Pueblo neighbors and LANL partner for fire mitigation

Cleared on-site overgrowth repurposed for winter heat

November 21, 2022

1027 Firewood Opt
The entire supply of wood was collected over the course of four days.

In early October, tribal members from the Accord pueblos of San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Cochiti and Jemez picked up hundreds of cords of free firewood from the Lab, helping repurpose timber that was cleared during on-site forest fire mitigation efforts this year.

“This is our fourth year of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) making the excess wood available, and it’s a win-win for us and our Pueblo neighbors, whose lands border the Laboratory,” said Ted Wyka, manager of the NNSA Los Alamos Field Office. “Furthermore, thinning the forest’s understory reduces the threat of wildfire on Lab property and in neighboring communities.”

The cleared wood is part of a larger effort between the Lab and the NNSA to improve forest health on Lab property, which encompasses approximately 40 square miles. Since the Cerro Grande fire in 2000, the Lab has been thinning trees to reduce fuel loads and the threat of wildfire. Such efforts helped curtail the spread of last summer’s Cerro Pelado fire toward the Laboratory and the Los Alamos townsite.

Cleared firewood helps heat homes

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 also gave Pueblo elders first priority.

“This is an excellent way to help our neighbors, and as we mitigate forest-fire risk, we also make sure nothing goes to waste,” said Jim Jones, wildfire manager at the Laboratory. “I anticipate the firewood giveaway will continue as long as we are doing this kind of forest stewardship at the Laboratory.”