See below for the latest (edited) membership letter, sent out in December 2017.
Hello Custodian of Public Lands Legacy,
We have so much to celebrate….starting with the Decision by Federal District Court Judge Matsch to protect Wolf Creek Pass, reversing the Forest Service’s Record of Decision for the land exchange, which would have enabled the large-scale development to move forward; recently the Developers have appealed the Judge’s decision and it is now before the Court of Appeals, but we are cautiously optimistic that upon review, Judge Matsch’s decision will stand.
We have just completed the SLV Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling Study, which provides a practical 10-year Plan to move forward with a model that addresses regional solutions to waste reduction and recycling, which in turn will reduce illegal dumping on public lands.
Finally, making recommendations for the twenty-year Rio Grande National Forest Plan revision, which has been reflected in the Forest Service Alternative D.
However, these vital SLVEC efforts are vulnerable to a current national landscape of uncertainty, where public assets and management of our natural resources are being challenged by Presidential Executive Order, coupled with legislative agendas that prioritize energy development over addressing the importance of climate change policy to mitigate environmental impacts and support renewable energy.
So how are we forging ahead? One day at a time. Incrementalism and its day-to-day vigilance has provided SLVEC opportunities to establish better protections for our public lands and grace us with strategic victories. This current national shift requires continued research, focus, outreach, and attention to detail. SLVEC’s leadership believes in a future where common sense policy approaches are embraced by government agencies and no longer challenged, prioritizing benefits to public interest. Political education must include a process that elevates the needs of biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental health.
SLVEC Essential Project work for 2018 and beyond:
1) Resource planning efforts- Rio Grande National Forest Management Plan Revision
The Rio Grande National Forest is revising their twenty year Management Plan under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A draft Forest Plan was released for public comment. We recommended Alternative D that includes 285,000 acres of additional Wilderness and Special Interest Areas that contain geologic sites like La Ventana, and watershed areas that support Rio Grande Cutthroat like those found in Chama Basin.
SLVEC worked on these and other recommendations throughout the Forest for the past two years; compiling biological and wildlife data, supplemented by ground-truthing to make the most accurate scientific recommendations that support landscape level ecosystems, but are also mindful of traditional uses and avoidance of user conflicts. Go to Rio Grande National Forest Planning.
Forest Service Alternative D prioritizes locations with certain land values including lands with Wilderness Characteristics and Top Tier Roadless Areas in order to protect the headwaters and watersheds. It also encourages inter-agency cooperation and continuity of land management designations with neighboring Bureau of Land Management and adjacent forests.
2) Environmental Health
Solid Waste Management (SWM) -- Illegal dumping and recycling, encourage Regional Planning!
SLVEC worked with the Colorado Dept of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE), Conejos Clean Water (CCW), and SLV Counties to build capacity and develop a Solid Waste Management Regional Study that redirects illegal dumping off public and private lands by developing a 10-year Plan for recycling and solid waste reduction. We assembled a 15-member citizen Task Force to collect baseline data on the region’s recycling capacity, which involved contacting 80 waste generators including landfills, businesses, waste haulers, government agencies, transfer station operations, and organizations involved in waste diversion and recycling. We conducted six stakeholder public meetings throughout 2017, which informed our Task Force who met monthly throughout the year.
Christine Canaly, Director