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Mescalero Apache Tribe, New Mexico

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Officials say two suspicious fires broke out on the Mescalero Apache Reservation on June 2 just hours before outbreak of a blaze that burned within 100 yards of the tribe's Inn of the Mountain Gods resort and casino. Arson is suspected in the 468-acre Trap and Skeet Fire. Crews from the tribe and the BIA have spent the past month building an elaborate system of erosion and flood control aimed at keeping runoff from heading toward the resort and casino. Tribal officials said they will wait and see if the $1 million in flood-control measures work. Crews set up five earthen dams, or debris basins, in each of two steep forks that drain down the fire-damaged mountainside into Tunnel Canyon leading into the resort parking lot. They bulldozed a 500-yard-long, stone-lined ditch to funnel runoff from that canyon away from the resort. Workers staked hundreds of straw wattles to about 270 acres of blackened forest flood in staggered, horizontal lines. The pole-shaped batches of hay bound in biodegradable netting will slow runoff and catch ash-laden silt that could raise the acidity of Mescalero Lake and kill fish. Some 27 acres of mountainside were carpeted with straw netting held in place by biodegradable mesh.