Cleared trees provide winter heat for Pueblo neighbors

Timber cleared during wildfire mitigation efforts at Los Alamos National Lab go to tribal members to heat homes

November 8, 2023


Woodstoves and kiva fireplaces are warming up this winter, thanks to free firewood cleared from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Recently, tribal members from the neighboring Accord Pueblos of San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Cochiti and Jemez collected hundreds of cords of firewood from Laboratory property, repurposing timber that was cleared during on-site wildfire mitigation efforts this year.

Every year since 2019, the Emergency Management Division has been thinning trees and other accelerants in and around Laboratory property to reduce fuel loads and lessen the threat of wildfires. This year, about 100 acres around the Emergency Operations Center and 135 acres in Rendija Canyon were selectively thinned, creating more than 350 cords of wood for surrounding Pueblo partners.   

“Fire mitigation is a year-round mission here at Los Alamos National Laboratory,” said Ted Wyka, manager of the National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Field Office. “We were grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Accord Pueblos for the fifth year on an aspect of the Laboratory’s wildfire mitigation program where wildfire fuel is harvested from the Laboratory and offered as firewood to our neighbors.”

In all, the 350 cords of ponderosa pine can produce more than 560 million Btus of energy. The average 1,500-square-foot home uses around 12,000 Btus to maintain an interior temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the type of wood and location of the resident, a cord of firewood can cost $450 to $550 in New Mexico. The firewood giveaway prioritizes Pueblo elders.

“This is an excellent way to help our neighbors during the colder months and it makes sure, through the fire mitigation process, nothing goes to waste,” said Laboratory wildfire manager Jim Jones. “I anticipate the firewood giveaway will continue as long as we are doing this kind of forest stewardship at the Laboratory.”