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Village of Ruidoso

Village of RuidosoThe Village of Ruidoso is located in Lincoln County in south central New Mexico. Located at 7,000 feet elevation in the Sacramento Mountains, Ruidoso is a typical mountain community in the west. Dense stands of Ponderosa pine and other mixed conifers intermix with this growing, tourism based community. The Lincoln National Forest and Mescalero Apache Reservation surround Ruidoso along with other Federal and State lands. Ruidoso has a permanent population of 8,500 with upwards of 50% absentee landowners residing within an area encompassing 14,000 acres. In addition, Ruidoso has almost 800 acres of public land in the form of parks and green space.

Village of RuidosoIn 1998, Ruidoso began to formally address forest health and wildfire hazard reduction challenges by purchasing a “grapple” truck and offering a forest debris pick-up service.

In 2000, the Village added a second “grapple” truck and a forester to staff. The forester was charged with developing and implementing a Community Forest Management Plan (CFMP).

Village of RuidosoExisting ordinances restricting thinning efforts were relaxed and forestry lot assessments were offered. The lot assessments emphasized forest health and landscape opportunities as well as fire hazard reduction. In 2002, Village Council enacted a suite of ordinances mandating fuels reduction on all lands within Ruidoso and a fire hazard rating standard for new construction with regard to building materials and site development. The objective of the CFMP is ground fire management. Concepts from the Firewise Communities USA program and research done on home ignition zones were combined to establish objective fuels management standards.

 A municipal forestry department was created in 2003 and two additional “grapple” trucks were purchased as demand for services increased. The Village contracts with Sierra Contracting Inc., a local composting enterprise and recycles 100% of removed forest debris (upwards of 40,000 cubic yards/year). Recent revisions of the 2002 ordinances include protection of old and large trees, protection of root zones during site development, and establishing guidelines for bark beetle habitat reduction. In 2003, the Village was recognized with a Firewise Communities USA award and a National US Forest Service Rural Communities Assistance Spirit award.

Village of RuidosoStrong public awareness is essential to successful implementation. The Village has a forestry website, has conducted Firewise workshops, runs TV “house make-over” spots on a local channel, offers a community tool wagon for volunteer projects, has established wildfire evacuation routes and has a computer telephone system, located at police dispatch, that can dial 500 numbers in 10 minutes delivering early warning messages for evacuation, etc.

With regard to public lands, Ruidoso hosts and coordinates the Ruidoso Wildland Urban Interface Group. This working group has met monthly since 2000 and includes Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies and entities as well as a number of non-landholding participants. The group has prioritized projects in the southwest quadrant of the WUI and the goals of the group are to: establish crown fire mitigation measures, within each agency’s management objectives, on public land; encourage a minimum of ground fire mitigation measures on private land; and to target restoration and sustainable communities through economic development. To date the combined group has treated over 6000 acres on public land and with grant assistance through New Mexico Energy, Minerals, Natural Resources Department - Forestry Division’s “cost-share” program, Ruidoso has treated close to 1500 acres of private land and efforts have resulted in an increase in the number of forest contractors from 3 companies doing business in 2000 to more than 20 active companies in 2004.