editorials

Stand for the forest  Sarah Hyden, The Santa Fe New Mexican, May 9, 2021
It’s time for a forest revolution. Sarah Hyden explains the urgency of taking action to protect our forest from widespread and aggressive fuel treatment projects that proceed without comprehensive analysis.

Burning during pandemic isn’t worth the risk   Ann McCampbell, The Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec 5,2020
The Forest Service needs to return to its commitment of last spring to protect public health by maintaining its moratorium on planned burning during the pandemic. 

Forests As Carbon Preserves   George Wuerthner, The Wildlife News, Oct 20, 2020
In the face of climate change society must accelerate the storage of atmospheric carbon if we hope to slow and eventually reverse the worse effects of the climate crisis. One of most effective and inexpensive ways to store carbon is by preserving trees in our forests (Law et al. 2018).

A Talent evacuee asks officials to be responsible   Dominick DellaSala, Mail Tribune, Sep 13, 2020
A conservation scientist reflects on the destruction by fire of his town of Talent, Oregon. “We have been falsely promised that if only forest managers can thin, smoke levels would drop and wildfires would be less intense,” DellaSala writes.

The great forest reset   Sarah Hyden, The Forest Advocate, Aug 30, 2020
It seems like something out of an end-times science fiction movie. A smoky pall from fires hangs over everything, people are wearing masks to keep safe from an aggressive virus, and civil discord is steadily increasing.  A version of this piece appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

A sleeping giant in the forest   Jonathan Glass, Santa Fe New Mexican, Aug 15, 2020
The plan is to cut and/or burn forest in the Jemez over a majority of a 200-square-mile project area starting 15 miles from Los Alamos. That is more than 2-1/2 times the project area of the Forest Service’s proposed Santa Fe Mountains Project, which is itself the largest cutting/burning project ever proposed for the Santa Fe National Forest in the Sangre de Cristos.

Let the Santa Fe National Forest Heal   Sarah Hyden, The Smokey Wire, July 20, 2020
It’s time to embrace a new paradigm for the forest. Instead of imposing the framework of our limited ecological understanding and perspective onto the forest, let’s be allies of the forest, to help support its inevitable transformation.  A version of this piece appeared in the Albuquerque Journal.

Sorry Secretary Sonny, Our National Forests Are Not Crops   Adam Rissien, The Smokey Wire, Jul 3, 2020
Forests are not simply sources of lumber, but living ecosystems that have inherent value and deserve our moral consideration.

All flourishing is mutual   Maj-Britt Eagle, The Forest Advocate, June 11, 2020
A forest resident describes the interconnectedness of the trees in our forests, and how the results of thinning projects show that our relationship with the land is broken. The forest demonstrates that we must live with reciprocity, and be responsible to nature.

Keep carbon in the forest   George Wuerthner, Montana Standard, June 5, 2020
Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, often said: “Conservation is the foresighted utilization, preservation and/or renewal of forests, waters, lands and minerals for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time.” It has become the agency’s motto.
Yet in the age of climate change, the Forest Service has failed to re-evaluate what exactly constitutes the greatest good for society.

Forest Service is ignoring public comments   Sarah Hyden, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 31, 2020
The public has spoken in a landslide of support for protecting and conserving our forest. But the U.S. Forest Service isn’t letting you know about it.

Bedrock environmental law under assault   Santa Fe New Mexican editorial board, Mar 8, 2020
The landmark National Environmental Policy Act — signed into law in 1970 by none other than Republican President Richard Nixon — is facing wholesale revision, with time running out to comment on proposed changes to the regulations governing how the law is applied.

Lack of transparency about Santa Fe deforestation   Jan Boyer, Santa Fe New Mexican, Mar 7, 2020
Are you aware that the U.S. Forest Service and its collaborators and contractors may soon be doing extreme thinning and/or burning of trees across over 250 square miles of forest around Santa Fe?

Forest management: The words matter   Sarah Hyden, Albuquerque Journal, Feb 16, 2020
The words we use define how we think about things. In forest management, words are oftentimes used to mean something very different than what they have meant in the past.

The time is now to preserve our forests   Sam Hitt, Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec 15, 2019
The roar of chain saws was noticeably absent this fall in the forests near town. We can thank the Mexican spotted owl, a courageous federal judge who exposed Forest Service misdeeds and decades of advocacy by WildEarth Guardians, successor to the scrappy advocacy group I founded 30 years ago.

