The Gila National Forest is revising its forest management plan for the first time since 1986. Your input is urgently needed on how the forest, the Gila River, Wilderness, wildlife, and other natural resources are managed for the next 20 – 30 years.
The draft plan was officially released on January 17, kicking off a 90-day public comment period that ends April 16. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, conservation groups asked that the Forest Service keep the public comment period open until we are able to safely and effectively engage in the public participation process, but the agency has re-affirmed this deadline.
Early reviews show that the Gila’s draft management plan falls far short. Instead of identifying and protecting wildlife migration corridors, Wilderness areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers, and incorporating the need to address the climate crisis, the Forest Service’s draft plan is insufficient.
Help us ensure that the Gila National Forest is managed for ecological integrity in the face of climate change and that eligible Wilderness areas and Wild and Scenic reaches of the Gila are protected by submitting your public comment TODAY. The deadline to submit comments is April 16.
We want you to write personalized and substantive comments. Tell the Forest Service how you would like to see Gila National Forest managed by clicking on the button below.
On April 5, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham took a big step toward protecting the wild Gila River when she vetoed $1.698 million in funding requested by the Interstate Stream Commission for diversion planning and design.
A hearty thank-you to the governor for taking this major step forward to fulfill her pledge to end work on the Gila River diversion project.
In her plan for managing the state’s water released last year, the governor stated she will “end work on the Gila River Diversion Project” given that “there is little to show for the millions of dollars spent on staff, lawyers and studies” with only one year left to secure approval of the project. She supported use of the Arizona Water Settlements Act funds for water efficiency, conservation and restoration projects.
We encourage Governor Lujan Grisham to take the additional steps to finally end work on this wasteful diversion project and instead fund community water projects to ensure a secure water supply for everyone in southwest New Mexico.
Please thank the Governor today for the veto and support her pledge to use Arizona Water Settlements Act monies to fund priority community water projects throughout southwest New Mexico rather than an unjust and environmentally damaging diversion project.
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) have initiated preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Gila River diversion project (NM Unit) proposed by the NM Central Arizona Project (CAP) Entity. During the public scoping period scheduled for June 12 – July 20, 2018, the BOR and ISC are requesting public comment on the issues that should be analyzed in the NM Unit EIS.
Flowing out of America’s first Wilderness Area, the Gila River is New Mexico’s last major undammed river. It’s home to seven threatened or endangered species and is proposed for long-term protection under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.
The proposed NM Unit is expensive, unaffordable and unfair and will harm threatened and endangered species and riparian habitat along the Gila and San Francisco rivers. The NM CAP Entity’s intention to divert in the future the full 14,000 acre-feet per year under the AWSA is speculative and unnecessary.
Attend a rally in opposition to the Gila River diversion on July 2 at 5pm at the State Bar of NM at 5121 Masthead St. NE in Albuquerque. As part of the rally, please join us to make public comment at the scoping meeting from 4pm to 7 pm.
NO DAM DIVERSION RALLY – SILVER CITY
July 9, 2018; 3pm
Attend a rally in opposition to the Gila River diversion on July 9 at 3pm outside of the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center.
PUBLIC SCOPING MEETINGS
Albuquerque, NM: Monday, July 2, 2018, 4-7 PM
State Bar of New Mexico, Rodey Classroom
5121 Masthead St NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
Chandler, AZ: Friday, July 6, 2018, 4-7 PM
Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, Acacia CD Room
5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd.
Chandler, AZ 85226
San Carlos, AZ: July 7, 2018, 1-4 PM
Apache Gold Casino Resort, Convention Center
777 Geronimo Springs Blvd Cutter Industrial Park
San Carlos, AZ 85550
Silver City, NM: July 9, 2018, 4-7 PM
Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center, Multipurpose Room
Holloman Air Force Base is considering expansion of its Special Use Airspace for training of F-16 fighter pilots over Silver City, the Gila National Forest and Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas.
Encompassing the nation’s first wilderness area and New Mexico’s last wild river, the Gila Region attracts retirees, outdoor recreation and tourism from throughout the U.S. and internationally. Holloman’s proposed action will impact the environment and wildlife and significantly degrade the rural character and quiet solitude of this unique area, impacting real estate values, outdoor recreation, tourism, and the local economy. The Gila Region, Alternative #2, should not be considered a viable option for Special Use Airspace.
Take action to oppose Holloman flyover proposal at PeacefulGilaSkies.com
Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo is considering expanding its Special Use Airspace to train F-16 fighter pilots. One of the alternatives being considered, Alternative #2, is to create a new Military Operations Area outside of Silver City, including over the Gila National Forest and Gila Wilderness. The Air Force is proposing to fly 10,000 training sorties annually, including low-level flights at 500 ft above ground surface, as well as 1000 supersonic sorties. The F-16’s will also train with air defense systems that employ chaff and flares – as many as 30,000 annually.
