Northern New Mexico College Seed Award

Improving Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Public Education of Wildfire Effects on Ecosystems and Communities through the Development of a Fire Ecology and Simulation Laboratory

Lead Investigators: Dr. James Biggs and Dr. Mario Montes

Project Summary

As wildfires become more destructive across New Mexico, there is a significant need to expand outreach and educational opportunities pertaining to the effects of fire on soil and water. Northern New Mexico College (NNMC) possesses facilities to support such opportunities. We propose to expand on existing curriculum to include a holistic educational program that examines fire ecology and management in Southwestern ecosystems with a focus on fire behavior, plant, water, and soil effects, and wildland-urban interface dynamics. The key component includes a fire ecology and simulation laboratory for undergraduate research and education, K-12/public education and outreach, and regional forest managers. The laboratory will be located at NNMC’s El Rito campus as part of the Agroecology and Biological Research Station. The campus is located in close proximity to the Carson National Forest and recent wildfires. The campus also houses NNMC’s Wildland Fire Science Academy that offers a fire science degree, and is a resource center for northern New Mexico fire agency training. The laboratory will consist of fire simulation equipment and software, computers, and fire ecology educational materials. A soil laboratory will be used to study the effects of fire to further illustrate elements of fire ecology.

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