SW Community Forestry Caucus

The Roundtable-Taos , NM 1999

Over several days in July of 1999, approximately 300 people gathered at a conference center in Taos , New Mexico . Out in the courtyard and in the meeting rooms, people gathered in groups of 12-20. There were expressions of concern, need, and hope about the forests of the Southwest and the Four Corners region; specifically, about the loss of timber production capacities and skills, and the decline of wood product markets. At times, speakers were optimistic about some beginning efforts in northern New Mexico to build bridges between traditional Hispanic wood users and the national forests, at a time when many of the national forest were closed by court order to commercial wood harvesting, due to Mexican spotted owl habitat issues. There were presentations on new stewardship efforts on a large private ranch, an assessment of potential new wood products that could be made from small-diameter materials, and there were encouraging words from municipal and congressional leaders, and public managers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the USDA Forest Service (USFS).

But the meeting in Taos , the first regionally sponsored by the FCSFP, was primarily about brainstorming ideas for implementing a program that would link rural development and forest restoration. Folks sat around in small group circles with flipcharts talking about a vision for community forestry, about the role of forest science, the importance of public information about forest conditions, the need for demonstration projects, marketing and utilization, and how natural resource management policy could be improved. Flip chart notes were consolidated and later synthesized in a manner that served as a beginning framework for the Four Corners Sustainable Forests Partnership.

One of the lasting results of the discussion groups was a detailed list of concerns and objectives brought forward into the "Initiative," formalized by the leadership, and developed into program objectives and activities over time. Here are some of the specific recommendations made:

  • Public Education: Educate the public about the changing directions in forest management and create an educational campaign that makes the case for forest restoration;
  • Restoration Monitoring: Establish a protocol for monitoring restoration projects;
  • New Technologies: Provide additional information on new technologies for value-added wood production;
  • Prioritize Goals for Demo Grants: Set priorities for next year's community demonstration grants;
  • Promote Successful Demonstration Grants: Promote successful results of demonstration projects;
  • Legislative Leadership: Build legislative and governmental leadership for community sustainability and forest restoration;
  • Incentives for Restoration: Provide assistance and incentives to promote forest restoration;
  • Policy Support: Work on policies to support forest stewardship. (Emphasis added.)

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