|For centuries, trees and forests have held a special value for individuals and cultures around the world. As such, it is inevitable that laws were adopted to protect and define their management.
The modern debate about what we call forest practice laws began with a battle between Gifford Pinchot and William Greeley. Pinchot not only advocated public ownership of the vast federal lands, he also argued that all private forest lands should be regulated to stop the abuses of the cut and get out timber operations.
Pinchot once wrote: The most urgent need of the forests of America is similar control. Voluntary cooperation as a means of ending forest devastation has broken down. Almost every civilized country has, to some extent, public control of lumbering on private forest lands. In America, we must have such controls as will stop forest devastation. This is the key to our future in forestry.
Greeley believed that landowner education, technical assistance, and aid were preferable alternatives. The difference between Pinchot and Greeley reflects the classic debate between those who believe that people will do the right thing if they only know what to do and those who believe that rules must be adopted and enforced if the right thing is to be done. It is analogous to the basic rule of the road - do we really need speed limits and traffic patrols, or is driver education and a basic understanding of highway safety enough? Because we obviously need both, the question is how much of each?
The Forestry Division strives to keep staff up-to-date with the current science and research regarding timber management planning and techniques. Using best available science, staff work with landowners in developing a management plan for their resources that will meet their objectives and improve or maintain watershed health. There is not one method or technique that will achieve the desired conditions on every piece of ground, even if they are growing the same type of trees.
If you'd like to see what a managed forest looks like, there are several demonstration forests around the state sponsored by State Forestry and the New Mexico Tree Farmer Program. Please check out the Demonstration Forest information on our site. Staff foresters participate in continuing education, in-house training and share ideas with other states' forestry agencies. Opportunities to network with other foresters and stay on top of the current science include Society of American Foresters (SAF) meetings and field trips, several staff are members and a few are Certified Foresters through the SAF; and the Western States' Forest Practices Roundup, held in a different state each year.
For more information or to request a site visit by one of our foresters, please contact the district office nearest you.