About those controlled burns: Listen to the science | Letters To Editor

That was an excellent and timely science-based commentary about wildfire management in our Northern New Mexico forests (“In challenging year for our forests, watch what works,” My View, May 1). It was timely because of some of the misinformation being disseminated about controlled burns and forest thinning in recent letters on that topic.

While there are certainly some valid concerns about controlled burns when proper planning is not addressed (something the U.S. Forest Service has the training and capacity to do), the advantages of controlled burning and forest thinning/fuel removal have been shown to benefit forest health and are an effective way to reduce the risk of massive wildfires. It’s an established science, and calling for further studies and environmental assessments only serves to delay and distract from needed action now, while also depleting the limited budget for carrying out those critical wildfire mitigation treatments. To see what other professionals are saying about the science of wildfire management, please Google: “pros and cons of controlled burning.” One of many examples is an article based on a PBS Nova program, easily found online by searching, “WGBH controlled fires.”

forest and rangeland sciences

Bryan Byrd’s column (“Traffic noise is shattering peace in city,” My View, May 2) points to a real problem, but his proposed solution (greater local enforcement) is inadequate. Given the lax (well, nonexistent) traffic enforcement in Santa Fe, especially on red lights — worse than anywhere I’ve lived, including New York City — it’s unrealistic to think the police will start monitoring sound levels. The real solution to megaphonic tailpipes is for the Legislature to join most of the rest of the states and require annual motor vehicle (including motorcycle) inspections, which would include a monitor of decibels. Inspections would also root out unroadworthy, dangerous vehicles and crack down on diesel pickups that have been illegally modified to spew maximum fumes into the air.

Every day, we read articles about climate change, pollution, the need to reduce emissions. The list goes on. And rightly so. These are some of the most pressing and important issues of our time. And every day, I wonder why only one county in New Mexico — Bernalillo — requires vehicle emissions testing. Before returning home to New Mexico and moving to Santa Fe, I lived in Boulder, Colo. There, as in most places in Colorado, vehicles are required to pass emissions testing before drivers can renew their vehicle registration. It’s a simple, quick and inexpensive ($15-$25) way to put an end to the ugly, stinky, black exhaust that is released daily into our New Mexican skies and into our New Mexican lungs. Whether getting stuck behind a vehicle whose tailpipe belches black exhaust upon revving up the engine, or walking down the street and being exposed to the noxious fumes, there is no excuse why it continues.

Altered mufflers are probably to blame for the supersized fumes, which are usually accompanied by supersized roars. Both are odious and disrespectful, both to our fellow citizens and to Mother Nature. As Bryan Bird pointed out (“Traffic noise is shattering peace in the city,” My View, May 1), the noise ordinance for motor vehicles should be enforced. And that enforcement should go hand in hand with emissions standards, which should also be enforced. The drag racers zooming up and down our streets at night might lose interest if their vehicles weren’t so raucous. These reductions would not only benefit our environment and human population, but they’d also benefit our animal friends, who also are exposed. Cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of emissions in this country. In addition to contributing to global warming, those emissions contribute to neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive and immune system damage. Keeping them within a legal acceptable range is prudent and necessary. There are 130 inspection stations in Bernalillo County. Those stations employ people, another benefit of emissions testing. Is there a reason why other counties, including Santa Fe County, don’t adopt (and enforce) such a reasonable, effective, inexpensive way to help keep our air, lungs and earbuds happier and healthier? If other areas around the United States can do it, so can we.

Thank you for the article by Robert Nott about dog trainers and doggy daycares (“From stay at home to ‘Stay!’ ” May 6). Everything is different post-COVID-19 isolation, but Santa Fe is such a dog-loving town that we can find and create resources. We have a local Dog Lovers Meetup group (meetup.com/SF-Dog-Lovers). It’s free. Any member can become an event organizer, and we’re only limited by our creativity. One member used to have a small-dog happy hour at the small-dog park by the animal shelter. Dog trainer David Crosby and I used to have a free monthly talk at the library about different training and well-being topics. Event organizers can create a meet and greet or a small group hike, and most importantly, members can meet one another and exchange dog sitting, teach, learn, have fun together and exchange resources.

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