Western New Mexico University students are offering the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), which provides free tax preparation assistance to senior citizens and low-income families in the surrounding areas. Services will be provided Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Light Hall Room 124 on the WNMU campus. The VITA program will run until April 15th and service will be provided on a first come, first serve basis with no appointments required. For more information, visit website.

The Silver City Interagency Dispatch Center is known as the “Beating Heart” of the Gila National Forest and is central to the success of incident response for the Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces District and land managed by the State of New Mexico Forestry Division. The Dispatch Center also oversees aviation assets at the Silver City Tanker Base at the Grant County airport where they track when the aircraft is arriving, passing through or in use, as well as establishing temporary flight restrictions and working daily with regional military bases to ensure that firefighting and military aircraft are not in conflict. Last year, the center responded to 751 incidents across its landscape including wildfires, law enforcement, prescribed fires and other miscellaneous incidents.

Thanks to a $30,000 grant from the 30 something group in Silver City, The Commons Center for Food Security and Sustainability is working on building a “Choose your own Pantry Store” to help those in need pick what they want, rather than picking up a pre-packed box. This new delivery method will help with traffic congestion, meeting client’s needs, food waste and will give volunteers a chance to direct people to more resources depending on their situation. The new pantry, which is in its beginning stages of construction, will be located in front of The Commons alongside the gardens. The building of the pantry is being worked on by volunteers and is set to be completed sometime in March. 

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The United States Department of Agriculture is investing nearly $500 million to help expand work on the USDA Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy to reduce wildfire risk to communities, critical infrastructure and natural resources from the nation’s wildfire crisis. Approximately $400 million of the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds will be used for ongoing efforts on 21 priority landscapes across the West, including forest service lands in New Mexico. This work is beginning to reduce wildfire risk for some 550 communities, 2,500 miles of power lines and 1,800 watersheds.