Taos County, New Mexico

Situated along the western edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the communities of Taos County are consistently exposed to wildfires. Not only are homes and properties at risk to wildfires, but local watersheds, infrastructure, and valuable historical and cultural resources are threatened, including the 1,000-year-old Taos Pueblo, a World Heritage Site. Irrigation and municipal water supplies, wilderness areas, and irreplaceable archaeological resources further complicate the wildfire landscape.

Recognizing these potential dangers, Taos County participated in the CPAW program in 2016. Working closely with the County Planning Department, Carson National Forest, Taos Pueblo, and local community leaders, the CPAW team provided technical assistance to Taos in two ways.

First, the CPAW team reviewed and assessed key land use planning and development documents, such as the Comprehensive Plan and County Land Use Regulations. The team developed a suite of recommendations that can be incorporated into the County’s planning documents to improve its approach to community wildfire mitigation.

Secondly, the CPAW team worked with officials on the ground and consultants to develop highly detailed wildfire risk maps. In addition to helping prioritize land use planning priorities, these maps can help identify fuel treatment project locations.

In 2017, CPAW worked with partners to provide feedback on updates to Community Wildfire Protection Plans, and helped develop outreach materials including a story map and brochure in English and Spanish.

The Taos County CPAW project is supported in part by the LOR Foundation.

Snapshot

  • 2016 CPAW Community
  • Population (2014): 33,084
  • Growth Rate (2000-2015): 9%
  • Fuel type: Pinyon-juniper, mixed conifer, shrub/grassland

The Taos County Planning Department is using all of the work provided by CPAW to help develop wildfire risk reduction strategies.

Nathan Sanchez

Chief Planner, Taos County