Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Hold Forest Service’s feet to the fire over ‘wildfires’

When some government agencies stray from their mandates and become rogue actors, they can ignore the public’s concerns and cause serious long-term harm. A civilian review board is a way to hold public employees accountable and curtail the damage they are doing.

We expect our elected officials will oversee all federal projects to make sure they are in the interest of the health, safety and well-being of New Mexicans. However, most of the elected officials I have spoken to about the Santa Fe Resiliency Project say they are not even aware of it. shocking

Remember when 5,000 people wrote comments opposing the Santa Fe Resiliency Project? Most of the comments requested on an environmental impact statement (EIS) for such a huge project. The law requires the Forest Service to do an EIS if there is controversy or if there will be significant impact from the project. That 5,000 people wrote comments opposing the project suggests controversy. Yet the Forest Service discounted most of the official comments and refused to do the required EIS. The Forest Service should not be above the law.

The Forest Service claims there will be no significant impact from their thinning 90-plus percent of the trees on 18,000 acres and then burning 38,000 acres in the project area between Tesuque and Glorieta. No significant impact? How can anyone say there will be no significant impact from burning 38,000 acres?

If you objected to the Santa Fe Resiliency Project during the scoping period, you may send comments now.

Objections, including attachments, must be filed by May 12 via mail to Regional Forester, 333 Broadway SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102; by fax to (505) 842-3173; or by email to [email protected]

Go to OnceAForest.org and sign the petition requesting elected officials request the Forest Service do an EIS before continuing the project.

Many of us are horrified at the actions of the Forest Service on these windiest of days. There were urgent warnings of dangerous wind from several weather stations April 13, specifically including Las Dispensas, yet they ignited the Las Dispensas prescribed burn anyway. Predictably, their prescribed fire went out of control. It is the Hermits Peak Fire of 7,077 acres. That released 34,000 tons of CO2 so far. Remember the Cerro Grande fire? Now, our glorious Pecos Wilderness is in danger, and the fire (was 91% contained as of Friday morning).

And now we learn that on the same windiest of days, the Bureau of Land Management ignited a prescribed fire near Roswell. It is called the Overflow Fire. It also got out of control. Now they call it a wildfire, blaming nature for their actions, and we, the public, have lost another 2,000 acres of carbon storage. This fire emitted 9,139 tons of carbon just in the first two days.

Go to theforestadvocate.org, SantaFeForestCoalition.org and OnceAForest.org. Then call your elected officials with your view.

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