Debate Over Forest Resilience Project Near Santa Fe: Why?

 I’m curious as to why specifically this appears to be an issue in this area of NM and not so much elsewhere.  We’ve discussed this project a bit before, but I think the dueling op-eds are a good place to start. Note: I’m trying to piece this together and some of those involved are readers of TSW, so I’m hoping that you all will correct me if I got something wrong. A special shout-out to the Santa Fe New Mexican for allowing us to see them all without a subscription (I did register).

Perhaps it started with a public listening session about local forest management issues sponsored by Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen, Wildearth Guardians and the Forest Advocate.  Sarah Hyden of WEG wrote an op-ed on Nov. 19th “Groups stand up to speak for forest.

As far as I can tell from the op-ed, DellaSala described:

Collateral damages that have been caused in the Santa Fe National Forest by past thinning and too-frequent prescribed burning treatments, and the potential damage the proposed project may cause. He made a series of recommendations to improve the effects of the project on our forest and suggested the Forest Service should seriously consider the public health impacts of prescribed burn smoke.

I thought this was pretty interesting since concerns about PB smoke would be much broader than just New Mexico.  And I think they do “seriously consider” it.  But what exactly does that mean?

WildEarth Guardians’ Adam Rissien gave a short presentation focused on the lack of specificity and detail of the project proposal, and the need for a range of alternatives to be considered that truly restore forest processes. He recommended creating wetter and cooler areas, restoring compacted and dried-out soils, and reducing unneeded forest roads. I spoke for The Forest Advocate about the need to consider the potential for escaped prescribed burns, and that parameters for prescribed burns specific to the Santa Fe Mountains landscape should be considered within the project analysis.

Mr. Rissien is from Missoula apparently. I’d be interested in his recommendations if anyone has them available.

Which led to an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican by Craig Allen, Matthew Hurteau and Tom Swetnam, all forest scientists who work in the SW. Their Dec. 3 op-ed was called Southwestern Forests Need Active Management.

A couple of things are interesting about that to me..  first, why pick DellaSala to talk about Northern New Mexico? Possibly because he’s a scientist.  And not to wax epistemological here, but what scientific research is “truer”, that done by people working in a specific geographic area, or scientists from elsewhere? And what specifically would be DellaSala’s claim to know more about Northern New Mexico?

Much of DellaSala’s narrative was shockingly ignorant of local forest conditions, histories and trends. From a scientific perspective, much of DellaSala’s presentation was inaccurate, unbalanced, incomplete or inconsistent, exhibiting classic examples of wildfire misinformation (e.g., described here:

So the NM scientists did their own webinar.

We also know that restoring the right kinds of fire and forest densities, based on a scientific understanding of the local ecology, can help our forests adaptively persist in the face of ongoing climate change. If interested in continuing the conversation, we will participate in an interactive public webinar at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 to share and discuss the best available forest and fire science for our Santa Fe mountains landscape, livestreamed through the Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition Facebook page.

Then another op-ed by Dominick Dellasala “Forest Service must hear concerns” on December 11.

To represent legitimate public concerns is not misinformation; it’s truth telling, however inconvenient for some. Respectful communications are essential in avoiding my-way-or-the-highway attitudes — and for listening to an otherwise disenfranchised community that is anything but powerless.

So Dellasala has switched a bit to “representing legitimate public concerns” and people who don’t want thinning projects are “disenfranchised.” I thought that this was a little funny,,

The larger issue at stake is whether the U.S. Forest Service can listen to requests for a full environmental analysis of the impactful Santa Fe Mountains Landscape Resiliency Project and whether independent scientists without a stake in government funding are on equal footing. Strong-arming scientists and concerned citizens who speak truth to power never works.

He makes the common claim that people who disagree with him depend on government funding (same as the Sierra scientists).. I don’t know if that is respectful of them.  I don’t see the NM scientists “strong-arming” nor the Santa Fe NF.  And ah… speaking “truth to power”.. I would have to say that in terms of influencing forest policy DellaSala and WEG have much more power than the folks on the Santa Fe and their local collaborative groups.

