Act now to improve, enforce forest management - Albuquerque Journal

Act now to improve, enforce forest management

Many of us quickly dismiss wildland fires that burn forest habitats and do little to disrupt human life, but when fires hit like California has experienced lately, our feelings are different. Over 200,000 homes had to be evacuated in southern California due to out-of-control wildfires raging in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Riverside and Los Angeles counties. This is just after northern California experienced record fires over the past two months, burning homes and vineyards throughout the Napa wine country.

It is impossible to determine at this time how many structures were lost. According to Wells Fargo Securities, insurance settlements could be $130 billion, which will result in higher premium rates. Human lives lost have been few, but the human tragedy is real. Even the loss of pets, homes and a lifetime collection of possessions is unrecoverable.

While drought and winds are major contributors to the California wildfires, local and federal restrictions on clearing brush from natural habitats have provided much of the fuel for this record loss. Unfortunately, this time, the fires destroyed residential and business areas, which will hopefully make environmental groups and authorities re-evaluate the real need to clean up fuel areas before fires do.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown has urged U.S. lawmakers to pay more attention to dealing with natural disasters such as fires, yet his own California Forest Service continues to restrict cleanup of brush and forest areas.

Germany has the best managed forests of any country and they place management of the public lands in the hands of local groups to clean and keep them healthy. While the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management manage each district independently, and have the authority to manage them properly by thinning and cleaning, they often kowtow to the demands of environmental organizations that choose to protect mouse habitat.

In New Mexico, Ruidoso was almost lost in the 2012 Little Bear Fire, which burned 44,300 acres, 230 structures and killed hundreds of livestock. The 2000 Cero Grande Fire caused over $1 billion in damage, destroyed 420 homes in Los Alamos and damaged over 100 buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Much of this damage could have been avoided or mitigated by proper forest management. What will it take for our forest managers to responsibly modify their policies that lead to the destruction of property, livestock, wildlife, scenery and human life, as well as a large portion of New Mexico’s economy and the livelihood of a good many New Mexicans?

How can we protect Cloudcroft, Taos, Pecos and other high-risk communities from having their homes turned into ashes and the beautiful landscape to moonscape? One answer is lifting restrictions on forest use and issuing more multiple-use permits.

Forest districts need to implement more effective forest management, or will we continue to fiddle while our country burns like California by allowing environmental extremists to dictate management policy to government agencies?

It is time to take action and write our representatives and encourage our forest management officials to open our forests and BLM-managed areas to enact policies of proper cleanup and thinning.

If you are an environmentalist against proper forest thinning, think of the water pollution caused by these fires. If thinning is good for the watershed areas, it is good for the entire forest and hundreds of entrepreneurial commercial jobs can be created in the process. Our local communities, forest users and forest rangers hold the answers. California has shown us what will happen if we stay the current course.

Scott Chandler is a rancher and forest user in southern New Mexico. Tom Wright is a retired disaster relief executive and lives in Santa Fe.

Home » Journal North » Journal North Opinion » Act now to improve, enforce forest management

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico names ...
ABQnews Seeker
In Smith-Leslie's new role, which began ... In Smith-Leslie's new role, which began Monday, she will oversee BCBSNM's "strategic direction and overall operations for the New Mexico Medicaid division."
SpeakUp: Lobos women's basketball, John Jones, Tucker Carlson, and ...
From the newspaper
I pick up trash all the ... I pick up trash all the time. The few grocery plastic bags I pick up, I use to put in trash. I guess ...
Editorial: APS calendar plan earns mixed grades
From the Editorial Board: More classroom ... From the Editorial Board: More classroom time and more teacher training make sense, but not if students only get four additional instructional days and ...
Editorial: Mayor’s right: Pay camera fines or wear a ...
From the Editorial Board: If chronic ... From the Editorial Board: If chronic speeders aren't getting the message to slow down through citations, then a boot should do it.
Young worker makes good money but zero benefits
ABQnews Seeker
Dear J.T. & Dale: My daughter ... Dear J.T. & Dale: My daughter graduated college in the pandemic. Because she couldn't go o ...
5 ways to help protect your health on your ...
From the newspaper
OPINION: Proper travel preparation can help ... OPINION: Proper travel preparation can help avoid health issues, promote well-being and protect against unexpected complications.
We need different approaches for folks who have entered ...
From the newspaper
OPINION: There's an immediate need to ... OPINION: There's an immediate need to support shelters for migrants.
Chamber leaders assess impact on businesses after legislative session
ABQnews Seeker
The Journal reached out to three ... The Journal reached out to three chamber leaders - New Mexico Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Black, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce ...
Albuquerque junk removal company expands into pressure washing
ABQnews Seeker
A year after quitting their desk ... A year after quitting their desk jobs to start a junk removal company, Nathan Farmer and Brian Battaglia have added pressure washing to the ...