents evacuated from canyons, wildlife fled for their lives, and U.S. Forest Rangers and fire crews responded 'as best they could.'

That was a nasty fire as most recall - black smoke and destructive winds for more than 40 days, before it was finally contained, controlled, and eventually 'put out.' Like the year before, this one was dubbed 'human caused,' said officials of initial assessment: Not many storms or lighting that time of year. So, again, in 2011, it was time for investigation and findings to emerge. In other words, what's behind those wildfires and how do we prevent them from happening again?

But the patterns of wildfire activity in this unforgiving stretch of mountain range began to consume the land much earlier for residents (in 2006, and subsequent years). Remember, Burrow Spring, South Fork, Cave Creek, Rucker Canyon, Turkey Creek and Jack wood and of course, those god-awful trails worn dry by relentless smugglers? Both seasonal residents and experienced officials saw the scattered back-packs, cigarettes, tossed clothes all to make hodge-podge camp sites comfy stopovers for criminals who needed some down time.

Like most activity, this was a human caused incident - and this year brought on 'a hell of a fight' by U.S. Forest Service and crews to get the thing 'stopped' and out. According to Bill Edwards, (Douglas District Manager, U.S.F.S.), this fire raged for roughly 45 days - scorching roughly 223,000 acres of protected forests. Beyond their massive fire-lines and back-stops, it also consumed wildlife, forest and homes that were anywhere near its path.

While Edwards is optimistic and convinced that this growth will mostly come back on its own - he admits to the blow of U.S. Forest Service goals when it comes to preservation. "According to on the ground assessments, both fires were human-caused, said Edwards of the two open cases. "We don't have the findings, but they appear to have occurred on or near known drug smuggling trails. We just can't make a conclusion on any of those findings."

Edwards points to the assigned fire and investigatory team (in Albuquerque) who reviews all the details and views each scene to define the point of ignition - but, they have just not gotten to the bottom of it to date. In the meantime, residents report that large post-gates are being erected at entry points leading into well-known sites and activity points, apparently to limit routine access to wilderness hikers and campers.

While officials who study the 'patterns of destruction' have not yet released their findings most will agree that activity was based in both rugged and otherwise, perilous camping locations. "Now most folks would not tackle this type of terrain for mere bird watching or to enjoy a typical family weekend," said Louis Pope, a 35 year-veteran of fire crew operations and raging fires.

"The routes going into these areas already have posted signs; 'Warning citizens about smugglers and such,' says Pope, a long-time advocate for a common-sense approach to forest and resource management. In fact, the terrain would put any top-notch athlete to the absolute test in terms of accessing these locations.

Unfortunately, "These wildfires have been allowed to devastate the overgrown forests…and the forests have been overcrowded too long," says Pope of one-time timber harvesting strategies. "We need to ensure that there is local accountability for the forests, for the actions taken in fighting these fires and the tactics used to suppress them.

Resident Jeff Gee is likewise concerned about the outcome.

Gee who has lived in Portal, Az., in the heart of the Chiricahua since 1989, says that the number and scope of fires has grown over the years. "Neighbors here have seen what's left behind on these routes - We know there's been activity in these places and the chance of 'touching off' a wildfire by people who are moving through the area, and walking away from a make shift camp fire is not only dangerous, but catastrophic for residents, wildlife and forest lands.

Gee adds, "We just don't have enough 'on the ground' monitoring or security here, so we can only hope that agencies will start to 'get this right' when it comes to protection for the community."

The upside, explains Edwards, (a veteran of Coronado Nat'l Forest operations) was the fire crews' ability to moderate the Horseshoe fire. "We do plan to work on some rehabilitation there - dropping seeds from aircraft, getting biomass on the ground and letting 'mother nature' do her work. As a spokesman for the district, Edwards believes there is the simple need to get back to public education and raise more awareness.

Edwards explains that they evaluate the area and situation each year, and monitor the terrain as best we can. There are also two remaining fire tower sites with look-out ability - Montevista and SugarLoaf. "Sometimes rangers or officers will find cigarettes, abandoned supplies or the remains of a scattered campfire," says Edwards, "Unfortunately, completely closing off the National site to the public is a last resort, so we try to put restrictions on camp fires or open fires in the drier season."

Still the fires consume, scorching much of the Chiricahua range (in Arizona and beyond) into smoldering ground and blackened trees. Edwards says that weather is a huge factor - wildfires are tied to the seasonal patterns, the particular year, and how each season is different between rain-fall versus wind patterns and with the dryness in place.

While the Forest Service still oversees a few fire towers (mostly during the day) to 'spot fires' or even 'incidents' as they happen, Pope, (an experienced fire-fighting veteran) says it's a far cry from the 1960's and '70's when this area had a comprehensive network of fire towers manned with anywhere from two, four to six staff (often college students on school break) who would live in remote, fairly harsh conditions to watch for outbreaks and listen, to 'Radio Calls.'

According to Pope, it was a different time, with an active and efficient system in place for both recognizing and alerting smoke-related activity to local law enforcement and fire teams who could get help there quickly, and as needed. "There was a time, not that long ago, when fire spotters lived at their post or fire site 24-7. They really looked at their job as a mission - their job was a safeguard for the community."

"The community deserves a lot better fire protection and prevention than what's going on here - so what's the matter with packing your lunch," says Pope of the changes in staff.

The U.S. Forest Service used to earn 25% of their receipts for this service by allowing for grazing lands and another 25 % for timber sales. It's those kinds of partnerships with the ranchers and private industry that kept a lot of this wilderness land and residents safe - but it's only part of the solution."

Next Month: The Findings …what the U.S. Forest Service and Investigators have to say in their report.

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Gila NF Conducts Fire Recovery on Wallow Fire Burned Acres:
Cut Hazard Trees to be Offered for Fuelwood

October 27, 2011 A group of Forest Service firefighters from the Quemado and Wilderness Ranger Districts on the Gila National Forest have completed the cutting down of hazard trees along U.S. Highway 180 west of Luna, NM.

The hazard trees are a result of the Wallow Fire that burned this past summer. After a wildfire, burned trees start to deteriorate and decay and can easily fall in public use areas such as roads, campgrounds, and trails especially during wind events or heavy snowstorms.

Over the next few weeks, firefighters will be cutting the downed hazard trees that are 9" or less in diameter, and stacking the wood for public fuelwood use.

Permits are required for the removal of fuelwood and can be obtained at any Ranger District office or at the Supervisor's Office in Silver City. Cost is $10.00 per cord with a 2 cord minimum. The public is advised that the cutting of standing trees and downed trees within the burned area marked with blue paint are NOT to be cut or removed. These marked trees will be offered for commercial use ONLY!

Hazard trees are identified by the severity of their burn and their relationship to public use areas. Hazard tree removal is a standard part of fire recovery that focuses on public safety.

Further information may be obtained by contacting Fuels Specialist Tim Hendricks at the Quemado Ranger District at 575.773.4678.

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