The Air Force did not hold a public meeting in Silver City or notify local elected officials about its proposal. Thanks to the public outcry and the efforts of local elected officials and conservation groups, the Air Force has agreed to attend a public meeting hosted by the Grant County Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 14th at 6pm at the Grant Co. Commission chambers. They will brief commissioners about the Holloman proposal and accept written public comment.
The human, wildlife and environmental impacts of this proposal could be severe. The extreme noise from low elevation overflights can be frightening and disruptive to humans and wildlife. Additionally, Holloman’s proposal requests use of chaff and flares (15,000 of each annually) for aircraft defense. These radar-disrupting systems introduce aluminum, plastic fibers and magnesium into the environment, with potential impacts to water quality and wildlife and increased risk of wild fire.
Stand Up for Gila National Forest Travel Management Plan
Grant County Commission Meeting
Tuesday, February 14, 8:45 am
Grant County Commission Chambers
1400 Highway 180 East, Silver City
At its February meeting tomorrow, the Grant County Commission will vote on whether to join the extremist Coalition of Counties in its lawsuit against the Gila National Forest regarding the July 2016 Travel Management Plan. Joining the lawsuit will cost Grant County $6,250 to retain the Budd-Falen Law Offices.
Please attend tomorrow’s Grant County Commission meeting and stand up for the Gila National Forest Travel Management Plan. You need to sign up by 8:45 am to make public comment.
Why should Grant County Commissioners say NO to joining this lawsuit?
The final Gila National Forest Travel Management Plan protects natural resources while also providing for ample access for all recreational needs:
The Gila National Forest Travel Management Plan limits motorized use to 3,334 miles of designated roads, trails and areas to protect natural resources, while also providing for motorized recreational opportunities. The more than 3000 miles of roads that remain open are enough to drive from Silver City to Alaska.
Under the plan, the “908 miles of roads to be closed to motor vehicle use are less than one-mile in length, some had signs of little to no use; some had cultural or natural resource concerns; and some were duplicates of others or parallel to each other and ended near the same locations,” according to the Gila National Forest.
The plan allows for dispersed camping, including big game retrieval.
There is a $1 billion backlog of road maintenance in New Mexico’s national forests. The Forest Service can’t afford to maintain roads that pose a threat to our streams and wildlife habitat.
The Gila National Forest Travel Management Plan is an important tool for protecting our watersheds and wildlife habitat critical to Grant County’s outdoor recreation economy. According to a NM Department of Game and Fish study, hunting, fishing and trapping in Grant County generates $15.5 million in spending, supports 112 jobs creating $2.8 million in labor income, and brings in $743 thousand in state and local tax revenue.
In May 2014 three young environmentalists gave their lives working to protect New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness and save the wild river that runs through it. A website has been set up to raise funds for a film project that portrays the living Gila River while telling the stories of the Ella Kirk, Michael Mahl and Ella Myers through the allegorical lens of the river that they loved.
If you’d like to help fund this documentary film project, visit the Heart of the Gila page here.
THE TIME IS NOW FOR THE FUTURE OF THE GILA RIVER, the last major undammed river in New Mexico and a crown jewel of the Southwest. From the Hooker Dam in the 1970’s to the current diversion threat under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA), these repeated attempts to dam and divert the Gila River underscore its chronically threatened status. Even if the current attempt to dam and divert the Gila fail as previous proposals have, it is certain that without permanent protection, defensive actions will continue to be necessary and this scenario will play out again and again in the future.
WRITE TO SENATOR TOM UDALL TODAY!
Please write a handwritten letter to Senator Tom Udall and tell him why you want him to permanently protect the Gila River for future generations. Points you could make include the following (see sample letter below):
The Gila River is an ideal and deserving candidate for Wild and Scenic designation given its free-flowing nature and numerous outstandingly remarkable values.
The headwaters of the Gila are in the world’s first Wilderness. The Gila headwaters comprise one of the largest wilderness complexes in the Americas.
The Gila is one of the largest undammed headwater watersheds remaining in temperate North America.
Sections of the Gila and San Francisco Rivers are included on the Nationwide Rivers Inventory due to their free-flowing nature and their outstandingly remarkable scenic, geological, wildlife, and cultural values.
The Gila River remains unprotected. In fact, only 124.3 miles of New Mexico’s 108,014 total river miles, or 1/10th of 1%, is protected through Wild and Scenic designation.
The need for permanent protection for the Gila River is as urgent as ever. Current diversion project planning under the AWSA could significantly impact the natural flow of the Gila River and consequently the myriad plant and animal species that depend on the river’s free-flowing nature.
HELP PROTECT THE GILA RIVER!
Contact Senator Tom Udall and show your support for permanent protection of the Gila River through the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.
