16 – Manzanita (2002)

(This is a part of a series of gleanings from the history of CRC’s 30 years of work; additional posts available here.)

In March 2002, CRC commented on problems raised by the USFS proposal to control manzanita. Their plan was to eliminate 85% or more of the manzanita on 10 sites, covering 9,000 acres in the Chiricahua, Peloncillo, and Dragoon mountains. The proposal was very vague, lacking important details.

Eventually the funds needed to carry out this ill-conceived project were diverted to fight fires in the West, and the project was postponed.

Pointleaf Manzanita on the slope of Portal Peak, 21 March 2004 
(Photo by Narca Moore)

In December 2008, CRC once again confronted the Manzanita Mastication Specter, now called the Douglas Ranger District Habitat Improvement Project.

On January 9, 2009, on behalf of CRC, Dinah Davidson and Wynne Brown did a ground-truthing trip to Rucker and Price Canyons using the Forest Service’s barely legible map and found that almost nowhere could manzanita be safely removed because of the steep grade of the terrain. Several weeks later, on February 3, 2009, Noel Snyder (then CRC’s Acting President), Dinah, and Wynne met with District Ranger Bill Edwards and other members of the community. They then sent a letter February 22, 2009, summarizing CRC’s concerns and ending with:

“As a general view, we wonder if an alternative strategy of initiating regular prescribed burns in areas where brush is first greatly reduced by natural burns might deserve some consideration.  Is it possible that such a strategy, coupled with brush removal in high risk areas near structures, could represent a relatively safe approach and also result eventually in a return to a natural fire frequency regime at a landscape level without the need for widespread mastication efforts?”

Brown Elfin on its Manzanita host plant. Chiricahua National Monument, 31 March 2005
(Photo by Narca Moore)

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