2016 MBG AGENCY MEETING
The annual Agency Meeting of the Malpai Borderlands Group (MBG) was held April 18th in the meeting room of the Malpai Ranch. Peter Warren, MBG Board Member greeted 45 ranchers, agency representatives and others. Peter briefly recounted some of the activities and projects MBG has been involved in so far this year. Highlights include the Science Conference, attended by 120 people in January, the Fire Workshop put on in cooperation with Arizona and New Mexico State Forestry in February, and the installation of a wildlife friendly fence in rough country in the Peloncillo Mountains, replacing an old sheep fence that was hazardous to Desert Bighorn.
Introductions followed Peter's remarks. Besides MBG board members, the agencies and non-profit groups represented were Arizona and New Mexico Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Hidalgo Soil and Water Conservation District, Arizona State Forestry, the Jornada Experimental Range, the Coronado National Forest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Az. and New Mexico, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge, the Bureau of Land Management, Safford and Las Cruces offices, Cochise County Cooperative Extension, The Arizona Wilderness Coalition, The Cochise County Sheriff's Department, The Border Patrol Douglas and Lordsburg Stations, the Animas Foundation and Grasslands, Inc., and the Arizona Antelope Foundation. Representatives from Arizona Senators Flake and McCain and Congresswoman McSally were also present.
Scott Cooke and R.J. Estes from the Safford office of BLM presented a report on the Baker Canyon wildfire which burned 8,000 acres in the southern Peloncillo Mountains in March (see map). A contain and control strategy was used rather than directly fighting the fire because of concern for firefighter safety in the rugged terrain, windy conditions and the fact that no structures were at immediate risk. BLM will be monitoring the effects of this fire.
Sam Smith of Grasslands, Inc. and Mark Bernal of Las Cruces BLM reported briefly on two wildfires that burned earlier this year at the very same time. One occured in Guadalupe Canyon in the Peloncillos and other in the Animas range. The fires totaled abot 10,000 acres and suppression action was taken to protect at risk assets.
Eugene Beaduin of Arizona State Forestry then presented the new Prescribed Fire Management Plan for Arizona. The plan highlights the new, more pro-active approach to fire by State Forestry and covers all aspects of prescribed burning.
After lunch, the remainder of the meeting featured updates from the agencies and organizations represented. Toward the end of the meeting, a suggestion was made that MBG consider a workshop this year to inform new agency personnel serving the area about the history and accomplishments of the Malpai Borderlands Group. Those board members present agreed to bring up the idea of a workshop at the June meeting of the board of directors.