New Mexico Art Tells its History

History/Text: Deforestation

One fourth of the state of New Mexico is covered by forested land. The state has seven National Forests including the Nation's largest, the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest. Deforestation in the state usually occurs through natural fires, and is not brought on by development or other needs of man.

The state’s largest fire to date is the Las Conchas fire in 2011, which charred 150,000 acres, burning down trees that were scorched in the huge Cerro Grande fire in 2000 in the National Park Service's Bandelier National Monument. When a controlled burn escalated out of control due to high winds, 25,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, and 48,000 acres were damaged and destroyed by this fire.

Many of the trees in New Mexico forests are sought after for their wood, including pinon, juniper and pine. Forest management has become an increasingly important issue in the wake of these fires.

Forests have also been cleared in the area in order to clear the land for mining. For the most part, this is no longer the case, as most of the mining done in the area is limited to the sites that are currently already operating.

Las Conchas Fire (2011):
Cerro Grande Fire (2000):

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