Help Protect the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
Doing Harm and Calling it Good
The massive Cones Fire Project allows the BLM to use chainsaws, fire and herbicides to “restore” the wild and wondrous Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in north central New Mexico. The result will likely be more than 100,000 acres of flattened and denuded wasteland. Comments are due September 5.
The important issues are:
- The best available science shows that large scale removal of vegetation yields inconsistent and mixed results at best, and often does more harm than good, disturbing fragile soils, degrading native wildlife habitat, increasing invasive species and scarring wilderness quality landscapes.
- Ignoring the advice of experts, the project will remove 90 percent of mature trees from crucial Pinyon Jay nesting habitat. The Pinyon Jay is a keystone species of the piñon-juniper woodlands whose regional population is in steep decline. Other woodland birds will also be harmed including Clark's Nutcracker, Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay, Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse and Black-throated Gray Warbler.
- Contrary to their claims most studies show that wildlife habitat is not improved by the wholesale removal of woodlands and sagebrush. For example, removing vegetation often has an insignificant effect on the habitat of mule deer and elk.
- The effects of spraying the herbicide tebuthiuron on over 10,000 acres is potentially devastating to biological crusts which stabilize highly erodible desert soils and provide essential nutrients to plants.
- Nearly half the treated area is roadless wilderness. Trees and plant life will be cleared and sprayed with herbicides without considering the impacts to the wilderness character of this awe-inspiring landscape.
- The Project is oblivious to the value of climate stabilizing woodlands. These woodlands are a storehouse of carbon and their destruction will release tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.