But here’s my favorite statement from the op-ed:

Scientists often disagree over how we view the natural world. I see forests as a kind of super-organism, an interconnected marriage of form, function and process uniquely adapted to fit the environment and sometimes in need of legitimate restorative actions.

That’s actually a philosophical stance.  Which is fine (I don’t happen to agree, but we all get to have our own philosophical/spiritual beliefs).  But I think that having different philosophies about the natural world is different than claiming the authority of science for specific  philosophical views. And maybe that should be the centerpoint of the discussion.

The latest op-ed as of today is by Robert Kirmse.  It’s called “Forests in Danger; time to act is now.”

Moreover, DellaSala goes on to parrot more of the organizers’ twisted logic: that 98 percent of those who spoke at that one-sided event favored conducting an environment impact statement. Well, of course, they were; the meeting was organized and mainly attended by and promoted by well-meaning, but misguided, collaborators of those local nongovernmental organizations.

I don’t know about New Mexico, but the feeling I get is that these people want specific changes, but ask for more analysis, alternatives, etc.  I don’t actually believe, as in the Montana lodge expansion case, that more analysis will solve the problem of people disagreeing.  Certainly it will delay and provide more legal hooks for litigation, but the end result could be the same.  Especially if you really believe that the NM scientists and the local Forest Service people are “strong-arming concerned citizens” and are ignoring “the truth”.. there would just be more citations of papers some people disagree with and more pages for the real public not to read. I hear much frustration among everyone here, but shouldn’t the conversation be specifically about what changes some would like to see?  What are they afraid of the FS doing “wrong”? Maybe that’s there somewhere outside of the op-eds.

Also, in the areas I’ve worked there are local folks and groups with a variety of concerns about projects.  Perhaps we can ask them what their views are on all this; and specifically what changes they would like to make to the project.

48 thoughts on “Debate Over Forest Resilience Project Near Santa Fe: Why?”

  1. Sharon, with regard for this “request” here in Northern NM for an “EIS” on the Santa Fe NF Santa FE Watershed thinning project, it’s really nothing more than an attempt to stall, postpone, or stop the project. As I’ve said before, the Santa Fe area is a “hotbed” for preservationists, and some of them are misinformed and quite vocal in their endeavors. Because of the disaster on another part of the Forest that was the 341,000+ acre Hermats Peak/Calf Canyon fire (largest in NM recorded History), some people are stirred up and really quite fearful that the USDA Forest Service will make another mistake and burn down Santa Fe. The Santa Fe County Commission (Bless their Hearts) know absolutely nothing about Forest management. The Santa Fe Watershed area has been analyzed more than any EIS can ever do. Some local people just don’t want any smoke. The New Mexican ‘Letters to the Editor’ constantly contains letters wanting to ‘Save every Tree’ in the watershed. That would really be “Playing with Fire” in my opinion. The Santa Fe Watershed needs to be thinned!

    • Tom- I totally get fear of prescribed fire. But there are those who have the same fear and express it by a preference for mechanical treatments in key areas.

      We have plenty of preservation oriented folks in the Denver and Boulder metro area.. who also fear runaway prescribed burns.. but they seem not averse to fuel projects at least mechanical treatment. Same with, I would think, Lake Tahoe.

  2. Here’s a little bit of additional backstory that happened to land in my inbox just now:

    The Hermit’s Peak Fire was east of the project area; the draft DN/FONSI states:

    “I have also carefully considered the project alternatives in light of the tremendous
    consequences of the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon Fire, the result of Forest Service escaped prescribed burns which occurred east of the project area, and the Forest Service National Prescribed Fire Program Review (U.S. Forest Service 2022d).” Id. at 16.

    This document is available here:

  3. Hi Sharon,

    The County Commission held the “Listening Meeting” because the Forest Service meetings were nothing but PR and wouldn’t let the public ask questions.

