I guess I have to say I was a little suspicious that the SUWA ad brought up the Trump Administration. As many of you know, the wheels of Federal project planning move very.. very… slowly. So, for there to be a difference between Trump and Obama administration policies, the rules in the Plan about where and what you can do would have had to have been changed. And you don’t have to follow this stuff very closely to know that that takes a while (writing one, public comment periods, litigation and so on). Well, as it turns out, this kind of project was OK under the Monument management plan (approved 2000). You can look it up yourself here.
RM-2 The use of machinery (e.g., roller chopping, chaining, plowing, discing) may be allowed in all zones except the Primitive Zone. Chaining has been used in the past to remove pinyon and juniper prior to reseeding with perennial grasses. Due to the potential for irreversible impacts to other Monument resources, such as archaeological sites and artifacts, and paleontological resources, this treatment method will not be used to remove pinyon and juniper. It may be allowed to cover rehabilitation seed mixes with soil after wildfires only where:
• noxious weeds and invasive non-native species are presenting a significant threat to Monument resources or watershed damage could occur if the burned area is
• it can be demonstrated that Monument resources will not be detrimentally affected (i.e., completion of full archaeological, paleontological, threatened and
endangered species and other resource clearance and consultation),
• it is determined that seed cover is necessary for the growth of the native species proposed for seeding, and • other less surface disturbing measures of covering seed are not available or cannot be applied in a timely manner.
Visual impacts of chaining will also be minimized near routes and other points of concern by covering the native seed mix with harrows or light chains. The GSENM
Advisory Committee will be consulted before the use of machinery for treatments is permitted.
I used the bold about the pinyon and juniper because that’s what it showed in the SUWA commercial. So SUWA says the Trump Administration is doing a bad thing that is different from what used to happen, but it’s really not. Now I don’t know if that is a “lie,” or an “inaccuracy” or a “shading of the truth.” The point seems to be to get people worked up about something that’s been going on for a long time, but was presumably OK under the previous administration. I’m going to call this Trumpfoolery. It’s worth asking, what’s in for SUWA to do this? Don’t they lose more in credibility than they gain in…whatever?
The people of Utah were using these vegetation practices long before President Trump entered politics, and they are incorporated into a Clinton Administration Monument plan. More on the practices in the next post.