Wrong direction for forest burning policy   Jonathan Glass, Santa Fe New Mexican, Nov 24, 2019
New Mexico’s new “shared stewardship” agreement with the U.S. Forest Service seeks to “elevate and formalize” state and federal collaboration on forest policy (“State, Forest Service team up on stewardship,” Nov. 15). This is concerning because current state and federal policies each strongly support the highly questionable practice of deliberate, extensive forest burning.

Forest management requires accountability   Sarah Hyden, Santa Fe New Mexican, Nov 2, 2019
U.S. Forest Service, be accountable — to our forest and to us. The recent court order resulting from a lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians, placing an injunction on timber management activities due to the Forest Service’s insufficient monitoring of Mexican spotted owl populations for 23 years, was about accountability (“Judge saves Christmas tree, but larger issues remain,” Oct. 28). The Mexican spotted owl population in our Southwestern forests has been in decline for decades, and the Forest Service has not obtained the required population trend data.

Logging injunction for spotted owl won’t steal national Christmas tree   John Horning, Santa Fe New Mexican, Oct 19, 2019
The national Christmas tree this year will come from my home state of New Mexico. It might be the only Christmas tree that comes from a national forest in New Mexico — and if that happens, people are going to blame me. That’s because my organization, WildEarth Guardians, won a court ruling halting all timber management on 12 million acres of national forests in the Southwest (“Mexican spotted owl long at center of forest fight,” Oct. 13).

Here’s to a new way to manage forests   Dominick DellaSala, Santa Fe New Mexican, Oct 5, 2019
Santa Fe is blessed with magnificent national forests, wild rivers and some of the cleanest airsheds in the nation. Many people are here to be part of, connect with and heal through nature. It’s only natural that there is public outcry when forests are cut down or burned.

Prescribed burns creating a smoky Santa Fe   Sarah Hyden, Albuquerque Journal, Sep 15, 2019
Santa Fe has some of the cleanest air in the country – well, until recent years. Now, there are days we can barely see the Jemez Mountains through the murky haze. Much of the pall often hanging over the Santa Fe area is smoke from prescribed burns, which has greatly increased this year and is likely to continue to increase due to the 50,566-acre tree-cutting and prescribed fire project the U.S. Forest Service has proposed for our local forest.

Where wildlands meet urban areas, reduce fire risk   Santa Fe New Mexican editorial board, Sep 3, 2019
Currently, the Santa Fe National Forest is updating its management plan. The Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition is continuing its work in thinning trees around the municipal water supply. As is always the case when it comes to handling resources, there is disagreement on both the management plan and current thinning projects.

Action needed if you think our public lands our ours   Jonathan Glass, Albuquerque Journal, Aug 25, 2019
It’s time to tune in if you haven’t heard about our government’s cynical proposal to largely discontinue congressionally mandated public input and transparency for most projects across our 190-million-plus-acre national forest system. The Forest Service and its client industries are counting on our inattention.

Resiliency project risky to communities   Dominick DellaSala, Santa Fe New Mexican, July 15, 2019
Santa Fe is enveloped by majestic forests where no road or chain saw has gone before. Roadless areas and those with few roads are wellsprings of the region’s quality of life, anchoring soils, providing clean air and drinking water for downstream users, and solitude for wildlife and people alike. The region’s thriving tourism economy is rooted in its untrammeled landscapes.

Cut and burn our forest? Please comment   Jonathan Glass, Santa Fe New Mexican, Jul 6, 2019
We would have a more fire-safe forest, the U.S. Forest Service suggests in its recent proposed action for our local Sangre de Cristo Mountains, if we cut down most trees and shrubs across up to 33 square miles and set prescribed fires across up to 67 square miles, including all of the area first cut.

The timber beast is back from the ashes   Sam Hitt, Santa Fe New Mexican, Jun 22, 2019
Time to wake up if you like a refreshing walk in the woods and perhaps enjoy an overnight adventure in the backcountry. Behind the scenes, the timber beast is rising from the ashes. The piles of twigs and branches visible just beyond your hiking trail will soon be burned. Denuded areas with a few lonely trees are expanding rapidly. A rebranded timber industry is flexing its subsidized muscles.

