Timber salvage unlikely any time soon in fragile New Mexico forests

Native bison, elk and deer have been hunted to near extinction in most of the Southwest or killed in collisions with motor vehicles so the US Forest Service has been scrambling to clear fuels Indigenous used to burn off every year. Pre-European Indigenous cultures in the Jemez Mountains raised turkeys, beans, squash and maize. That cattle have been allowed into national forests and other public ground for pennies a head is a crime that needs to end. 

Before the European invasion Puebloans in northern New Mexico hunted bison on the high plains along the east slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and today Picuris is one of 76 tribal entities represented on the Rapid City, South Dakota-based Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITBC). The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire threatened the Picuris Pueblo. 

The feds are shooting feral goats in the Tetons and feral cattle on the Gila because domestic livestock are so destructive on public lands. But it takes political courage to just say no to domestic livestock on federal land and pass legislation that pays reparations and some through land repatriation and bravery is a trait conspicuously absent in Congress right now.

Land managers have climate change guns to their heads so it’s usually damned if you do and damned if you don’t conduct prescriptive burns. But it’s probably a straight line from the previous administration’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and crashes in morale within the US Forest Service to current wildfires and conditions on the Santa Fe National Forest. Nevertheless, federal land managers have announced that the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire has been completely surrounded after the blaze consumed some 341,000 acres of ponderosa pine and understory but also reduced thousands of acres of flammable grasses.
James Youtz is a U.S. Forest Service silviculturist for the southwest region and makes plans about how to manage forests in a healthy way. Logging, if officials choose to do it, would probably happen closer to fall, he said. But the decision to do so depends on a number of factors, including environmental concerns and a diminished sawmill market in New Mexico. The forests are full of smaller trees, though, he said, and those aren’t historically as economically valuable for loggers. [Logging after NM wildfires could help forests but won’t likely happen for months, if at all]
I've logged a number of timber salvage operations after fires and blow downs in the Black Hills, Bighorn National Forest and in Idaho. It's dirty, dangerous and destructive.

A drought-stressed ponderosa pine fell into a power line causing the McBride Fire near Ruidoso and the subsequent flooding inundated much of that village. Dead trees release methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas.

Due to the intensity of the wildfire Las Vegas, New Mexico has just thirty days of fresh water remaining after flooding over the burn scar took out numerous dams and levees. But eyewitnesses are seeing aspen communities and other native hardwoods already reclaiming much of the forest. 

There are no mysteries here. Every incident like the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fire is a teaching moment. These are episodes where humans are humbled by climate disruptions created by our own failures.

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