Forest Service talks aerial reseeding of Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire burn scar
MORA COUNTY, N.M. – More than a year after fire crews were able to contain the massive Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire, the National Forest Service is working to regrow what was lost.
KOB 4 spoke with the Forest Service about how they’re trying to bring the burn scar back to its former glory, as the stakes are high.
“Think of it as a giant bucket with a spinning disk that spreads the seed. The seed goes in the top, and then it is sprayed at the bottom as a pilot can control the on and off of the release that either hangs from the helicopter, or is situated at the bottom of the airplane,” said Kenneth Alcon, a Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak coordinator.
For three months, smoke and flames rose from the largest and most destructive fire in the state’s history.
The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire burned more than 341,000 acres. Now, the Forest Service is trying to make the brown patches green again.
“NRCS has seeded approximately 50,000 acres on private lands across the HPCC burn area and has seen some very successful outcomes. I have seen a bit of their seeding efforts last year and this year, and have seen grass that is knee to waist high,” said Alcon.
This week, they began aerial seeding treatments along the burn scar between Las Vegas and Mora. The goal is, if they seed the area before winter, the new vegetation will start popping up in the spring.
“Ideally, we would like to see some snow in the near future to cover the seed and provide some protection from the elements, and of course critters through the winter. When snow melts, it happens in the spring and temperatures warm enough to see should germinate and grow,” Alcon said.
The Forest Service only has until Monday to finish seeding the 11,000 acres they have planned to cover, hoping weekend storms don’t drown out their efforts.
“They are able to fly these units with precision in very tight lines back and forth, spreading the seed. We then have individuals hike these areas to verify the seed has been spread properly, and we are getting the appropriate coverage across the treatment areas,” said Alcon.