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Southwest Jemez Mountains Landscape Restoration Project covers 170 square miles
Additional Contact: Chris Napp, Santa Fe National Forest (505) 438–5448
Santa Fe, New Mexico – The Santa Fe National Forest this week released the environmental impact statement for a 10-year forest restoration project in the Jemez Mountains. Southwest Jemez Mountains Restoration is a long-term collaborative effort to restore forests and watersheds on approximately 210,000 acres in the southwest Jemez Mountains. The area comprises primarily the entire upper Jemez River watershed, including the nearly 86,000 acre Valles Caldera National Preserve, a portion of the Santa Fe National Forest (110,000 acres), and some state, private and tribal lands.
“The proposal is a mixed bag,” said Bryan Bird a forest ecologist with WildEarth Guardians. “There are some really good actions like stream restoration, prescribed burning, beaver reestablishment and removing old roads but far too much emphasis on logging and thinning. There is little guarantee that logging and thinning is effective against the kinds of fires we’ve seen in the last decade or two.”
The proposed action contemplates 12 amendments to the existing forest plan. After WildEarth Guardians raised concerns, the Santa Fe National Forest added two action alternatives. One with no forest plan amendments waiving protection of the Mexican spotted owl and another with no construction of temporary roads. WildEarth Guardians requested these alternatives to ensure the forest is considering actions that will not harm water supplies and sensitive wildlife.
“The Jemez River watershed is a critical source of water for recreation, wildlife and downstream farmers and communities,” Said Bird. “Like open-heart surgery, this cherished place needs a sensitive and tactical touch, not an conventional timber sale. Ecosystem restoration and fuel management objectives can be met without throwing out protections for spotted owl and other sensitive wildlife.”
The Santa Fe’s proposed action would log and thin trees on nearly 50 square miles of the forest and 120 square miles of prescribed fire. The proposed action also calls for decommissioning 100 miles of unnecessary roads in the planning area.
Comment Period Ends: 04/15/2014
Documents are available on the web at: http://go.usa.gov/BUVh