Dear forest friends,

Happy winter holidays!

Thank you so much for all you have done to help protect our unique and beautiful forest, and to stand for integrity of the natural world. There were some truly excellent Santa Fe Mountains Project comments submitted.

We are all wishing for more snow this winter, and the trees and forest really need it. The ongoing warming and dryness is part of what motivates the Forest Service and collaborating organizations and agencies to want to do something to protect our forest. That something is widespread thinning and prescribed burning, which has detrimental consequences to forest ecology and human health. But there are conservation options that can be considered instead, that genuinely help to protect and restore forests.

Conservation ecologist Dominick DellaSala recently wrote an incisive editorial for the Santa Fe New Mexican about the disparate perspectives on forest management. He contrasts the prevailing paradigm, which is not supporting healthy forests or even necessarily moderating fire, with a newer paradigm that works with the forest’s own processes and capabilities to restore itself.

Please share this very simple overview of the two perspectives with anyone who may be interested. It’s important that it be understood there is a much more conservation-oriented perspective on forest management.

We are on the brink of our forests being taken in a direction they may not be able to recover from in our lifetimes, and maybe not in our children’s lifetimes either. The two mega-projects proposed for the Santa Fe National Forest epitomize this trend and would greatly affect life in the Santa Fe area for both the natural world and for humans. We are being exposed to so much prescribed burn smoke that it is a serious hazard to our health. Please engage in the upcoming year, and continue to help protect our forest, our community and our health.

Support any conservation organizations that are standing for comprehensive analysis of forest projects, for much less thinning and burning of our forests, and for a holistic approach to managing our forests — starting with respect for life and utilizing a range of current forest science. And engage in grassroots action — some of the most powerful change begins simply from individuals speaking out. Let’s be strong, for the forest.

If you would like to support the mission of The Forest Advocate, which is to publish news and resources for the protection of the Santa Fe National Forest and all southwestern forests, as well as to advocate for forests, please go here. And please check The Forest Advocate regularly for forest news and updates. You can also sign up to receive 1-2 email forest updates per month.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, we have requested all the draft environmental assessment comments for the Santa Fe Mountains Project and all the objections to the Santa Fe National Forest Plan Revision. We will publish them on The Forest Advocate as soon as we receive them. Meanwhile, we have linked to the comments and objections the Forest Service has posted online — they have posted only those submitted via their web form.

May you have a peaceful and happy winter season, and may our forest receive the moisture that it needs.

Sarah Hyden
Jonathan Glass
The Forest Advocate