The Santa Fe Conservation Alternative, for a truly resilient forest   Sarah Hyden, Santa Fe New Mexican, Jun 15, 2019
This is a critical time for our forest. The U.S. Forest Service has just released the proposed plan for the 50,000-acre Santa Fe Mountains Landscape Resiliency Project, focused on our nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The 30-day public comment period has begun. This plan involves intensive tree cutting and prescribed burning, intended to moderate fire behavior and restore forest health.

Fire in our forest requires analysis, not fear   Sarah Hyden, Albuquerque Journal, Apr 28, 2019
How many people have died in wildland fires in New Mexico in the past two decades? Seven – and six of them were from vehicular accidents related to our brave firefighters responding to fires. Four hundred people die per year on average on New Mexico roads, yet most of us drive almost daily without fear. So why such fear of wildfire?

Protecting our forests, our homes and ourselves   Sarah Hyden, AP,  Feb 24, 2019
In recent years, I have tried to help protect the Santa Fe National Forest from intensive tree thinning projects. Then, when new growth starts to come back, it’s usually burned off in prescribed burns. Now the U.S. Forest Service is planning to do these types of thinning treatments over 50,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest from Glorieta to north of Tesuque, a large-scale project called the Santa Fe Mountains Landscape Resiliency Project. The stated purpose is to moderate fire behavior and improve forest health.

Increased logging won’t prevent forest fires   Chad Hanson, Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan 5, 2019
With last year’s shocking loss of thousands of homes and dozens of lives in the Camp and Woolsey fires in California, people are looking for answers as they try to understand how a tragedy such as this can be prevented in the future.

SF forest thinning policy needs clarification   Sarah Hyden, Albuquerque Journal, Nov 30, 2018
Forest Supervisor James Melonas’s recent op-ed, “Lessons from a fire you likely don’t know about,” claims that a nearby forest thinning treatment caused the Venado Fire to drop down from a high intensity fire to a manageable fire, and that this indicates that forest fuel treatments are a real positive for the Santa Fe National Forest.

Let’s take back our forest   Sarah Hyden, Albuquerque Journal, Nov 23, 2018
Who does the Santa Fe National Forest belong to? To all of us! It’s our forest.
Yet, the U.S. Forest Service often acts as if we have no right to be genuinely involved in what happens to our forest, as if it’s their forest.

Fire in our Southwestern forests   Sarah Hyden, AP, Oct 14, 2018
Regeneration. Our Southwestern forests are abundantly alive and innately know how to heal and to come back after natural impacts such as fire. A healthy forest is constantly undergoing a myriad of natural processes and transformations. Although fire, especially high-intensity fire, looks like destruction, it supports the life and biodiversity of the forest. Our magnificent aspen stands are the result of high-intensity fire.

The irreplaceable tree   Sarah Hyden, AP, May 13, 2018
It’s time for all of us to start thinking about what a tree really is, because the U.S. Forest Service is planning on cutting out the majority of trees from much of the local Santa Fe National Forest from north of Tesuque through Glorieta (“Protecting what makes Santa Fe special,” My View, March 25).

Be for the forest   Sarah Hyden, Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan 13, 2018
On Nov. 5, George Wuerthner, author of 38 books on forest ecology and natural history, gave a talk about wildfire and forest health, sponsored by the Santa Fe Forest Coalition. I want to thank George and every one of the many people involved with the event, including all the people who cared enough about the Santa Fe National Forest to come out on a Sunday afternoon to hear this important talk.

Recognizing the growing threat of wildfire   George Wuerthner, Santa Fe New Mexican, Oct 27, 2017
The recent fires in California offer lessons that every Westerner should pay attention to.   First, forest reduction projects will not preclude large wildfires or save communities when there is low humidity, high temperatures, drought and high winds. Just as tropical rainforests thrive on rain that we can’t stop, Western ecosystems thrive on wildfire, and it is climate and weather that drives large wildfires, not “fuels.” We cannot log our way out of growing wildfire-induced home losses.

Fewer Trees do not Equal Fewer Fires   George Wuerthner, Idaho State Journal, July 1, 2017
High intensity fires burn primarily during severe fire weather, and under such conditions the fire can usually not be stopped until the weather changes. Fuel treatments are generally not effective under these conditions.

Help save our forest   Sarah Hyden, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 6, 2017
On a recent, warm January morning, I was in my house on beautiful land near the Santa Fe National Forest and heard the roar of chainsaws starting. I immediately felt dread, because I have seen some extreme tree-thinning jobs taking place in forest/urban interface areas.

The Forest Advocate
Santa Fe, New Mexico