Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
‘Tree hugger’ has burning passion for forest health
When the Allexes bought their first property in the Peñasco valley in the late 1970s, the trees on it were packed together, growing thin and spindly. No grass grew underneath the shady canopy. No sunlight warmed the forest floor. Little rain or snow could hit the ground.
In the last 30 years, Hart Allex and his crews have thinned trees and brush and burned piles of slashed woody material on about 250 acres. He’s paid for the work with a couple of small state grants but largely out of his own pocket. “After burning uncounted piles of slash and watching over 1,000 truckloads of wood go out, we can walk through the resulting park,” said Allex, who grew up in Los Alamos and taught in Alaska with his wife, a native of Chimayó, for years before returning home to New Mexico.
Now the trees left behind have grown fatter and taller, he said. The trees are producing pine cones. Wildlife has returned.
“The forests up here are so sterile because of the lack of food that there’s little wildlife,” Allex said. “Once we break it open and the ground vegetation like shrubs grow, the turkeys, deer, squirrels and other animals have something to eat.”
Overgrown forests where natural fires weren’t allowed to burn for years now present a greater risk of major wildfires, especially during drought. Wildfires have grown increasingly large and catastrophic, burning on mountains that are the source of clean water for rivers and people. After wildfires blister through an area, it is vulnerable to rain washing sediment, ash and debris into reservoirs and rivers.
“If we don’t thin or log and burn on a regular basis, then God burns it down by the millions of acres a year,” Allex said...more