The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rio Puerco Field Office, in partnership with the Cuba Soil and Water Conservation District and the Socorro Field Office, will treat approximately 7,000 acres of native brush encroachment in Central and Western New Mexico beginning approximately Oct. 5. Thinning treatments will occur on BLM-managed land within McKinley, Cibola, and Socorro counties where native bush and juniper tree densities have surpassed historic, naturally occurring levels.
The objective of the thinning treatments is to improve native plant species diversity, which will benefit wildlife, rangeland and watershed health by reducing the density of sagebrush and juniper trees and result in an increase of native grasses, forbs and other herbaceous vegetation to hold soil in place and decrease erosion.
For the treatment, a low-flying aircraft will drop Tebuthiuron pellets, a soil-applied herbicide that inhibits photosynthesis, on native bush and juniper trees. The herbicide will have minimal impact on desirable grasses and forbs, and because the herbicide is applied in pellet form, it will not drift from the treated areas. When the pellets dissolve during precipitation, they are absorbed into the ground to a depth of approximately two feet. They are then taken up by the target plant’s root system, eventually reducing the sagebrush and juniper tree density. The pellets will not be dropped near waterways or on slopes greater than ten percent.
For further information, please contact Casey Spradley with the Cuba Soil and Water Conservation District at 575-289-3950 Ext. 1, or BLM Albuquerque District Project Coordinator Jeff Fassett at 575-838-1245.