Forest Health

While “Forest Health” involves more than just fire prevention, in the Spring and early Summer, FIRE DANGER is on everyone’s mind.

While “Forest Health” involves more than just fire prevention, in the Spring and early Summer, FIRE DANGER is on everyone’s mind. firewise.org

Due to our high winds and in light of our current fire danger, it is more than encouraged that ALG&CC owners take responsibility for the health of their properties (see paragraph B, below).  Both the Zoning mandate and the requirement for owners to appropriately maintain lots (re grass & tree trimming) becomes more critical than ever.

The Alto Lakes Special Zoning Commission solicits your assistance in helping to keep our Community safe from fire at the end (we hope!) of the current fire season.  Please pay attention to your property here in Alto Lakes and remove any yard debris (pine needles, pine cones, branches), removes any “ladder fuels” from your property, and trim low-lying trees from the ground up per guidelines below.

If you cannot attend to your property or need assistance with yard work, some Lawn Maintenance services can be found in the Classified Ads of either the Ruidoso News (http://www.ruidosonews.com/) or Free Press (http://ruidosofreepress.com/) newspapers, on the internet, or in the Alamogordo phone book (which serves both the Alto/Ruidoso areas).

In light of fire season and the danger recognized to our community, your attention is called to Section 16 of the ALSZD Comprehensive Zoning and Land Use Ordinance, which details the need and requirement for owners to appropriately maintain their lots (re grass & tree trimming):

Section 16 of the ALSZD Ordinance states:

A. Purpose.  The District includes large areas of forests and natural habitat. The intent of the regulations in this section is to address public health, safety, and general welfare issues that arise from the forests and natural habitat.

B. Forested property. Forested property that is not properly maintained constitutes a nuisance and a fire hazard.

1. Except for the forest waste collection yard, no forest waste, forest debris, dead trees, or insect infested trees, shall be permitted to accumulate on any lot for longer than 30 days. The property owner shall promptly remove and lawfully dispose of all forest waste, forest debris and trees.

2. Trees shall be trimmed from the ground to the lesser of eight feet or twenty five percent of the height of the tree.

3. The Commission may grant exceptions for dead trees which the Commission determines are needed for soil stabilization or nutrients in areas burned by fire.

4. Grasses shall be cut 30 feet back from streets and roads. Cutting should be done between October 1st and December 30th of each year to provide a fire hazard buffer zone during the dry, windy winter and spring months.

C. Animal and Bird feeders. Wild animals that become dependent upon human-provided food become a nuisance and a hazard to the use and enjoyment of properties within the District. Nuisances may include the destruction of landscaping and fear for personal safety. Hazards may include attraction of dangerous predators.

1. Feeding and watering of deer and other wild animals are prohibited in the District.

2. Bird feeders are not prohibited, but must be elevated so as not to be accessible to wild animals.

Fire danger and Forest Health are so vital to our beautiful community.   Eddie Tudor (Capitan District Forester), Frank Silva, and Mike Caggiano are local experts, and can give you additional information about the forest cleanup program.  Broadly, there is a “cost-share” program that covers large scale forest thinning, and could minimally assist property/home owners with creating defensible space on their property.  Frank & Mike are willing to assist in providing technical assistance in identifying areas in ALG&CC that could benefit from the forest cleanup program.

Mike Caggiano may be contacted by calling the South Central Mountain Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc (575-648-2941; ext 104) or email him at mcaggiano@scmrcd.org.

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