Editor’s Note: The following comment was sent to Design Workshop, the contractor that’s been working on the development plan in the Kachina Basin. A “scaled down” version, negotiated with the existing landowners in the basin, includes hundreds of commercial and residential structures, roads, parking areas, trails, a gondola, and more on the 57 privately held acres. The public was initially given one week to comment, but after numerous appeals for more time, the deadline was extended another week.
October 16, 2021
To: Jessica Garrow, Design Workshop
From: Jon Klingel, retired wildlife biologist
Re: Plans for the private land at base of Kachina Peak
The destruction of wildlife habitat that has already occurred in this area is extensive. You are proposing to greatly expand on the destruction. The statement that you plan to “preserve and restore the natural environment” is a complete farce. I don’t believe you could restore the damage that has been done to date, even if you wanted to. If you and TSV left now, the forest might repair itself in several hundred years.
There has been massive destruction of marten habitat in recent years on the Carson National Forest portion of TSV as well as the adjacent the private lands. Marten are very limited in New Mexico and the area you are destroying is the best habitat in the state. Their habitat is mature, old growth spruce-fir forest with considerable dead and down, coarse woody debris (down logs). They are currently listed Threatened by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The continued presence of marten and other spruce-fir dependent species in New Mexico appears to be tenuous, at best, due to extensive habitat degradation and loss that has occurred during recent decades, continues to occur, and is forecast to become worse. Many other species are also dependent on similar habitat. I assume this is not news to you, that you have done your homework and have, at the very least, already identified the state and federal threatened and endangered species that use this area.
I suspect the ultra rich folks who will build second homes in the destroyed wildlife habitat don’t care. With the extensive greenwashing coming from TSV, they may not even realize the destruction that has occurred. To many of us, actions speak louder than words, and the planned development will cause further destruction no matter how much greenwashing is spread by TSV and you.
You say you are going to restore the natural environment. How are you going to restore the marten habitat? How are you going to restore the boreal owl habitat? How are you going to restore the snowshoe hare and lynx habitat? How are you going to restore the red-backed vole habitat?
Perhaps you will say you needed to destroy all that forest for fire protection. That would also be a lie. Historically, fire in spruce-fir has been uncommon, with a natural fire return interval of 200+ years. Restoration practices such as thinning, which is appropriate for systems such as ponderosa pine, are destructive, not restorative, in spruce-fir.
Have you even thought about the impacts you will have on the surface and ground water?