    Those who get paid to burn want to burn many thousands of acres, but they have no plan to protecct against escaping burns or to protect the health of the public from their smoke. Given the history of escaped intentional burns, it is likely and even foreseeable that another wil escape. They refuse to do a Health Impact Assessment.

    Burners say it is a “choice” of environmentalists to do an environmental impact statement but it is the law. The law says if it is controversial or immpactful, the Forest Service SHALL do an EIS. If 5000 people wrote comments about it, that means it is controversial. Of course burning 48,000 acres, repeatedly, in the Santa Fe Project will cause significant impact.

    We want the Forest Service to follow the law and do the EIS. We want them to admit they will take down 92+% of the trees in the project area. This is hard to find info. We want them to save the big old trees. We want them to not burn during nesting season. We want them to not burn duriing windy days. We want them to use current research, which includes climate change considerations.

    Why are the burners not taking responsibility for the devastation they did this summer? I asked 2 FS spokespeople about the Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon fires and they both said, “We are very proud of our work.” Tell that to the people up around Mora.

    • Jan, we’ve discussed the legal requirements to do an EIS many times here on TSW. I don’t think there is a metric for # of comments meaning it’s controversial.
      How do you know that they will take down 92% of trees? Don’t the prescriptions keeping big old trees? What specific current research would you like them to use? Because some research shows that big old trees will survive better in droughts if they are thinned. What would you like the FS to do to “take responsibility”?

      • Interresting that they won’t admit what percentage they will remove.

        Published in the New Mexican as a My View: August 30, 2020

        We need transparency and an Environmental Impact Statement before the Forest Service does any more of their deforestation project. The currently proposed project for the mountains outside of Santa Fe is called the Santa Fe Mountain Landscape Resiliency Project.

        Specific information is not available about how many trees will be cut and burned in the Santa Fe Resiliency Project. Their Forest Service documents say they will thin 18,000 acres and burn, repeatedly, 38,000 acres, between Tesuque and Glorieta. The evidence shows past thinning prescriptions, work orders, and the parts of this project that have already been done require removal of over 90% of trees. Also, their officials have stated this in meetings and in the newspaper. We can only rely on the pattern since we have not been informed, specifically, how many trees will get removed in the whole SFMLRP.

        Typical Forest Service thinning prescriptions require removal of over 90 percent of trees. 
        Below are two thinning documents. I have never seen a thinning project that calls for removal of less than 90% of trees on the Eastside Santa Fe National Forest, where this project is situated. 

        La Cueva work order
        This work order is for a 133 acre section of the smaller La Cueva fuel break. It is typical of local USFS thinning prescriptions.

        On page 7 of the attached work order it states there are on average 520 trees per acre in the area they want to thin. In Table 1 on page 8, it shows that the total of trees per acre which will remain is 35-45. The percentage of trees that will remain, 40 trees per acre, is about 8% of 520 trees per acre, meaning they will take out 92% of total trees.

        Hyde Park scoping letter
        This says on average in this 1,825  project area, there are 1,200 or more trees per acre. The final tree densities would average 40-60 trees per acre. If you assume an average of 50 trees per acre, then 4% of trees will remain after thinning. That means 96% of trees would be removed. The final Hyde Park decision should be similar to this although the project decision does not quantify the amount of trees that will be removed.

        Below is the URL for a 2012 New Mexican article
        The article interviews Bill Armstrong, the Forest Service fuels and fire specialist (retired). He was stating the Forest Service policy. He states “I hope you will come to regard the ponderosa pine as the weed that it is,” …“We have more … trees than we know what to do with, and they are the cause of many of the problems we face. We’re going to do everything we can to get rid of about 95 percent of them.” His statement that they are doing everything they can to get rid of 95% of the trees in the SFNF supports their prescriptions and work orders that call for the removal of over 90% of trees.

