ESRI Conservation Program: GIS Stories from the field

. Forest Guardians


Forest Guardians, Santa Fe NM c96 Forest Guardians is leading the fight to protect and restore the forests, rivers, grasslands and wilderness of the Southwest.Years of grassroots efforts to map forests, riparian zones, wildlife habitat, and vegetation communities in the Southwest, have resulted in an extensive collection of both hardcopy and digital layers at various scales. This information has been extremely valuable to activists and organizations working to stop destructive practices and develop a vision of land management that is both long range and science-based. Much of this map information will be available either as an on-line resource or through Forest Guardians, for a reasonable fee.

A century of unregulated mining, logging, grazing, dam construction - and economic development focused solely on growth, corporate profits and urbanization - are depleting our life support system.

GIS Capacity: Forest Guardians has obtained full GIS (Geographic Information System) capability, due to the generosity of ESRI Inc., Hewlett-Packard and the Conservation Technology Support program. We are presently using both ArcView and ArcInfo on the workstation and PC platforms to support appeals and litigation, as well as guide our proactive conservation planning work.

Years of grassroots efforts to map forests, riparian zones, wildlife habitat, and vegetation communities in the Southwest, have resulted in an extensive collection of both hardcopy and digital layers at various scales. This information has been extremely valuable to activists and organizations working to stop destructive practices and develop a vision of land management that is both long range and science-based. (Full size Gila-Sky Island map: 677kb)

Much of this map information will be available either as an on-line resource or through Forest Guardians, for a reasonable fee.

This site lists many of our electronic and hard copy maps, including information on purchasing and using these map products. (Full size Forest Zones map: 128kb)

SOUTHWESTERN WILDLANDS INITIATIVE: Forest Guardians is coordinating an alliance of over 25 scientific, community and environmental organizations, working in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Northern Mexico. .The goal of this alliance is to develop map-based wildlands recovery strategies for each of the Southwest's ecological provinces..The SWI has been created to harmonize existing grassroots efforts to protect forests, rivers, deserts and grasslands, within a scientific framework. (Full size Old Growth map: 363kb)..We apply principles of conservation biology and ecosystem management that have been ignored for too long by natural resource agencies. As our understanding of the ecological impacts of livestock grazing in the arid west has evolved, a compromise that once seemed expedient is, today, an anachronism. In addition, even though the environmental community compromised on wilderness ranching, we have gained nothing in return. Today, the ranching community is leading the fight to dismantle the Endangered Species Act and opposes all additions to the National Wilderness System. ..."Impacts of long term overgrazing has deteriorated the ecosystems such that biodiversity and productivity in both riparian and uplands are 20% of potential." --U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region. Wilderness Report 1995 . (Full size Wildlands map: 79kb)

Cleaning Dirty Waters: The Rio Grande, Pecos, San Juan, San Francisco and Gila watersheds - as well as a dozen streams that supply drinking water to towns and cities - are targeted for clean up as a result of a Forest Guardians lawsuit. Within the next decade, a detailed water quality restoration plan and pollution limits for each of these critical watersheds will be in place. Setting pollution standards for each of these rivers will help protect drinking water supplies and imperiled aquatic species.(Full size Aquatic map: 133kb)

Streams are the arteries of life in the arid Southwest. Today these once biologically rich areas are in the "worst shape in history," according to the EPA, the result of being clogged with cattle for a century or more. The cottonwood/willow gallery forest has declined by an estimated 95% from pre-settlement times.

River forests provide clean water and critical wildlife habitat despite making up only 1% of the arid southwest. They help prevent floods, filter sediments, and meter out water in times of drought. Healthy streamside woodlands are highly valued by recreationists, who are attracted to the cool shade, clean water, diverse wildlife, and scenery.

Streamside areas are also centers of biodiversity. 75% of all our endangered wildlife depend upon healthy streams and remnant river forests. The Gila and Apache trout, the Southwest willow flycatcher and the Meadow jumping mouse are just a few of the southwest's endangered wildlife dependent upon healthy streams and stream side forests.

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Text and graphics: Forest Guardians
January 2, 1997 , Forest Guardians 1413 Second St., Suite 1 Santa Fe, NM 87505, tel: 505-988-9126 , email: swwild@fguardians.org

Web layout & design: ESRI Conservation Program, January 2, 1996

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