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Philmont preps for a big summer

Colfax Soil and Conservation district hears encouraging updates

by Sharon Niederman
RATON — At the May 4, 2021 meeting of the Colfax Soil and Conservation District, Casey Myers, wildlife biologist, said Philmont Scout Ranch anticipated the arrival of 28,000 scouts this summer.
“We’re in the throes of getting ready to open,” he said. Fifty staff members have been hired in the conservation department to open up backcountry trails and campsites, while 1300 seasonal staff members are coming on board.

Another optimistic report came in from Arnie Fridt, state forester of the Cimarron District.  Lance Forest Products of California is moving ahead with bringing a sawmill to Cimarron, a project that fell by the wayside several years ago. An economic study of and purchase agreement for the mill site is in the works. “With efforts by the county, the old mill site will be rezoned into Cimarron,” he said. He anticipates the mill will open by 2022.

Preparations are being made for wildland fire season with 10 firefighters and two dispatchers brought on board.  A prescribed burn of 5000 acres was conducted on the Valle Vidal.

Boe Lopez said the County Cooperative Extension Office had a successful Arbor Day with the traditional tree giveaway at IN Bank, and  planning for the livestock sale and the Colfax County Fair is underway.
Tony Arnhold, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the new range management specialist in the Mora office will start June 20, while trainee Megan Rice will start work in Raton May 23.  Dam inspections are planned and $2 million is going into forestry in the northern counties.

Joel Lemons, assistant general manager of Vermejo Park Ranch, reported that headquarters has measured one-third of an inch of precipitation, creating fair ranch conditions in the high country and fair to poor conditions in the plain.  Owing to snowmelt, river flows are slightly above the median.

A large scale, multi-year project to restore the lower Ponil to pre-human habitation conditions is underway, and will return wetlands to the area.

Dean Bruce, natural resource policy planning analyst for the NM Department of Agriculture, detailed several upcoming granting and learning events and opportunities, such as a healthy soil webinair on May 21, a May 19 online tribal water issues workshop, and an agri-future session aimed at those aged 18-41, as well as the May 25-26 Women in Agricultural Leadership conference. Find details on the NMDA website.