We are in the midst of a 90 day public comment period for the Rio Grande National Forest as they head into their next phase of their planning process, having presented their alternative choices (A through D) towards their 20-year management plan revision.
This public process is deciding how the Forest will be managed over the next 20 years.
Your participation is essential.
SLVEC is supporting Alternative D (for Defense), the most conservation -minded alternative.
These are our public lands and we need to stand together for its long term protection, especially to support wildlife corridors and watersheds, to maintain flexibility—and guard buffer zones that mitigate pressures like climate change.
The Forest and the species that depend on i's bio-diverse qualities for survival must be able to access land connectivity and avoid stress, which is inevitable when faced with fragmentation of the landscape.
It's clear the Forest is going to feel more developmental pressure over the next 20 years, not less, so how do we plan for its long term sustainable values? By advocating for it's conservation qualities.
By supporting Alternative D, we are providing elbow room for the land to be able to adapt itself, re-calibrate and adjust to what is happening not just on the ground but ability to adapt to the surrounding climate.
Nature's own version of adaptive management needs to be applied to this landscape, not just to those that are managing it.
The best way to arrive at good decisions is by rigorous decision making, involving best available science and consideration of biological functions.
This is not the time to capitulate our public assets to the next market driven pursuit.
We know better than to make ourselves and other critters unnecessarily vulnerable.
A bit of history
SLVEC purposely collaborated with several other geological, soils, timber, water, fire, wildlife, recreational, botanical, historical/archeological and policy experts (to name a few).
Two years of field study, cross-referencing the details in old and new maps, present management plans, traditional use patterns, water mapping and data of all sorts, culminated in the extensive and comprehensive recommendations that were then submitted to the Rio Grande National Forest for consideration last October 2016. See those documents here.
Many of these well studied and experienced recommendations are included in "Alternative D" (as in Defense!).
SLVEC supports Alternative D which provides the best overall protection of present resources and traditional uses, embraces present multiple use strategies-within the present roads and trails systems, highlights the importance of water/wetlands protection, and extends recommendations for some crucial wilderness level protection management in low use areas than contain essential qualities for increased connectivity of habitat and present use strategies.
Many management standards get applied at the project level (timber, mining and resource extraction, wildlife protocols, hunting/fishing/grazing, trail maintenance, multi-use applications, resource development etc). Alternative D gives the best foundation to the Forest Service going forth.
Essentially, with a stronger structure of planning, conflicting uses are still possible, but less likely.
With a weak, nebulous or non-existent management standard (such as currently being proposed), non-traditional uses presented in the future are very likely and will be difficult to mitigate, even with the best of intentions.
- We support agriculture, who depend on high quality water that is purified in our forests.
- We support renewable energy, it's here and already provides the valuable components necessary for climate change adaptability.
- Renewable Energy production and forest land use can work together for mutually beneficial purposes.
Written (emailed) comments will be welcomed by the Forest Service until December 29th.
It has been suggested that if you have a specific area that you are familiar with, enjoy, and can speak to any management planning you would like to see implemented, that is very helpful.
Suggested talking points:
- Thank the Forest Service for recommending Wilderness on the Sangre de Cristo side of the Forest, but the San Juan mountains also need protection
- Support Alternative D because it conserves places throughout the entire Rio Grande Forest as Recommended Wilderness Areas and Special Interest Areas.
- Alternative D will keep the Valley how it is. It will ensure that we have a dependable and clean water supply and it will conserve the beautiful mountain scenery, trout habitat, and wildlife.
- Support the designation of five special interest areas in Alternative D.
These are the Summer Coon/La Ventana Area, Jim and Carnero Creek Trout Conservation Areas, Chama Basin Watershed Protection Area, and Spruce Hole/Osier Wildlife Connectivity Area. These five special interest areas allow a variety of uses while ensuring that the truly special features within this national forest are protected.
You are also welcome to include the following forest service personnel:
SLVEC, P.O. Box 223, Alamosa, CO 81101
Postal Service mail to:
Rio Grande National Forest
Forest Plan Revision
1803 US Hwy 160
Monte Vista, CO 81144
Note from the Forest Service:
The Rio Grande National Forest planning documents (DEIS) are posted on the Rio Grande National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande. Click on the "forest plan" link on the right side of the page.
If you scroll down you can access the draft plan and DEIS with one click in the schedule table or click on the draft plan landing page link.
Feel free to contact Mike Blakeman or Erin Minks (719-852-6215) if you have questions.