“Fortunately, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is a way to reduce risk and to offer some protection from another catastrophic fire like the Las Conchas fire of 2011.” Ron Loehman
When Ron Loehman moved with his family to New Mexico 30 years ago, he was immediately attracted to the recreational opportunities offered by the Jemez Mountains.
The combination of high peaks, majestic red rock mesas, and the many small streams flowing through steep canyons made the Jemez region a very special place. Over the years, Ron and his family have enjoyed every season in the Jemez Mountains camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, and cross country skiing.
Ron says, “I particularly like to hike into some of the more remote parts of the Jemez to fly-fish for stream-bred brown trout and native Rio Grande cutthroats. The Rio Guadalupe and San Antonio Canyon sections, the upper Rio Cebolla, and the Rio Puerco in San Pedro Parks are some of my favorite destinations.”
About a decade ago, Ron joined New Mexico Trout, a local fly-fishing group that had a strong conservation program emphasizing protection and restoration of trout streams and their surrounding riparian areas. Eventually Ron became Conservation Chairman for the group, and has been for the past five years.
“We partner with public agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the New Mexico Environment and Game and Fish Departments to provide volunteers for stream conservation projects. Riparian areas are extremely important and, with long-term forecasts calling for drought and higher temperatures, they are some of the most at-risk landscapes in New Mexico.”
The potential effect of these conditions became real with the historic 2011 Las Conchas wildfire, which devastated many of the streams on the north and eastern side of the Jemez National Forest.
“Fish populations on streams where we have done projects, such as Capulin, Peralta, and the headwaters of the San Antonio, were wiped out or greatly reduced by the fire. And all wildlife suffered, not just the trout. The scope and intensity of the damage shows how much at risk the rest of our Jemez streams are. “
Ron believes the Southwest Jemez Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration project offers a lifeline to the Jemez’s water, and the people and fish that depend on it. New Mexico Trout is one of the many partners pitching in to make forest restoration a success.
“Fortunately, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is a way to reduce risk and to offer some protection from another catastrophic fire like the Las Conchas fire of 2011.”