        Below is the URL of a recent County Commission
        Forest Service Ranger Sandy Hurlocker on whether they remove 90% of trees in project areas, or not. He said “technically it’s true, by number, but that’s not how we look at it”. Then he said, that’s not their intention across the landscape, but did not deny they have done it up to this point.
        It’s the first couple minutes.

        • Oh I see, that’s a great point. I see where understanding is different and it’s a bit of a language problem. Since the project is “thinning from below” then they are reducing the total number of trees or stems per acre. Some of these are probably suppressed saplings in the understory. Certainly biologically, they are all trees. So of course you can say that and it’s true. At the same time, based on the way you calculate it, if there were 2500 trees per acre, I would think it MORE important to reduce it to a number the site could support through possibly oncoming droughts (due to climate change). So I’d think getting rid of more stems (biologically trees, but in the understory, so likely to be suppressed and also ladder fuels) would be a good thing for the trees that are left and make them more resilient to drought and fires. But you see that as cutting maybe 97% of “trees”. On the other hand, if it is thinning from below, none of them are in the overstory. So some people, when they hear that about trees, are thinking relatively large trees in the overstory, not a 3 inch suppressed sapling. Maybe some photos of before and after would be helpful to this discussion.

        • “Specific information is not available about how many trees will be cut and burned in the Santa Fe Resiliency Project.” I am reading this to say that the figures that allowed you to calculate the percentages in the other projects are not being provided for this one? If so, I would suggest that they do not yet have a “proposal”, where “effects can be meaningfully evaluated” (per CEQ NEPA regulations). They would have to do more NEPA when they have that information.

              • Sure, “we plan to thin x acres over y years” “we have estimated on the average we will thin x trees per acre”. Thy might have a max and min as well.

                • You made me look. Here’s the EA – Table 3.6 shows the “x acres,” but not trees per acre. The only disclosure of the “target basal area” seems to be where they dismiss the “Santa Fe Conservation Alternative.” That’s on p. 2-18, where there is a table that shows ranges of “post-thinning target basal areas” for the ERU types (the widest is 90-130 sf/acre). I’m not seeing where this range is actually addressed in the effects analysis, and since basal area seems to be a significant issue, that might be important. Also, these are not explicit limitations like other criteria in the decision, so the possibility of exceeding these “target” ranges should have been discussed.

                  I also noted that they don’t know whether they will be treating Mexican spotted owl habitat, so I hope they analyzed treating all of it.

                  • Yup. Based on the Colorado court case, it seemed, if I remember correctly, that they analyzed “what if they treated all lynx habitat”? Don’t remember how the LAVA project analyzed it, of whether they had endangered species. I thought there was maybe a CBM learning network within the FS? Perhaps we should volunteer.

                    • The Colorado (10th Circuit) case is here:


                      Here’s some key language:

                      “With this scientific knowledge in hand, the Service could reasonably assess the maximum impact that the Project could have on the lynx and conclude it was unlikely to adversely affect them. In particular, it could conclude that the Project will not violate any SRLA [Southern Rockies Lynx Amendment] standards even in a worst-case scenario in which every acre of mapped lynx habitat in the Project area is treated.”

                      The SLRA amended multiple forest plans to promote conservation of the Canada lynx, and this amendment was accompanied by an EIS (two of them, actually). The 10th Circuit did not specifically make any reference to tiering, but I suspect the court may have been more inclined to let the EA at issue pass muster given that it was heavily based on the SLRA EIS.

                      SLRA info is available here:


  4. I have many good friends in Santa Fe, my wife works part time at the Institute of American Indian Arts and we are down there a lot (we live four hours up river). Many residents were traumatized by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fires and the preservation oriented groups have effectively played off these strong emotions with misleading propaganda about both prescribed fire and mechanical treatments. The Forest has a challenging uphill battle to win back trust regardless of what is being proposed. It’s going to take a patient concerted effort that relies on more than quoting science to win back trust. Perhaps an EIS would help. In my experience, the Forest Service struggles with the long view approach of building trust in communities. Part of this has to do with the impatience of people in the RO and WO who push Forests to get the work done (who in turn feel the pressure from Congress and the President). Indeed, one of the things that came out of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fires report was there was a real or perceived pressure from above to get the acres treated. Meanwhile, the time bomb is ticking above the city. I think the Santa Fe NF needs to go slow to go fast and everyone needs to keep their fingers crossed the big one doesn’t happen that severely impacts their water source and/or burn down hundreds/thousands of homes.

