Last week the Gila Forest Service offered a meeting with the public concerning its plan to use herbicides as part of an hazardous fuel reduction program to protect private property from fire. The public has until Aug 21 to comment on this plan. You can go here to see the plan: 
 To get to the info on herbicides - open "Scoping" folder at bottom of the page. Go to "Proposed action" pdf and on page 9 they describe the intended herbicide use. 

For a database of herbicide toxicity studies you can go to 

Here is the email for comments on the proposed forest service plan: 

Some thoughts in response to their plan:

1.The mechanical and manual cutting part of the plan is a good choice for linking the many young strong men in our area who are looking for paid work with meaningful work. 

2. As to the use of Herbicides, I think that there is ample proof in the scientific community that environmental toxicity has severely injured the chain of life from insects to humans and therefore can no longer be considered as a viable solution. It doesn't make sense to fight one threat to life with another. I live on Little Walnut. I prefer to take my chances with fire than with long-term unknown disease from pesticides in my well water. Please do not use Herbicides upstream from my home!

3. You don't need experts on chemicals to give you this information. It is already collated into a database of scientific research papers at the website . All of the chemicals listed on the forest service proposal have been documented to cause injury to the chain of life.

4. I also question who would be the experts deciding what chemicals are acceptable. Are they being subsidized by chemical companies?

5. I understand that eradication of the Ailanthus trees is of particular concern. Is this because they are considered an invasive species? Perhaps they are serving a succession function now in relation to the damage done to the forest by human activities over the years.
I don't see any way that trying to kill them with herbicides is going to work since you are mandated not to treat near riparian areas where the Ailanthus thrives. 

7. Here is a study from Ohio which documents successful eradication of Ailanthus using inoculation with oyster mushrooms.

Perhaps a study here in the Gila Forest involving inoculation with native mushroom spores could be implemented in the fall with more moisture in the environment before freezing times.

A great book The New Wild by Fred Pearce documents scientific research showing the return of forests with many of their old species of flora and fauna after farming had destroyed them. Much of the return is facilitated by alien/invasive species which act as succession canopy offering protective cover to create novel ecosystems that nature uses to repair its losses. Pearce documents many conservation scientists saying that it is erroneous to aim at conserving pristine old growth forests, which he calls the "Old Wild".

Due to human impact on the planet, these no longer exist in a natural state and become high maintenance parks, no longer naturally wild. The "New Wild" consists of Nature's adaptation to human impact in novel and creative ways, including incorporating "alien/invasive" species. As old species continue to go extinct due to human activities, new wild species are evolving and diversity is being maintained.

Humans don't understand fully the impact of our interventions, especially chemicals. Nature turns out to be quite resilient and adaptable. Let us help her do her job and not make it harder by adding more disruptive chemicals to the soil and water.

Molly Swan

Little Walnut, Grant County, New Mexico

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