Forest Guardians

Forest Guardians

Forest Guardians is a non profit environmental organization that is based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of their fundamental beliefs is that the diversity of wildlife, plants and ecosystems, and wild spaces untrammeled by human beings hold the key to the rehabilitation of an impoverished region. They also strongly advocate that the government "allow fire to reassert its natural role in backcountry forests and for more use of prescribed fire closer to home" [ [ Forest Guardians - Southwestern Forests - Wildland Fire ] ] .

Forest Guardians celebrated 15 years of activity on September 30, 2004.

Mission Statement

"Founded in 1989, Forest Guardians has emerged as a results-driven group with a proven record of defending and preserving threatened southwestern wildlife and ecosystems. Our approach to conservation features a potent combination of scientific analysis, strategic litigation to enforce existing environmental laws, and efforts to reform misguided public polices."

"~as taken from the Forest Guardians Home Page" [ [ About Forest Guardians] Forest Guardian Home Page ]


Endangered Species

Forest Guardians is working to fundamentally reform federal endangered species policy by steadily applying pressure on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list and provide critical habitat for imperiled species; watch-dogging federal land managers such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to ensure their activities do not harm species on the brink; and raising awareness in the media and among the public of the importance of recovering at-risk native animals and plants and the need to bring this mandate home to our federal, state, and local governments.

Some of the animals Forest Guardians focuses on are the Black-footed Ferret, the Burrowing Owl, the Utah Prairie Dog, the , the Lesser Prairie Chicken, the Aplomado Falcon, The Canada Lynx, the Mexican Spotted Owl, the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, the Swift Fox, and the Abert’s squirrel. Forest Guardians is continually working to either relocate prairie dogs to a location in which they can prosper or rehabilitate their habitate to where they can successfully stay in their current environment. There has been a dramatic decline in the Prairie Dog population over the past 100 years due to hunting and mainly the encroachment on their land. Prairie Dogs have lost up to 90% of their natural habitate in some areas. Prairie Dogs are extremely important because about 208 species rely on the them in some way or another. For more information about any of these animals you can click on their respective links.

For a complete list and some information about all the animals Forest Guardians works on protecting, click [ here] to be directed to their official Index of Species page.

River Restoration

In this land of little rain, the green river corridors are literally the lifeblood of our communities. In New Mexico, over 80% of the state's population resides in cities along the Rio Grande [ [

] Population Map of New Mexico ] . But waterways are not only the lifeblood of human communities in the Southwest, these rivers are also the biological backbone of our arid ecosystem. Eighty percent of all vertebrate species in the Southwest depend on riparian areas, and over half these species cannot survive without regular access to riparian zones [ [] ] .

Southwestern river systems are suffering from decades of improper land management. Water diversions, [ [ agricultur ] ] flood control, and cattle grazing [ [ Microsoft Word - nmpmcsy03852.doc ] ] [ [ riparian.htm ] ] have all contributed to the degradation of southwestern river systems. Dewatering and overgrazing and other stresses have eliminated native trees and allowed invasive non-native trees to become established, all of which further stresses the ability of these critical ecosystems to function properly.

Grazing Reform

Livestock production is by far the most widespread destructive activity on the arid and semi-arid western landscape. Forest Guardians is working to fundamentally reform livestock grazing on public lands by enforcing federal environmental laws, challenging wasteful and ecologically harmful ranching subsidies, and educating the public about the real ecological costs of livestock production in the arid Southwest.

Deserts and Grasslands

Deserts. Forest Guardians aims to transform a mainstream image of arid landscapes from wastelands to wildplaces.

Oil and Gas

Forest Guardians challenges new oil and gas leases and is part of a coalition of groups fighting for the preservation of places like Otero Mesa, a vast and complex grassland which is home to several wildlife and native plant species and has been opened to oil and gas drilling by the Bureau of Land Management. By proposing the creation of a 300,000 acre (1,200 km²) protected area and pushing for protection of specific species such as the Alpomado falcon, Forest Guardians hopes to counter the oil and gas industry. Most importantly, Forest Guardians is promoting the need to implement technological innovations and make the transition to clean energy.


The Forest Guardians have caused controversy for their position on wildfires and biomass, and they have been accused of making strident and personal attacks against fellow environmentalists who do not share all of their positions [ "Personal Attacks a Last Resort," David Cohen, Mountain View Telegraph, 9/27/07, [] ] .

Syndicated columnist, Sherry Robinson, called the Forest Guardians "an extremist group with a disinformation campaign" [ "Biomass Lacks Guardian Approval," Rio Grande Sun, 6/7/07 ] . Another syndicated columnist, Kristen Davenport, said that the organization is "far-reaching" [ "Bio Mess," Albuquerque Tribune, 8/29/07 ] . The Rio Grande Foundation called the group "radical environmentalists." [ "Can the Environmentalists be Satisfied?" [] ] And supporters of biomass energy development have accused the Forest Guardians of “bad faith,” “flip-flopping” and “radicalism.” [ In a number of articles and posts at [ New Mexico Biomass] ] .

The Forest Guardians’ position on wildfires drew particular criticism when they produced a report called “Born of Fire,” a “comprehensive review of the Forest Service’s fire policy and practices in the Southwest.” In the report, they “proposed an alternative vision… which calls on the government to allow fire to reassert its natural role in backcountry forests and for more use of prescribed fire closer to home.” [ [ Forest Guardians - Southwestern Forests - Wildland Fire ] ] After the 2000 Los Alamos wildfire, in which a prescribed fire went horribly awry sweeping through convert|20000|acre|km2|-1 of northern New Mexico, some environmentalists, locals and forest service professionals have recoiled from the Forest Guardians call for more “prescribed fire closer to home.” [ For more on the Los Alamos wildfire, see the BBC article at this link [] ]


External links

* [ The Forest Guardians Home Page]
* [ Newspaper Article] about a lawsuit Forest Guardians filed with Sinapu to prevent recreational trapping.
* [ PDF of the filed complaint] in the lawsuit with Sinapu against recreational trapping.
* [ Newspaper Article] about a lawsuit Forest Guardians was involved with fighting for the protection of the Gunnison’s Prairie Dog
* [ Newspaper Article] about a lawsuit that Forest Guardians filed against the US Forest Service for jeopardizing the endangered Mexican spotted owl through poor grazing management.
* [] about a petition that Nicole issued to get 475 threatened south west species onto the Endangered Species Act
* [ New Mexico Biomass] for a critical perspective on the Forest Guardians stance on alternative energy and wildfires.

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