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Setting the record straight on management of Lincoln National Forest

Recently, I have seen and heard a lot of rhetoric about the management of the Lincoln National Forest in Southern New Mexico. While it isn’t unusual for people to publicly express their dissatisfaction about some facet of our management, the information and publicity surrounding the tree-cutting event on Sept. 17 near Cloudcroft was troubling because it so blatantly distorted the facts.

I am proud of the work being done by employees of the Lincoln National Forest in partnership with individuals, organizations and local governments. Tremendous work has been done to reduce the fire hazard near communities and restore the health and resiliency of the forest.


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Over 570,000 acres have been treated on the Lincoln National Forest in the past 30 years, ranging from timber sales to mechanical thinning to prescribed fire. These treatments have created wildlife openings, seeding, and watershed and rangeland improvements. Over the past decade, the Lincoln shifted its focus to national forest lands within the wildland-urban interface as identified and prioritized through community wildfire protection plans. In this 10-year time frame, the Lincoln treated over 421,000 acres compared to 159,805 acres treated in the previous 20 years.

This threefold increase demonstrates our agency’s commitment to helping protect communities from wildfire. On the Sacramento Ranger District, over 121,000 acres of treatment have occurred in the past 10 years. Specifically, of the 1,800 acres of National Forest System land within a 1/2-mile buffer of the Village of Cloudcroft, 59 percent has been treated.

Such treatments will continue with the aim of protecting communities from wildfire and improving forest health, resiliency and ecological function. In fact, our collaboration on the proposed Southern Sacramento Mountains Restoration Project through the Otero County Working Group is a prime example of how close collaboration can lead to an outstanding project with widespread ecological, recreational and economic benefit. This project proposes to restore forest health, reduce fire hazard, and support local economies on nearly 300,000 acres across Forest Service, state and private lands within the Lincoln National Forest boundary.

Management of public lands requires involvement of us all. I and the employees of the Lincoln National Forest are fully committed to working collaboratively with all of the counties and local governments in the management of the Lincoln National Forest. I believe we share a common vision for the health and resiliency of the Lincoln while providing for sustainable economic vitality and support for rural lifestyles of the mountain communities in and around the forest.

I thank all concerned citizens for their involvement in managing the Lincoln, which is your national forest. I ask for your support, your energy, and your ideas to help us meet this challenge.

Corbin Newman is regional forester of the USDA Forest Service’s Southwestern Region.

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13 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. Meadow…

    can you provide examples to validate and verify your position?

  2. The problem with letting the private sector do it is that once money starts flowing to private hands, a special interest develops to keep that money flowing regardless of conditions on the ground. And what starts as a public good becomex exploitation for private gain. Campaign donations get made, power is enshrined and decisions stop being made that are based in emipircal knowlege and start being made based solely on politics. It has happened over and over again around the west and the land, our collective birthright, suffers. It is a tragedy.

  3. Hemingway your suggested USFS program is a mouse fart in the greater scheme of things…..

    I am gald to see you like the outdoors…who doesn’t. But how much time do you spend in them.

    I spend about 3-4 days a week.

    Here is why your rhetoric rings a bit hollow with me. .

    The program you outlinied is a $40 million federal funded deal. Now there are 193 million USFS Acres..many in the western USA 27 million BLM acres.. much in the southwest… about 13 million NM-SLO surface acres..and 30 million or so tribal acres (just in the southwest USA)..

    I believe about 54 cents of every dollar from USFS goes to bureaucratic oversight of programs..So lets say that $20 million of that allotment is actuall spent on the CFLR program…..

    You do the math….probably 15 cents per acre… probably less.

    .So thanks for proving my point. The land might well better managed by the private sector not by the government.

  4. MJM – a “close coordination with other landowners to encourage collaborative solutions through landscape-scale operations.”

    http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLR/index.shtml

    In other words get rid of the empty political rhetoric and work on real solutions. By the way love the outdoors!

  5. Hemingway do you spend much time outdoors on USFS, BLM BIA,SLO, Private or Tribal lands? Just saying that unless you walk a mile or several miles in those areasl (as in the case of Ms Wedum for example) you might want to check things out a bit more.

