RUIDOSO — Steve Pearce, candidate for governor, has announced his Forestry Management Plan for all of New Mexico:
“New Mexico is a stunning and beautiful state. One of our great benefits is the vast expanse of undeveloped areas. We have abundant public land and that land should be accessible to all. As an avid hiker and backpacker, I value the majesty of our national forests, the solitude of our wilderness and the limitless horizon of the eastern side of the state. I believe it is critical that we invest in forest management to protect our forests and watersheds from the impact of extreme fire and drought. These lands are the lifeblood of our rural economy including tourism, forest products, and agriculture.
“Restoring the health of our forests will allow the natural recharging of our streams and aquifers, providing much-needed water that an arid state usually captures. New Mexico used to have more than a hundred timber mills and a vibrant forest economy. We should immediately rebuild that once thriving economy, restoring our healthy forests while renewing hope in some of the most economically distressed, rural counties of our state.
“An entire new industry based around bio-fuels production and biomass energy can be created producing alternative energy while cleaning up our overgrown forests. In all this, we will diminish the likelihood of the massive fires that destroy our forests for generations to come. As Governor, I look forward to working with our local communities and all stakeholders to finally save our forests, restore our watersheds, and create good paying jobs for all New Mexicans,” Pearce said.
Forestry Management Policy
Steve Pearce’s plan as Governor to save our forests, restore our watersheds, and create good paying jobs in the timber industry for New Mexicans:
1. Update the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Health Plan
Initiated in 2003 by Governor Bill Richardson, the NMFWHP was a comprehensive study of the state’s forest and watershed needs. Implemented in 2005, New Mexico State Forestry Division is still required to follow directives within this 15-year-old report as it develops annual Forest Action plans. Working with the state legislature to update and modernize this document is a foundational need. This plan will be able to show what has worked in New Mexico’s management and where improvements are needed. In the development of this future strategy, the Planning Committee should address:
Traditional density per acreage
Optimizing watershed health through forest management
Sustainable timbering operations
Updated review of impacts of timbering on native New Mexican species
Areas managed recently
2. NMSF and NMDHSEM Wildfire Suppression Taskforce
New Mexico State Forestry Division (NMSF) is responsible for fighting and suppressing all wildfires on state and often private lands. New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (NMDHSEM) are charged with preparation and response to state level emergencies. In any wildfire that impacts our state, both entities are vital to the successful suppression and recovery of our communities.
Under my Administration, a taskforce comprised of staff from both will be created to ensure New Mexico is ready to combat any potential wildfire as quickly as possible. This will include ensuring a fire suppression specialist is on call with Response and Recovery Bureau Watch Program during heightened fire season. Additionally, the taskforce will be charged with reviewing the current response structure that is in place both at NMSF and NMDHSEM to determine if greater efficiency can be achieved with all aspects of wildfire response from search and rescue and firefighting.
3. Healthy Forest Management Initiative with Federal Government
America’s national forests are sadly out of control. The proof is no clearer than right here in New Mexico. In Lincoln County, you cannot only see the destructive impact of failing to properly maintain our forests with the Little Bear fire scar, but you can actually see how unhealthy the Lincoln National Forest is where it meets the Mescalero Apache lands.
We must once and for all stop burning down our forests and protect our watersheds, species habitat, grazing allotments and recreational opportunities – while at the same time restarting the forestry industry and creating jobs for New Mexicans.
In Congress, I have supported efforts that allow states to partner with the United States Forest Service to allow any state to manage the forests within its boundaries. This would be ideal in New Mexico – it would allow the state to restart traditional timbering operations, maintain all forests to the same individualized standard that is best for the health and sustainability of the state’s lands and watershed. I have also supported efforts to support bio-mass as it would go a long way in providing a market for timber products in New Mexico.
I will use the information gathered by the Planning Committee to work with the U.S. Forest Service to identify areas that need to be treated immediately. I will urge the Forest Service to use authorities provided to them under the FY 18 Omnibus bill to expedite projects in critical areas while also working with stakeholders to make sure project costs are reasonable. This work would begin immediately.
I will also increase usage of the Good Neighbor Authority created in the 2014 Farm Bill and expanded in the Omnibus bill to treat large scale areas. I will work with the Forest Service to develop a master agreement for all of the forests in our state and then create supplemental project agreements for each individual forest. I will work with Forest Service, the State, and interest groups to fund projects and setup individual accounts for each forest where timber sales from each respective forest will go. These funds will be used to do work, administration costs, roads, watershed restoration, and NEPA compliance.