    • Mmm.. I agree about winning back trust about prescribed fire.. people want to know that they are being conducted carefully and with appropriate restrictions in place.
      So that could be a reason that the San Juan, not too far away as the crow flies, has a large and successful prescribed fire program… no escapes or no escapes that got way out of control.

      I’m just not sure that an EIS is the way to win back trust. Maybe others have seen cases where that has worked?

      I suppose analyzing an alternative that is what a key group wants is one way to possibly build trust (listening) but at the end of the day, if that alternative isn’t chosen then the story may be “you never listened to us.”

      The other problem I see is if there is no pressure to meet fuels targets, it’s unlikely that people will take the risk of PB. So there’s got to be some, but not “too much.”

      And if some people want treatments around the community and others don’t, who really speaks for “the people”?

      • Sharon, the more I think about it, the more I think the SFNF should just push on with the EA and hopefully win any court battles that may ensue. But, I can’t help think that a judge may also say the Forest has to do an EIS causing more delay. Pushing on and getting work done on the ground – without incident – and doing quality communication to show off successes may be the quickest way to get much needed work done on the ground. It’s an uphill battle though, as I’ve read some of the propaganda being distributed to residents and it is emotionally effective even though it quotes “science” from the Sierras. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Santa Fe area and the surrounding forests and in my opinion they are an ignition away from very large impacts to their watershed and their homes.

        • In past projects they have removed trees up to 24” dbh which are some of the biggest trees in our area. They have definitely cut the overstory trees. They call it thin from below, but when the forest is thinned so aggressively, thinning from below includes the overstory. In past thinning projects, the forest is so open that it no longer resembles forest. It’s just open devatated area with some grasses, some invasive weeds, and a scattering of trees. The shrub understory gets demolished.

            • Even with a cap on bigger older trees, I have found many stumps the FS “thinned” so large that the dbh had to be much much larger than 24″ dbh. It is very apparent the FS doesn’t want to save the big old trees een though they are “fire resistant.” Why? And why are they so rude to us when we request they save the big old trees? They cynically say, “They will die anyway because of climate change.” That is hypothetical, a self-serving fantasy. Destroy the life giving forest based on their “paid to burn” plans, based on their hypothetical fantasy?

              And why does the FS not really respond to our specific requests, concerns, questions, etc.? They gloss over it all and say they are going to do what they want because they can. They ignore every plea to not burn during wind. When we complain because they burned our house, neighborhood, or valley, they call us misinformed. Really?

          • Jan, I think you are providing perfect examples of why there is a trust issue with the SFNF. Any thoughts of what the Forest could due to build trust going forward with the residents?

            • Do an EIS because most Santa Feans don’t know about this project. It seems clear that the FS wants to do the project fast, before people find out about it.

              Utilize a full range of the best available science and consider conservation alternatives in project planning and analysis. Scale it down – this deforestation is massive and obscene.

              Genuinely consider the health impacts of prescribed burn smoke.

              Acknowledge climate change, make plans to protect our forest and all of Santa Fe because of climate change, and realize how burning is much more dangerous now.

              Don’t potentially burn down more communities by increasing prescribed burns when there is a decreasing number of safe weather windows to burn in.

              Do not burn during nesting season. Do not burn during high winds. Do not cut or burn the big old trees.

              Listen to AND BE RESPECTFUL to the public who are stakeholders in the forest. Don’t tell us that because we don’t have forestry credentials, we have no right to speak.

              • Excellent suggestions Jan, I especially like the last one. I’m retired from the Rio Grande NF and made the same comment many times in interdisciplinary meetings.

