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  • Writer's pictureTaos Acequias

McGaffey Ridge Environmental Assessment

Public Comment Period Opens for 30,000-Acre Project Near Taos





Release Date: Mar 2, 2023

Contact(s): Zach Behrens, (575) 758-6303


Carson National Forest is seeking public comments about the McGaffey Forest and Rio Grande del Rancho Watershed Restoration Project’s draft environmental analysis.

The approximately 30,000-acre proposal is centered around the Rio Grande del Rancho watershed on both sides of New Mexico State Highway


518 between the forest boundary near Talpa, NM, and US Hill. T


he project’s western boundary is Miranda Canyon and the eastern boundary is made up of the Bear Wallow and Maestas ridges.



The forest proposes to restore the overall health


and resiliency of the project area, where degraded forest conditions can cause trees to be vulnerable to insect attack, disease and inter-tree competition. The degradation also increases the risk of wildfire, which could severely affect downstream water quality, wildlife habitat, recreation access and traditional and cultural opportunities and sites, not to mention the threat of fire spreading into communities.

Timber activities, thinning and prescribed fire would be the main restoration actions over the 10 to 20 years of the project’s lifespan. Opportunities for personal fuelwood collection will also be available.

The proposal meets needs identified by the collaborative Taos Valley Watershed Coalition. The group, which was formed in 2015 with more than 20 signatories, identified an area of 280,000 acres of contiguous landscape that includes Forest Service, tribal and private lands in and adjacent to the Taos Va


lley. The goal is to restore frequent fire in appropriate ecosystems to support the protection, improvement and restoration of water quality and quantity, as well as the ecological function of the forest and its streams.

“The vision from the Taos Valley Watershed Coalition was critical in developing this proposal,” said Camino Real District Ranger Michael Lujan. “As we move forward, I welcome others to get involved in the ecological future of the valley.”

The project is also one of many within the larger 1.5 million-acre Enchanted Circle Wildfire Crisis Strategy Landscape, a third of which is on the Carson National Forest. The landscape is one of over 20 in a national initiative to a


ddress emergency conditions in forests.

The draft analysis and supporting documents can be read online (click on the Draft EA & Supporting Documents folder). Additionally, the documents can be inspected at the Camino Real Ranger Station in Peñasco or Supervisor’s Office in Taos during business hours. Comments can be dropped off at either locations, mailed to the Camino Real Ranger District or emailed to comments-southwestern-carson-caminoreal@usda.gov. Comments will be accepted through March 31, 2023.

For questions, contact the Camino Real District Ranger at


mailroom_r3_carson@usda.gov or 575-587-2255.

Location Details*

  • Camino Real Ranger District 15160 State Road 75 Peñasco, NM 87553 (575) 587-2255 Hours: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday

  • Supervisor’s Office 208 Cruz Alta Road Taos, NM 87571 (575) 758-6200


Hours: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., Monday through Friday

*Note: Winter weather can cause office opening delays or closures. Call ahead to make sure the office is open.


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