Handwritten letters make the most impact on elected officials. However, if you are pressed for time, please email or call Senator Udall at www.tomudall.senate.gov/?p=contact or (202) 224-6621.
Honorable Senator Tom Udall
531 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Udall:
I am writing to you regarding the urgent need to protect the Gila River under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
As the last major undammed river in New Mexico, the Gila River is deserving of Wild and Scenic River designation given its free-flowing nature and numerous outstandingly remarkable values.
However, the Gila River remains unprotected and has been under chronic threat for decades from dam and diversion projects. Current diversion planning under the Arizona Water Settlements Act could significantly impact the natural flow of the Gila River and consequently the myriad plant and animal species that depend on the river’s free-flowing nature.
Why is the Gila River important to you?
I respectfully request your support for Wild and Scenic designation of the Gila River and its tributaries. I believe that it is critical that the Gila River is protected to preserve its outstandingly remarkable values for future generations.
Join us for the 6th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Saturday, January 14, 6:30 pm at Silco Theater
The Gila Conservation Coalition invites you to join us for the 6th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Saturday, January 14 at 6:30 pm at the historic Silco Theater at 311 N. Bullard St in Silver City. The festival focuses on films that speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet.
Tickets are $15 at the door, GCC members $12, and students are free. A special price for admission plus a GCC membership will be offered for $20.
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival features films about rivers, social justice and activism, indigenous food, and climate change. We have a great lineup, with both serious and light-hearted selections, and a few locally produced films.
Great prizes from national sponsors Patagonia, CLIF Bar, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Orion Magazine, Klean Kanteen, Earthjustice, and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly as well as local sponsors will be awarded as part of the raffle, free with admission.
“The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a natural extension of the Gila Conservation Coalition’s work to inspire people to act on behalf of the Gila River and its watershed,” says Allyson Siwik, Executive Director of the Gila Conservation Coalition. “The Wild & Scenic Festival shows us through film how communities like ours are working to protect their watersheds, unique landscapes, and the environment, galvanizing us to do the same.”
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was started by the watershed advocacy group, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in 2003. The festival’s namesake is in celebration of SYRCL’s landmark victory to receive “Wild & Scenic” status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999. The 4-day event features over 100 award-winning films and welcomes over 100 guest speakers, celebrities, and activists who bring a human face to the environmental movement. The home festival kicks-off the international tour to over 150 communities around the globe, allowing SYRCL to share their success as an environmental group with others organizations. The festival is building a network of grassroots organizations connected by a common goal of using film to inspire activism.
With the support of National Partners: Patagonia, CLIF Bar, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Orion Magazine, Klean Kanteen, Earthjustice, and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, the festival can reach an even larger audience.
“Films featured at Wild & Scenic give people a sense of place,” says Tour Associate Director, Amelia Workman. “In today’s busy world, it is easy to disconnect from our role in the global ecosystem. When we realize that the change we need in this world begins with us, we start making a difference.”
Martin’s Boat by Peter McBride honors the legacy of Colorado River conservation hero Martin Litton. The film follows the newest boat in the Grand Canyon Dories fleet, the Marble Canyon, on its maiden voyage down the legendary Colorado River through the grandest canyon on Earth. Martin pioneered whitewater dories on the Colorado River in the 1960s and started a proud tradition of naming the boats after wild places that had been lost or compromised by the hand of man.
Mother of All Rivers by Will Parrinello and Mill Valley Film Group tells the story of how Berta Cáceres rallied her indigenous Lenca people to wage a grassroots protest that successfully pressured the government of Honduras and the world’s largest Chinese dam builder, SinoHydro, to withdraw from building the Agua Zarca Dam. Narrated by Robert Redford, this film illustrates how an ordinary person can effect extraordinary change. Berta was a true environmental hero who placed herself squarely in harm’s way to battle intimidating adversaries while building strong grassroots support. In 2016, Berta was assassinated in her home by armed intruders, after years of threats against her life.
In Co2ld Waters by Jeremy Roberts, five of the most respected names in the fly fishing world converge on a single creek in Montana to talk about their passion and to discuss the single biggest threat to their timeless pursuit, climate change. Can 4 million fly anglers make a difference? Legendary fishermen, including Yvon Chouinard, believe it is possible.
A special thanks to our local sponsors:
Major Sponsors – Center for Biological Diversity, Dennis Weller Photography, Gila Hike and Bike, Gila Resources Information Project, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Stream Dynamics, Upper Gila Watershed Alliance, Vicki Allen, LISW, Bob Wilson & Lisa Houston
Sponsors – Tom & Martha Cooper, Bob Garrett & Mary Hotvedt, Southwest New Mexico Audubon Society, Silver City Food Co-op, Syzygy Tileworks, TheraSpeech, Western Institute for Lifelong Learning
Date & Time: January 14, 2017, 6:30 pm: Doors open at 6:00 pm and show starts at 6:30 pm.