        • Here’s a project that hasn’t, as far as I know, been the subject of protests. Sharon, maybe you’ve heard about the project.

          $1 million fire mitigation project planned near Colorado Springs Utilities’ reservoir

          Anyhow, it’s a Good Neighbor project partially on USFS lands. As such, is an EA or other doc required? I haven’t found one.

          • If it’s on NFS lands, it would require a federal action triggering NEPA, regardless of who actually does it (I’m pretty sure there’s no exception for Good Neighbor projects).

          • this is in my recreation, hood and so far as I can tell it’s this FS project:
            Raspberry Mtn..

            “The project will remove about half the trees in an area where western spruce budworm and Douglas-fir beetle have damaged the forest, Cherney said. The work will increase the space between trees and allow each tree more access to water and nutrients to improve their health, putting them in a better position to fend off pests, he said. ”

            “Timber removal activities would be limited in scope to keep temporary road construction to a minimum due to a majority of the project being within a designated Roadless Area.” and it was done with a DM and some CEs.

            “In addition, a virtual public meeting was held on March 16, 2022, to provide an overview of the proposed activities in and discuss the issues raised by the public and potential alternatives to meeting the project
            needs. The meeting was hosted by the US Forest Service and attended by partners from Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and members of the public.
            Comments included support for the project, concerns of potential use or expansion of non-system roads or trails by the public after project activities are complete, potential impacts to wildlife species (especially
            big game) and water resources, and potential effects to the roadless characteristics, including the appropriateness of the use of a categorical exclusion. Each of these comments were considered in the analysis and/or by the responsible official. Appropriate design criteria and best management practices will be applied to prevent effects to wildlife, water, and other resources such as the spread of invasive species. The proposed activities and potential effects to roadless characteristics were found to be
            consistent with exceptions provided in the Colorado Roadless Rule and do not present an extraordinary circumstance. As in other areas on the Pikes Peak Ranger District, barriers will be installed using a variety of means to discourage or prevent public motorized access into recently treated areas, thus reducing the ongoing impact from unauthorized use.”

        • Here’s the thing, though. If people are really worried about prescribed fire, then an EIS isn’t going to help… the 90 day standdown and report helped? Or that is where I would want attention focused.. not comparing on paper wildfire smoke to PB smoke.

  5. New Mexico has been home to much larger aspen communities in the fairly recent past. Because it reproduces clonally underground from adult trees aspen (Populus tremuloides) is one of the first plants to reestablish after fire.

    Ponderosa pine sucks billions of gallons from aquifer recharges, needles absorb heat and accelerate snow melt while aspen leaves reflect sunlight in the summer months.

    Those of us who actually live in Santa Fe County are seeing the aspen bowl above town holding snow and the pine accelerating the sublimation of critical water supplies.

    Pick a lane, people.

    • Maybe NM is different but here in CO aspen only grows where it grows. It’s not like ppine sites are necessarily where aspen can grow. Not sure what point you’re making..

      • After a stand replacing fire the mycelial network tells which trees to grow where and the southeastern slope of the Sangre de Cristos was neglected and overgrown. Next spring will be different as all the runoff will help charge depleted aquifers and empty reservoirs and the Santa Fe Fireshed is watching closely.

  6. It seems silly, to me, that people want to manage those forests to ‘be wetter’. Yes, we can dry out soils, with overstocked forests. That being said, there is also a non-zero chance that prescribed burns can severely damage forests by burning too hot (without escaping). And there are always those other people out there who want ‘Whatever Happens’, as long as humans leave it all alone.

  7. Did I miss somewhere the reason why the Forest doesn’t want to do an EIS? Sure they can argue about whether effects are significant, but why? (Especially when they know someone is going to argue back.)

    I won’t argue that “more analysis will solve the problem of people disagreeing,” but it would clarify what they are disagreeing about; if any facts are in dispute, it should resolve that.

