To: Tom Tidwell, Chief
U.S.D.A. Forest Service
From: Nancy Freeman
P. O. Box 934
Green Valley, AZ 85622
Date: January 5, 2012
Subject: Trees destined for destruction in the Coronado National Forest and Multi-use purpose of the Forest Service
Dear Mr. Tidwell,
An offical Forest Service stated in a letter, dated March 24, 2011 [FS-Reply.htm] that the Forest Service does not inventory trees in the National Forest (unless they are intended for harvesting). Therefore, I have taken on the task to conduct a count myself. It was not easy to do so as a single, retired person with limited income. However, I was determined that you, as the Chief of the Forest Service, understand the incredible trees in Santa Rita section of the Coronado National Forest. With the aid of a 3' by 4' ortho-photo map, and two high school science clubs, we have obtained some data as to the number and the varieties of trees that would be destroyed by the Canadian Augusta Resource mining company in the region of the Rosemont Junction.
From the ortho-photo map, divided into squares, and carefully counted with a slotted ruler, I have ascertained that 33,000 mature trees would be destroyed on Forest Service land. [See Map] Many of these are century-plus oaks. Some 10,000 trees are located on patented land. The private land of Rosemont Ranch of around 300 acres is also included in the count, as there are stands of huge oaks there that were photographed in 1900, so we know their age is well over a century.
The whole region is ribboned washes that are lined with stands of Emory oaks, desert willows, Arizona walnuts and hackberries. High school students from the Science Clubs in Sahuarita, AZ and Vail, AZ completed a tree counts and identified the species of trees on several 50 yard sections for 10 yards on each side of a wash. Their reports verified the incredible biodiversity in the region. They found specimens of all sizes—seedlings to monoliths, indicating that the ecosystem is healthy and continuing to rejuvenate itself.
Vail High School Tree Count
Sahuarita High School Tree Count
I have been told that the National Forest was created specifically to be used for exploitation of natural resources: timber and minerals. I was told by an official in the Tucson, AZ Forest Service office, that the National Forest was not created for conservation, as was the National Park System. If this is true, why does Chief Tidwell state in his words to the public [www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/chief/]:
“our purpose is twofold”:
to make sure that America 's forests and grasslands are in the healthiest condition they can be; and
to see to it that you [the public] have lots of opportunities to use, enjoy, and care for the lands and waters that sustain us all.
Our focus at the Forest Service is on the ground—on the places where you live, work, and play. Above all, we're dedicated to keeping everyone on the ground safe and secure. Our goal is to serve our communities, both rural and urban. One way is to work with partners for healthy, resilient forests and rangelands on federal, state, and private lands. Healthy lands support the outdoor activities of millions of Americans each year, a service we proudly provide on the National Forest System. A central concern for all Americans is sustainable land management. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to protect our communities, properties, and wildland resources from catastrophic fire and other threats. [Emphasis mine]
I consider hard rock mining "other threats."
I recall the first time I met a Forest Service geologist in the Tucson , Arizona office. Beverly Everson recounted to me how terrible it was that a group of hobbyist gold diggers had dug up a tree (in the Prescott National Forest ) in their pursuit of gold. So a few hobbyist destroying a tree can be prosecuted under the Forest Regulation. And why would there be regulations with penalties for destroying trees if conserving them were not the desirable goal? And what is the regulation? Does it allow mining companies to destroy thousands of trees, while prosecuting citizens for destroying one or two trees?
In the letter from Joel Holtrop [FS-Reply.htm], he stated:
As you have discovered on our websites, we are a multiple-use agency whose mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
And from the webpage of the Coronado National Forest headquarters website: [www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/about/about.shtml ],
Our Forest mission is to sustain the unique biodiversity of the sky island ecosystems and provide a variety of high quality visitor opportunities and services within the capabilities of these ecosystems. We promote the use of prescribed fire as an important tool in maintaining healthy ecosystems. We will continue to enhance our organizational effectiveness and community partnerships.
The sky islands of the Coronado National Forest are healthy ecosystems with an abundant and diverse flora and fauna. They provide an array of high quality outdoor recreation opportunities with an emphasis on enhancing visitor understanding and enjoyment of the Forest 's special natural and cultural resources. Rural communities and urban residents collaborate with the Forest Service. Our employees are highly valued as conservation leaders.
Quality outdoor recreation opportunities
Fire protection and management
Public relations and collaboration
In his letter, Mr. Holtrop mentioned that I have a" great interest in the mission of the U.S. Forest Service and how this mission is carried out." After additional research, I am even more interested and have many more doubts. For example, I have reviewed the Acts that created the forest reserves and the Forest Service.
1897: Organic Act created Forest Reserve to secure water and timber for the U.S. They did a good job of choosing the most suitable properties. In Arizona and New Mexico , the Reserves comprised 14% of the land, while delivering 40% of the water needed for urban centers.Therefore, most of the “reserves” are in the dry West.
1905: The Forest Reserves were transferred to a National Forest system under the Agriculture Secretary because of the focus of management of trees and water. The Agriculture Department had no knowledge of, or dealings with, mining.
1960: Multiple Use/Sustained Yield Act (MUSY) was created to maintain the forest for sustained yield management for all forest products and services. This act was intended to alleviate the pressure for a single-use purpose. Five uses were identified for the forest reserves: 1) Water; 2) Wood; 3) Wildlife; 4) Grazing; 5) Recreation. 6) Added in 1976: Wilderness
1976: National Forest Management Act (NFMA) mandated public participation in developing National Forest Plan. A Forest Plan is in existence for the Coronado National Forest and it does not include mining at all.
Frankly, I don't see a single word about the National Forest being created for exploitation of natural resources—not even in its multi-use categories. In short, why are you, as the Chief, and other Forest Service officials misleading the public by stating one thing publicly and doing another in actuality?
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S.D.A. Associate Chief
Forest Service Deputy Chief
EPA, District 9
Coronado National Forest officials
Arizona Bureau of Land Management
Arizona Geological Survey
Arizona Native American Tribes
Cienega Watershed Partnership
U.S. Senate Public Lands and Forests sub-committee
U.S. House of Representatives Natural Parks , Forests, and Public Lands Sub-Committee