Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Disappointingly we got the notification today that they will not accept our money and will run cows again on the Preserve. The Valles Caldera National Preserve is a treasure and we are very lucky to have it in public ownership, but cows grazing this jewel is not appropriate. Especailly after such a large fire, the grasslands and forests need time to recover with out cattle trampling the sensitive soils and grazing down the new growth.
Not only does the Preserve authorize grazing by domestic livestock, but there have been trespass cattle in the Preserve that come in from the surrounding National Forest lands to gorge on the robust, green grasses. The Preserve staff makes a heroic effort to round up and return the offending cattle, but as soon as they turn around there are more. This problem has to be solved with more vigilance and tougher fines on the owners of the trespass cows.
In the meantime, cows, both authorized and unauthorized, will graze in the magnificent valleys of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. WildEarth Guardians and our volunteers will continue to work with the staff and managers to restore degraded ecosystems in the Preserve and ensure cows remain out of the sensitive streams and wildlife habitats. We have several work days coming up to remove barbed wire and other ranching infrastructure that will ensure the least impact from cows. Join us!
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Good News: President Clinton's Roadless Rule was upheld by a panel of 10th Circuit federal judges recently. The bad: there are numerous political attacks being mounted on America's great conservation legacy, including roadless areas on the National Forest System. Until there is a permanent legislative fix protecting roadless forests, they will continue to blow in the political winds.
But WildEarth Guardians is excited to announce the release of a state-by-state, west-wide manual on protecting undeveloped, roadless forests using the Clean Water Act. Until we can secure permanent protection of roadless areas on the National Forest System, the Clean Water Act antidegradation provisions hold a state-level, citizen's tool for protection of waters in roadless areas and in turn the lands that affect the quality of those waters. Although water quality standards vary state-by-state, the antidegradation standard for "Outstanding Waters" is generally quite strong: no degradation. This degree of state-level protection can provide a bulwark against development of wild forests that might lead to degradation of their waters until full federal protection for roadless areas is final.
In this brand new report, "Clean Waters, Wild Forests: A Citizen Manual for Designating Outstanding Waters in the Wild Forests of the Western United States" we've done the work for you of describing in detail the procedures in 13 western states. So, don't wait any longer, get out there and ask your state to give the highest degree of protection to the pristine waters in roadless areas!
See this and other WildEarth Guardians' reports here: http://www.wildearthguardians.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Though the size of the individual fires broke all records for New Mexico and Arizona and fire behaved uncharacteristically in ponderosa pine – the fires mostly burned as expected. Where it burned unexpectedly hot highlights the need to focus scare resources on forest restoration in these vegetation types.
The results, based on preliminary data, reinforce the facts that fire is a natural process in southwestern forests and will present challenges for communities that live in and nearby these forests. In addition, where the fires did burn abnormally, attention is needed on those particular forest types in the form of thinning and controlled burns.
The GIS analysis, performed by Bird’s Eye View GIS, demonstrates that four fires, each very different in region and the vegetation types burned were large, making up almost 40% of all the wildland acreage burned in 2011 outside of Texas. The 7.5 million acres burned in wildfires this year is above the 10-year average of 6 million acres, but still far below the 145 million acres that burned on average prior to 1800.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Congressman Steve Pearce plans on cutting trees down on the Lincoln National Forest as a part of Otero County’s emergency tree cutting stunt scheduled on September 17, 2011. But it is a mystery what exactly the emergency is and what Otero County and Congressman Pearce are protesting. They appear to be under the impression that the Lincoln National Forest is not managing hazardous fuels and thus failing to address fire risk. But they are dangerously deluded.
A quick look at the numbers immediately puts the Congressman’s fears to rest. In the past 10 years (2000-2010) the national forest has treated forest-wide nearly 3 times more acres for hazardous fuels than in the 20-year period during 1980-1999. Congressman Pearce can now go back to his job in Washington and stop inciting hysteria amongst his constituents.
By cutting trees without a permit, the Otero County Commissioners and Congressman Pearce risked arrest and charges of violating federal law for stealing and/or damaging government property. (See for example 18 USC 371; 18 USC 641; 18 USC 1852; 7 CFR 3017.305; 7 CFR 3017.405; 36 CFR 223.48; and 36 CFR 261.6). However, it seems the Forest Service in Albuquerque will bend over backward to accommodate their political theatrics. According to the Alamogordo Daily News, Otero County Commissioners have negotiated a deal with federal attorneys in Albuquerque. An agreement that allows logging on one parcel of land in the forest was signed through the U.S. Attorney's office.
However, the commissioners and Congressman Pearce still need sawyer’s certificates, insurance and bonding to be allowed onto the logging site. Logging is inherently hazardous and requires experience, safety training, and safety equipment. If OSHA decides to make an inspection of the logging event, participants will have to be fully compliant with federal law or face citations and steep fines.
The Congressman’s theatrics demonstrate just how far outside of the mainstream he is. Fuels treatment programs on the national forests in New Mexico are ongoing, including thinning and controlled burning. The Forest Service Southwestern Region treated 202,414 acres (76,661 in NM and 125,753 in AZ) in 2010 for high hazardous fuel loads and to date 87,438 acres (35,208 in NM and 52,230 in AZ) in 2011. George Ellinger, owner of Ellinger Logging in Alamogordo, N.M., told the Alamogordo Daily News on that Pearce is misinformed. “There’s a misconception that there’s no logging going on,” he said. “Pearce came down and did a big talk with everybody, but he’s not talking to anybody who knows anything.”
Rather than rabble-rousing vigilante behavior, the Congressman should join conservationists, forest practitioners, the forest service, and the forest products industry in working on forest management programs that have been agreed upon and are scientifically defensible, for example the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program. But this takes time and energy as well as commitment to compromise, which seems outside of Congressman Pearce’s playbook.
Pearce’s desire to return the logging industry in New Mexico to its glory days is simply anachronistic and ignores free market economics. Housing starts and the lumber industry have reached historic lows in recent years, without demand logging and milling make no sense. However, controlled burning and strategic thinning does make sense and generates jobs and income. The Congressman should support the programs that facilitate these activities. He’s welcome to join us in the zone of agreement anytime.