PVFB recruit class begins in March
Twice a year the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade holds a recruit class to prepare new members to respond to calls in a safe and effective manner. The class provides a variety of topics, such as Hazardous Materials Awareness, CPR, Blood-Borne Pathogens (handling yourself safely in the presence of blood), the Incident Command System, and Fire-ground Safety. Many of these courses are mandated by federal, state, and county agencies for emergency-services personnel.
In addition, the class provides an overview of the Placitas area, dispatch system, and the operating procedures of the PVFB. After completing this class, new recruits can function as support personnel on scenes. If they would like to provide additional services, they can then move on to become certified in emergency medical response and/or firefighting. The PVFB pays for all training and equipment.
The Placitas community has been growing rapidly for many years, and we try to keep our roster of responders growing as well. Participation in the department can be an educational and rewarding experience. 2003 will be the thirtieth anniversary of the PVFB.
The dates for the Recruit Class (approximately thirty hours total) are:
- Wednesday, March 26 (evening)
- Saturday, April 5 (all day)
- Sunday, April 6 (all day)
- Wednesday, April 9 (evening)
- Saturday, April 12 (all day)
- Tuesday, April 15 (evening)
If you think you would be interested in joining the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade, you will need to sign up for the one-hour prospective-member session, which outlines the responsibilities and requirements of the department. Please call Daisy, at 867-3790.
Forester’s log: the Bosque Education Guide
I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a friend, working on an update of a teacher’s guide about the bosque. Here in New Mexico, “bosque,” a Spanish word for woods, refers specifically to the strips of cottonwood forests that form along our waterways. As one of the four main editors, I have worked with approximately one hundred individuals who have contributed some vision or writing to the book. The final draft (six hundred-plus pages) of the second edition is sitting in front of me in a three-ring notebook.
In the past ten years, the bosque has transformed from an ecosystem at risk to an ecosystem with hope. Although restoration of the bosque is far from complete, recent activities on the ground provide encouragement and enthusiasm. The decade has seen government at its best—local, state, and federal entities working together to address declining riparian health. The Middle Rio Grande Bosque Initiative, an effort supported by Senator Pete Domenici and funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has sponsored much of this work, including the development of the Bosque Education Guide.
Interest in bosque restoration started in 1991 when Senator Domenici appointed a nine-member citizen committee to examine problems facing the bosque. On their recommendation, in 1993 a team of federal and university biologists wrote a report about the past, present, and probable future of the cottonwood forest growing along the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. The Middle Rio Grande Ecosystem: Bosque Biological Management Plan described a forest in immediate trouble. The cottonwood forest, long dependent on the cycle of annual floods and meandering river channels, was rapidly fading. Human alterations to the ecosystem had created conditions that were hostile to native plants and animals and promoted exotic species. An array of dams and ditches had changed the way water operated throughout the system. The cottonwood tree, which grows from seed on damp, bare soil, was no longer regenerating naturally in the river valley. Several exotic trees, such as salt cedar and Russian olive, were increasing throughout the existing forest. The plan boldly outlined a strategy to recover essential elements of the ecosystem.
Inspired by this technical document, and knowing increased community support for the bosque would be essential for the plan’s success, a group of us started brainstorming about how to teach others about the bosque. Within months, a grassroots team of educators and resource managers was developing ideas for classroom teachers. The resulting Bosque Education Guide was first published in 1995. Since that time over five hundred educators have attended training and used the guide to help students understand bosque issues more clearly.
Meanwhile, bosque managers were completing projects based on recommendations in the plan. Bosque restoration projects included pole plantings of cottonwood trees, removal of exotic species and excess fuels, lowering of riverbanks to allow overbank flooding, and managing the river flow to support elements of the ecosystem, including the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. Within five years, we realized the guide needed a stronger emphasis on restoration. We had also been asked to expand the guide’s age range, add more subjects and themes, and provide additional activities. In 2000, we started revamping the guide.
Now the light is blazing at the end of the tunnel. The second edition of the Bosque Education Guide was ready by mid-February. We hope to distribute the first three hundred copies this spring to educators in New Mexico.
The guide is more comprehensive than we ever expected. It includes a correlation for grade levels from kindergarten through high school with state education standards for all subjects, over twenty-five completely new activities, many revamped and revised activities, and expanded sections on bosque ecology, service learning, teacher essays, and appendices.
Back at the coffee shop, I contemplate the important role this guide will have in shaping our future river system. I too want to kiss its cover.
Visit http://ifw2irm2.irm1.r2.fws.- gov/mrgbi/index.html to learn more about the Middle Rio Grande Bosque Initiative. For information on upcoming Bosque Education Guide workshops, call the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque at (505) 344-7240.
Mary Stuever is a consulting forester specializing in forest ecosystems of the American Southwest. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.