SANTA FE ― The USDA Forest Service announced it has awarded the multi-year stewardship contract for the Southwest Jemez Mountains (SWJM) Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) to TC Company, a local contractor based in Northern New Mexico.
Treatments outlined in the contract for stewardship services are designed to mitigate the risk of high-severity wildfire and restore ecosystem function to frequent-fire forests in the southwestern Jemez Mountains.
“The forests of northern New Mexico are under tremendous stress from climate change. Communities and their water supplies are at risk from catastrophic wildfire,” said Cal Joyner, Regional Forester for the Forest Service’s Southwestern Region. “The Southwest Jemez project is a community-based approach grounded in science. It will provide much-needed jobs, while restoring the forests, protecting communities and improving water quality.”
Under the terms of the contract, TC Company will implement task orders for mechanical thinning over a five-year base period with an additional five option years based on performance and the availability of funding. The task orders are designed to accelerate restoration efforts to improve forest health while simultaneously providing jobs and services to nearby communities.
In addition to on-the-ground treatments, TC Company will haul wood removed from the project to Walatowa Timber Industries (WTI) for processing. Established in July 2012, WTI is a joint venture between the Pueblo of Jemez and TC Company owner Terry Conley. WTI sells wood products, including lumber, latillas, vigas, mulch and firewood, and provides raw materials to local mills that depend on materials from the Santa Fe National Forest.
In association with the Jemez Community Development Corporation, the WTI joint venture has created jobs for the Pueblo of Jemez and contributed to the local economy since its founding. Implementation of the stewardship contract will continue that trend.
“Collaboration and community have been key to developing the strategy for the Southwest Jemez restoration project,” SFNF Forest Supervisor Maria T. Garcia said. “The Santa Fe National Forest and our partners are looking forward to working with TC Company and Walatowa Timber Industries to improve the health and resiliency of the forest while also respecting the historical, cultural and social values of the community.”
The SWJM project is one of the largest forest landscape restoration projects in the Southwest, encompassing almost one-quarter million acres across multiple ownership boundaries. More than 40 agencies and stakeholder groups are part of the collaborative to restore and protect forest and riparian ecosystems, wildlife habitat and cultural resources.