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Fire Follow-up: ‘New Mexico in Focus’ looks at Las Conchas blaze

Sarah Gustavus vividly remembers covering the Las Conchas Fire about six years ago.

It was interesting for her to have a crew return six years later to see how the landscape has changed.

The story is part of tonight’s New Mexico PBS’ “New Mexico in Focus” new segment called “Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present & Future.”

It airs the second Friday of each month during “New Mexico in Focus,” and Gustavus is a producer. It airs at 7 tonight on New Mexico PBS.

Each segment will run five to 10 minutes within the hourlong program. Laura Paskus, an environment reporter for NM Political Report, is the correspondent in the piece.

“I covered that fire for NPR and KUNM,” she says. “Going up there to see what’s happening there today. We are taking folks out there to conceptualize for the viewers. It’s just not a sad story. The forest has changed permanently. We’re trying to be honest and real about the issues that exist now.”

Gustavus says the segment looks at many issues.

It is six years after the fire threatened Los Alamos and burned thousands of acres into four pueblos, including Santa Clara Pueblo’s watershed. The crew looks at what has happened to the land.

“This was a fire which blazed so hot and fast, that it behaved as fires don’t – burning down hills, scorching across previously burned scars, baking the soil and vaporizing all seeds,” she says.

The segment looks at how the land recovers from such devastation.

It also answers the questions what is needed? And how long will it take? And is there still danger of flash flooding?

“This segment gives us a chance to step back and look at issues in a broad way,” Gustavus says. “We thought doing it once a month was great. Having it be a regular part of the series. I hope to grow it. I’m making sure that we have some depth in each piece.”

With each piece, Gustavus says, there is a one- to two-month planning period.

She has been a producer since December 2014 and is often staying in tune with what’s happening in the world.

“I’m taking a look at what’s happening in the world and getting some incredible local people and sharing some insight,” she says. “I love piecing that together.”

Funding for “Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present & Future” is provided in part by the Neeper Natural History Programming Fund for KNME-TV.

In addition to the land segment, the show will also have a four-part series called “Brain Drain.” The second segment airs tonight on “New Mexico in Focus.”

The four-part series takes a look at the thousands of the state’s best and brightest college graduates, many are planning to move out of state in search of better job opportunities.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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