Venue Name & Address: Silco Theater, 311 North Bullard St. Silver City
Ticket Prices: $15 at the door; GCC members $12; Admission + GCC membership $20; Students FREE.
For more information: Contact Allyson Siwik, firstname.lastname@example.org, 575. 538.8078. www.gilaconservation.org
Originating in America’s first designated wilderness area, New Mexico’s Gila River is a biological gem. Its riparian forests boast one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in the country — including rare yellow-billed cuckoos — and its waters sustain the endangered loach minnow, spike dace and Gila trout. The Gila is also a mainstay for the area’s recreation economy.
After three previous failed attempts to dam and divert this iconic southwestern river, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and local New Mexico CAP Entity are planning the Gila River diversion project — a billion-dollar boondoggle that could destroy the river as we know it.
The New Mexico Unit Agreement must be signed by the NM CAP Entity and Secretary Jewell by November 23rd.
We need your help NOW to urge Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to save the Gila River once and for all. SIGN THE PETITION!
· The Gila River is an ecological treasure that deserves long-term protection.
· The diversion project is technically infeasible and will yield little to no water in many years.
· The Gila diversion is expected to be hugely expensive, with construction costs estimated by the Bureau of Reclamation at $800M to $1 billion and a continuing cost for operation, maintenance, and CAP exchange water in excess of $10 million each year, in perpetuity.
· The diversion is unaffordable for New Mexicans. The federal funds available will pay for only a small fraction of the construction cost of the NM Unit, leaving a gap of up to $900+ million for taxpayers and water users to cover.
· The project is unnecessary because the area’s long-term water needs can be met by other proven means — through conservation, groundwater management, water recycling and watershed restoration.
Gila River diversion, but won’t commit to paying for it
Tell your elected official “No” to billion-dollar Gila diversion boondoggle!
June 18, 2015
After weeks of negotiations, the NM Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) approved last week a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) to form the NM CAP Entity that will be responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the billion-dollar Gila River diversion project.
As part of the negotiations at last week’s meeting, local parties to the JPA refused to make a commitment to finance the project, although the ISC made it clear that the NM Unit will not be built without local financing.
In the face of a threatened revolt by local interests, the ISC removed language that would have required a local commitment to fund the project. ISC Commissioner Mark Sanchez, however, voiced concern that parties to the JPA would not understand that they would have to pay into the project eventually. “Local communities are fooling themselves if they don’t think they’re going to have to provide some funding themselves.” He said that tens of millions of dollars could be spent designing and planning a project that may never go forward.
Local governments want it both ways. They want the diversion project, yet are trying to avoid being on the hook for the billion-dollar bill. The ISC and Bureau of Reclamation have made it clear that local communities will have to cover the huge costs of the Gila River diversion.
By moving forward with this charade, tens of millions of dollars will be wasted on consultants and engineers to design a diversion project that is technically, financially and environmentally infeasible. AWSA funding could otherwise be spent now on cost-effective non-diversion projects that will meet southwest New Mexico’s future water needs for a tenth the cost of the billion-dollar diversion.
Over the next few weeks, local governments will be voting on resolutions to sign the JPA and join the NM CAP Entity.
Please contact your elected officials and tell them that the NM CAP Entity JPA is bad for our local communities. Attend upcoming county commission and city council meetings and tell them to vote “NO” on the JPA. Demand that your local officials don’t slam the door shut on funding for cost-effective community water projects.
The JPA commits NM CAP Entity parties to a $1 billion diversion project that is technically infeasible, is expensive and unaffordable, and is unnecessary given that non-diversion alternatives can reliably meet water supply needs at a small fraction of the cost of a diversion.
By signing onto the JPA, NM CAP Entity parties may issue bonds and levy taxes and user fees on water users to pay for the costs of the NM Unit. The Arizona Water Settlements Act subsidy of $100M won’t cover the full cost of the NM Unit, leaving a gap of $900+ million for taxpayers and water users to cover.
The JPA prohibits any additional allocation of funds from the NM Unit Fund to cost-effective non-diversion alternatives.
The JPA will allow an additional NM Unit on the San Francisco River that will increase costs and expand the footprint of environmental degradation. The ISC stated at its May 7 meeting that a second NM Unit on the San Francisco River is likely given the potential for “severe environmental problems” from a Gila River diversion.
Your elected officials are scheduled to take public comment and/or vote on the following dates and times:
Silver City Town Council, 1400 Hwy 180 East, Silver City
Public Comment and Vote – June 23rd, 6:00 pm, Agenda
Luna County Commission, 700 S. Silver Avenue, Deming
Public Comment – June 24th 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Vote – June 24th, 7:30 PM
Grant County Commission, 1400 Hwy 180 E, Silver City