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Northern New Mexico National Forests Seek Public Comment on Riparian Restoration Project

By SFNF

The Carson, Cibola and Santa Fe National Forests and Kiowa National Grasslands are soliciting public input on a proposal to restore riparian, wetland and aquatic ecosystems in Northern New Mexico to improve habitat, watershed health and water quality.

Although only 2% of the 4.7 million acres of National Forest System (NFS) lands in Northern New Mexico are riparian areas, they provide essential ecological functions far beyond their small footprint on the landscape. Riparian zones provide the highest plant, bird, insect, reptile-amphibian, and mammal biodiversity on the forests. At the same time, they have been impacted by significant stressors, including climate change, uncharacteristic wildfire, agriculture and grazing, urbanization, recreational use and invasive species.

The three forests are working together to increase the pace and scale of riparian, wetland and aquatic ecosystem restoration by identifying a broad range of projects and preparing an environmental assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Proposed projects range from channel reconstruction and streambank restoration to planting riparian species and restoring beaver habitat.

Comments received by Nov. 4, 2019, will help determine the scope of the Northern New Mexico Riparian, Aquatic and Wetland Restoration Project, including the environmental issues to be considered in the EA. The forests are hosting three public meetings during the scoping period:

The scoping document and other resources are posted on the project webpage along with a link to the online comment system. Written comments can also be submitted by mail, email or in person. Instructions on submitting comments can be found in the scoping document.

Members of the public will also have the opportunity to comment on the draft EA. Submitting timely, specific comments during either comment period will give individuals and entities eligibility to file an objection to the final EA and draft Decision Notice.

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