Expert to Speak on Fires in Valles Caldera

Rebecca Oertel

PEEC News:

Rebecca Oertel of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, will give a free presentation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 at PEEC. The topic of her talk is the effects of the Las Conchas and Thompson Ridge fires, as well as prescribed burns, on the Valle lands.

The talk will cover the findings of the Valles’ pre- and post-fire monitoring of vegetation, soils, invertebrates, and vertebrate wildlife in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. It will also compare the results of ‘fire season’ summer wildfires to ‘cool season’ autumn prescribed fires.

Oertel grew up in Los Alamos, obtained a degree in biochemistry, and has worked in the Jemez Mountains area for the past 18 years as a biologist. Although Oertel has been at the VCNP for only one year, her extensive experience in the Jemez Mountains includes 11 years as a biologist at Bandelier National Monument: nine of which was with the US Geological Society under Dr. Craig Allen at the Jemez Mountain Field Station. There she performed scientific research in long-term ecological monitoring including botany, ecohydrology, tree demography, and dendrochronology.

In addition, her background includes biochemical cancer research, EPA Superfund cleanup, Los Alamos National Laboratory environmental monitoring, radioactive materials handling and disposal, and a stint as a Helitack wildland firefighter in Santa Fe National Forest.

This program is free, and there is no advance registration required. For more information about this and other programs offered by PEEC, visit, email or call 662-0460.

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