Interior, USDA continue to battle over grazing in Jemez

Indigenous history in the Valles Caldera goes back at least 8,000 years and obsidian quarried there for knives and projectile points is found throughout the region. The ancestors of Jemez Pueblo or Walatowa migrated into the area in the late 13th Century after Mesa Verde was laid bare. Pre-European Indigenous cultures in the Jemez Mountains and around the caldera raised turkeys, beans, squash and maize. 

That cattle have been allowed into national forests and other public ground is a crime that needs to end.
More than a year after conservation groups announced plans to take legal action regarding cattle illegally trespassing into the Valles Caldera National Preserve, those same groups say the federal agencies have not made significant changes to prevent the damage caused by the livestock. Cyndi Tuell, the Arizona and New Mexico director at Western Watersheds Project, said that after the groups filed a notice of intent to sue, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service approached them and expressed an interest in working to solve the issue. The boundary fence is between land managed by two federal agencies and, because of that, the Forest Service and the Park Service share the responsibility to maintain the fence and work together to do so. Tuell said the Forest Service or the Park Service should make the ranchers pay for the forage cattle are illegally consuming outside of the allotments, but the Forest Service says that is not within its authority. Additionally, the cattle pollute the water in part by causing more erosion, which leads to more sediment in the streams. “There’s a whole host of problems in addition to the cow pies themselves contaminating the water,” she said. [Illegal cattle grazing remains a problem in Valles Caldera National Preserve]
Cattle manure contaminated with bovine growth hormones and antibiotics introduced into critical watersheds is epidemic even on public lands.

Since old growth forests and native grasslands are not agriculture the National Forest System should be moved from the US Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Interior.

ip image.


Earth haters are driving scientists from public view

Earth haters driven by Donald Trump and his christianic followers are sending election workers, public health officials and even scientists into the shadows.
Hostility from the minority can be a challenge for people on the front lines of climate communication. Climatologists and meteorologists in seven states shared stories with Harvest Public Media of encountering strong resistance. While resistant voices can be loud, 90% of Americans are still open to learning about climate change, according to Ed Maibach with the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. "The whole notion of 'red and blue states' actually creates a disservice when it comes to thinking about how to educate the public about climate change," Maibach said. [Weather experts in Midwest say climate change reporting brings burnout and threats]


Psychoactive fungi part of environmental grounding

My first experience with LSD was in California just after high school in 1971 but my first ingested psilocybin was in Brookings after leaving Missoula in 1981 and the experience was revelatory. 

Way back at the beginning of this blog an interested party wondered whether the Earth has consciousness. Entheogen is a term derived from two words of ancient Greek that effectively translates to English as "the god within."
There’s some science to back up the woo-woo. In 2017, the Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study showing that using LSD, psilocybin and mescaline — “classic psychedelics” — led to a boost in self-reported “pro-environmental” behaviors. Psychedelics enthusiasts say a lot is different today: The climate crisis is reaching an unprecedented level of urgency, hallucinogens-as-medicine are more mainstream, and a growing body of research suggests psychedelics can change the way people think, feel and act. But there is plenty of hope to be found in the psychedelics-inspired activists already working on a small scale. Many are now themselves evangelists for the connection between psychedelics use and a greater commitment to nature. [A Psychedelics Boom Is Minting Environmentalists]
Today, Our Lady of the Arroyo is part of a study testing the efficacy of microdosing psychoactive fungi. She reports mood leveling, easing of anxiety and a more grounded approach to her place on Earth during a time when Republicans are actively destroying the planet. New Mexico is one of some 22 states easing restrictions on psychoactive substances. 

Oregon is drawing patients from all over the United States and Denver just hosted Colorado’s inaugural Psychedelic Cup.

ip image: psilocybe montana or silvatica.


Political compromise likely dooms Gunnison sage-grouse

Another endangered species with a population of fewer than 5000 individuals and threatened by the sixth mass extinction is likely doomed if the US Bureau of Land Management is unable to find a solution among the eleven land use plans under consideration.

6 February, 2024 is the tentative end date for public comments on the future of Centrocercus minimus.
Gunnison sage-grouse are a federally protected species distinct from the greater sage-grouse, and only inhabit portions of Colorado and Utah. The draft details five alternative management approaches for addressing the habitat and conservation needs of the species, in balance with the many other resources and activities the BLM manages for, including recreation, livestock grazing, lands and realty, wildland and prescribed fire, and energy and minerals. [BLM seeks public input for plan supporting Gunnison sage-grouse recovery]
Some 58% of grazing permits on federal land in critical habitat go without review; but it's not just cattle threatening the leks where the bird mates. In Nevada free-roaming horses even chase away bull elk when water supplies are scarce. 

On the Western Slope development and habitat fragmentation are behind decreasing sage-grouse numbers.
As part of efforts to conserve the bird, the BLM recently released an updated draft Resource Management Plan amendment and environmental impact statement to incorporate habitat protections and management decisions as identified in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 Final Recovery Plan. That plan defined occupied habitat (where Gunnison sage-grouse breeding occurs, or is known to have occurred), and unoccupied habitat (areas formerly occupied by the species that still have appropriate habitat features to support the bird). Specifically, conservation measures would include a 1-mile buffer around habitat that could extend to connectivity areas as appropriate, based on science and expert input. [‘Dead birds walking’: BLM sage-grouse plan draws skepticism, concerns]
Putting the country on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of its land and 30 percent of its ocean areas by 2030 (30x30) is imperative to preserving public lands. But if states are scrambling to preserve habitat for bison, wapiti, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, deer, Gunnison sage-grouse and all the other wildlife at risk to the Republican Party how are pastures for feral horses and burros on public land either conservative or sustainable?