On May 22 and 23rd, the 2-3-2 Cohesive Strategy Partnership met for a happy hour, tour of local project areas and a formal meeting on various subjects. The evening happy hour offered the first chance for partners that normally live hours away to meet face-to-face and brainstorm project ideas and learn about what’s happening across the two state region.
The 23rd kicked off with a morning tour of a timber sale in progress on Pueblo Ridge, as well as a wetland restoration project on the Rio Fernando. After a beautiful drive up the Rio Fernando valley above Taos, Chris Furr of the Carson National Forest described the thinning operation, and how older environmental assessment stipulations vary slightly from common forestry strategies today. Foresters from the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests also shared their strategies for addressing the National Environmental Policy Act, including creating larger plans that incorporate flexibility to accommodate various ecosystems and timescales. The environmental assessment for the Pueblo Ridge Timber Sale also approved the restoration of three headcuts (areas of stream erosion) in the area. Moving forward, some members of the group, including representatives from Trout Unlimited and Amigos Bravos, hope to see more specific plans for watershed restoration incorporated into other forest-based environmental assessments.
At the second site, the group toured the La Jara Wetland Jewel and the Flechado Cattle allotment. Wetland Jewels are wetland areas of particular importance identified by Amigos Bravos through a community based mapping project. The La Jara fen site has some erosion issues impacting the water flow, and Amigos Bravos is exploring options for restoring the site. In addition, fences intended to keep cattle from the Flechado Allotment out of the wetland have become degrade, so Amigos Bravos is working to repair the fences. However, fire restriction that prohibit welding have postponed the fence restoration in the short terms.
Following the tour, a group including 30 partners from throughout the 2-3-2 region met in the stately Taos County Chambers. The meeting included a presentation my Eini Lowel and Marcus Kauffman (from Oregon) on new tools developed to inform and explore business opportunities in the biomass industry. For example, an entrepreneur could explore the labor, equipment, costs, and payback of opening a new sawmill of a certain size. The group also shared updates from their project areas, invited feedback on specific project ideas, and discussed potential sites for a field tour of the 2-3-2 region for national, state, and local leaders.
Tour participants view the La Jara Wetland Jewell with Rachel Conn of Amigos Bravos.