    I am not saying that the USFS or other agencies are not well intentioned. But capacity to maintain healthy lands is another issue entirely.

    And, while adding to the inventory of public lands has sounded darn good…maintaining them is quite another. And, many environmental groups as well as various agencies just don’t have the capacity either but they sure do complain about any development or removal of timber for example.

    So, what is your bright idea for private sector management of these resources? Or do you think that the public sector is the only solution?

  6. Mr. Wallender – you have fallen for Congressman Pearce’s unreasonable anti-government stance hook line and sinker! The US Forest Service consists of professionals dedicated to doing a good job. In your case you would have the incompetent and naive Congressman Pearce running the Forest Service – unbelievable!

  7. Mr. Hemingway

    I see that you have swallowed hook line and sinker the smooth talk of Mr. Newman. I have been in plenty of meetings with the Forest Service, they carry the big hammer and you must give in to them in what they want to do. They can find plenty of the enviors to stack any meeting that is going to decide an issue. Real cooperation occurs when all partys are equal in standing and none subserviant. Then you have an in depth discussion of the issue, not one where the minority gets out voted by the collaborative group.

    Forest Service keeps Smokey the Bear in high regard, but the sad ending is stopping all fires has lead to poor management of the forest. They dont want to reduce the fire fighting division of the Forest Service, because of the loss of the multi-million dollar fire fighting budget. Follow the money on Forest Service decisons.

  8. Mr. Walleaner shows no knowledge of the efforts at collaborative work by the US Forest Service with local communities. Please read the attached for enlightenment.

    http://www.uwyo.edu/toolkit/public-agency-participation/resources.html

    Don’t create a political wall like in the case of Congressman Pearce to understanding the real outstanding work by the US Forest Service.

  9. Mr. Newman, you seem to be talking down to the citizens whom have gotten the ball rolling. You state that the facts are blantently distorted, what facts? You also state that the management has changed to the urban-wildland interface. Why did the controversy get out of hand if your management shift was so good for the community. The close collobration that you talk about came about only because you were pushed and shoved into it, not because you initiated anything.

  10. Corbin Newman has an interesting perspective on the management of the Lincoln Forests. Many of the people down there are well intentioned. Especially USFS, Ranchers and Private land holders who have stake…

    But, we now we live in an environment of massive federal deficits. So making the assumption that federal and state resources previously available for management of those lands is going to be available in the future is too big a jump…Too big. And the forests will be at greater risk.

    Responsible utilization of the resources in the Lincoln would provide the resources necessary to manage the greatest portion of the Lincoln lands. This may include the mining of various minerals and metals in the area…

    But as Ms. Wedum has pointed out, some individuals, often without a physical presence in the area, think they know better how to manage the forests.

    I contend that under rule of law rather than rule of man…we get better natural resource management.

    We all live on one plannet and we need the resources to promote economic development….and yes even a green agenda. Afterall, much green tech needs rare earth minerals and metals to work.

  11. I am convinced that the Forestry Service employees are committed to improving the health and safety of our national forests. But I worry that they are often hampered by unrealistic regulations and/or judicial rulings. For example, we had a bug infestation near Cloudcroft that was treated a few years ago, but a lot of trees were/are dead or dying even so, and now are stand-up matchsticks. What I heard was that the regulations (from somewhere) are if there are ANY green needles on a tree it could not be removed. The forest around Cloudcroft is still much too dense in many areas, and many of those trees look gray and lifeless (but there may be a few green needles somewhere). How can we concerned citizens help to get these trees removed?

    And, again, I remind people that the biggest problem is removing the downed trees and slash, whether they were felled by natural causes or by the US Forestry Service (or by the ‘Tree Party’).

  12. Maybe our clueless Congressman Pearce, the novice in forest management, should read this excellent commentary. Thank you, Mr. Newman.

  13. Mr. Newman,

    Thank you for your efforts to enage in dialogue with local residents and develop a comprehensive plan to address the many different interests which seek to dominate policy.

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