“The Gila National Forest’s Silver Fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) seeding and mulching are progressing well on the high burn severity areas” stated BAER Implementation Leader Tracy Weber in a press release from July 25th.  Over 11,000 acres of severely burned areas will be seeded, with nearly 3,000 additional acres being mulched.  Additional seeding for Phase II of the project should begin early next week.

Silver Fire BAER Seed Plane

Seeding projects are being conducted from the Forest’s Air Tanker base south of Hurley, and are expected to be completed within a few days.  It takes around 45 minutes round-trip for an air tractor, or a fixed wing airplane, to perform one of these seeding drops.  The seed consists of a mix of nearly 50% annual barley to provide rapid ground cover for this year, and the rest is made up of native perennial species to provide long term cover and jump start a natural recovery.

Silver Fire BAER Fluffing Straw

Mulching projects are being conducted out of Emory Pass off NM-152, where three helicopters are using nets to lift up “fluffed” straw bales and dispersing them over high burn severity areas.  This is to provide immediate ground cover to help control erosion and water runoff, as well as stabilizing soil for seeding.  NM-152 is currently closed for public safety while trucks and helicopters transport the straw bales.  Currently, NM-152 is expected to reopen on August 5th.

Helicopter mulching Silver Fire BAER

For more information about the BAER Implementation, call 388-8382, or visit the Gila National Forest Website at www.fs.usda.gov/gila/.  For information about the road closure, visit www.nmdot.com, or call 511 in the state of New Mexico.