    “shouldn’t the conversation be specifically about what changes some would like to see?” Yes, and that’s what the range of alternatives and analysis of effects for an EIS should do. Maybe the EA did this, but I don’t get the feeling that the public wants “no action,” and why would the FS not fully consider the “different action” sought and its effects?

    Just do an EIS. (And there’s actually FEWER legal hooks than for an EA.)

    • Jon, I don’t agree that there are fewer legal hooks. Other than “you should have done an EA” which is one legal hook, the more alternatives, the more verbiage there is and the more verbiage there is, the more opportunities for eagle-eyed plaintiffs and their staffs to find something wrong. Or perhaps successfully argue to a judge that an intermediate between the analyzed alternatives was not analyzed. Been there done that..
      I see two things here.. some people don’t like that this is CBM. If they were to do an EIS, then folks could argue that CBM isn’t appropriate.

      BUT if they do an EIS with specific sites (not BBM), then when a fire comes along in the next however many years, the analysis will be out of date… and they will need to do an SEIS. I think we’re putting our employees in a difficult situation- since some of the public wants to see it done. It’s not just the FS that wants the project.. note there is a CWPP and Tribes support it.

      • Maybe I should have said “less dangerous” legal hooks, because the “should have done an EIS” hook is the one that takes down the most decisions (IME). But aren’t you suggesting doing an EA so that things the public should have known about won’t get disclosed? And there shouldn’t be any difference between the two with regard to new information about environmental effects – that should trigger additional analysis in either case, and an EIS if the new information is significant.

        • What do you mean “that things the public should have known about won’t get disclosed?” That’s true changes would require more analysis either way, but an new EA could do just as good a job as an SEIS with… less unnecessary work. I think that’s where you and I would disagree about “as good a job” and “unnecessary” work.

          • That’s how I heard, “the more alternatives, the more verbiage there is and the more verbiage there is, the more opportunities for eagle-eyed plaintiffs and their staffs to find something wrong.” That possibility of “something wrong” is the whole point of NEPA disclosure.

            Courts do have the “fly-speck” rule for resolving what would be “unnecessary work.”

            From above …

            “Or that is where I would want attention focused.. not comparing on paper wildfire smoke to PB smoke.” But those who are concerned about effects of smoke should be entitled to a comparison of the effects of these alternatives.

    • I watched both presentations, read all the op-eds, and scanned through the public comments on the project website at USFS. There are differing sides to the scientific argument and each side has their own experts. There are alternatives proposed by the public and conservation orgs. The USFS decided that an EA was sufficient and then issued a FONSI. The public comments overwhelmingly requested an EIS – only a minority were saying DO NOT DO ANYTHING. The Santa Fe County Commission and conservation orgs were asking for an EIS and consideration of other alternatives. It does seem that the USFS is simply unwilling to undertake an EIS and so they are inviting opposition to the whole project.

  8. I find it odd that no one is challenging the Department of Interior’s burn projects, which often allows lighting prescribed burns during hot summer days. One Yosemite example included burning on a late August day, with near 100 degree temperatures expected. The result was a 17,000 acre fire, costing nearly 20 million dollars, and closing Yosemite for the Labor Day weekend and beyond. Within an hour of ignition, the fire had escaped with no chance to stop it.

  9. Glorieta Camps, The Nature Conservancy’s Rio Grande Water Fund and the Forest Stewards
    Guild plan to take advantage of favorable conditions, including moisture levels, air quality, wind direction, and weather forecasts, and initiate prescribed burning at Glorieta Camps as early as January 3rd, 2022. Glorieta Camps is west of the village of Pecos. The burning will occur throughout the winter as conditions allow. This burn will be implemented by the All Hands All Lands Burn Team’s Pile Squad, a program of the Forest Stewards Guild, which is a fully qualified team designed to implement pile burns. This prescribed burn is happening in the context of the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition landscape. The Fireshed Coalition supports a HEPA Filter Loan Program so that smoke sensitive individuals can borrow a filter for the duration of the impacts.


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