Protect More Wilderness in Nuestro Gila!
The Gila National Forest is revising its land management plan, which will guide how the forest will be managed for the next 20 to 30 years. The Forest Service released their draft forest plan on January 17 and are accepting public comment until April 16. Now is the time for nuestra comunidad to step up and let the Forest Service know what the Gila means to us.
Wilderness is the highest level of protection for our public lands and is designed to protect lands and wildlife in their natural state. While only Congress can designate wilderness, the Forest Service can recommend areas be designated for wilderness in its forest plan.
This forest plan is integral to maintaining the unique wildlife, water quality and vast scenic landscapes where we hunt, fish, hike, camp, ride horses, picnic, bird-watch and take leisurely drives. Unfortunately, the draft forest plan does not go far enough to protect our Hispanic heritage, wilderness, water, and wildlife. Alternative 2, the Forest Service’s preferred alternative, only recommends 110,402 acres of wilderness. Alternative 5, which recommends 745,286 acres of wilderness, is the better choice.
Some of the most important places that the Forest Service should recommend for wilderness are among the most ecologically valuable undeveloped lands left in New Mexico and the Forest Service’s own evaluation concluded that they possess either Outstanding, High or Moderate/High wilderness characteristics. These areas clearly merit wilderness protection.
For many of us, the Gila holds special memories. Now the Gila needs our help. Please submit a comment to the Forest Service before the April 16th deadline.