Louis Bacon‘s Trinchera Blanca Foundation recently hosted a roundtable discussion in southern Colorado about best practices in forest health management with partners and other practitioners in the area. A thought leader in this conversation is Lesli Allison, founding member and Executive Director of the Western Landowners Alliance and the Chama Peak Land Alliance. Through both organizations, Lesli has worked extensively with private landowners and multiple stakeholders to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities. She highlights on MCF founder Louis Bacon‘s blog how forest managers today, both public and private, understand that maintaining ecological health should be the first principle in managing natural forests. She points out that, as a society, there are two things we can do to help:
Re-invest in the forests and watersheds that sustain us. The USDA currently operates with a fraction of the designated funding needed. Last year alone, $700 million was taken from Forest Service Management accounts to cover emergency fire fighting costs. Congress needs to enact the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which will fund emergency fire needs like we treat other national emergencies, and not at the cost of long-term restoration management. Monies need to be increased and designated for pro-active forest health actions, including support for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration and Hazards Fuels Reductions programs. Pro-active management is far less expensive than fire suppression and disaster recovery costs and will save taxpayers dollars and devastating losses in the long run.
Support and participate in collaborative efforts by landowners, community stakeholders and agency partners to manage forests in innovative ways. Place-based collaborative conservation is proving successful in many landscapes and offers a way in which people can work together constructively to address the complex and pressing challenges of stewarding our shared natural resources.