The Sacramento District Review – September 2012

In this Month’s Issue:
Acorns
What is NEPA?
Smokey’s Birthday
Evening Lecture Series
The Ranger’s Report
Slash Pit Information
The Sacramento District Review is a monthly newsletter prepared by the Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest.


 

Acorns

-Katherine Sánchez Meador

Gambel Oak acorns during the summer.

If you are out hiking or enjoying the Sacramento Ranger District and pause to enjoy a beautiful spot with a fantastic view of the Tularosa Basin, you might just hear the soft sound of acorns falling on the forest floor.

Acorns, or oak nuts, are the fruit of oak trees and their close relatives (genera Quercus and Lithocarpus, in the family Fagaceae). Gamble Oak are usually found on the district above 7,000 ft. White Oak are found in our Piñyon-Juniper woodland zone, and some Gray Oak can be found in the Southwest corner of the district.

An acorn contains a single seed enclosed in a tough, leathery shell held in a cup-shaped cupule. Acorns vary in size from 1 to 6 cm long to 0.8 to 4 cm across and depending on the species take between 5 and 24 months to mature.

Acorns play an important role in forest ecology when oaks are the dominant species or are abundant. Wildlife that consumes acorns as an important part of their diet includes birds, small mammals, and large mammals such as bears and deer. Animals that cache acorns, such as birds and squirrels, may wait to eat some of their stash until sufficient water has percolated through them to leach out the tannins. Species of acorn that contain large amounts of tannins are very bitter, astringent, and potentially irritating if eaten raw.

Acorns mature and ripen as early as late August and continue ripening through December. The best time to collect acorns, either off the tree or from the ground, is when they begin falling. Acorns are perfect for harvesting when they are plump and the cap removes easily.

Mexican Canyon Trestle surrounded by oak in its fall splendor.

Acorns germinate on different schedules, depending on their place in the oak family. Once an acorn sprouts, it is less nutritious because the seed tissue converts to the lignins that form the root. If you want to grow an oak from an acorn, it is important to not allow the acorns to dry out for an extended period or heat up.

If you gather acorns keep them in the shade and in a breathable plastic bag with damp peat mix or sawdust. Close the bag loosely and store in the refrigerator at about 40 degrees. Check acorns throughout the winter and keep just barely damp.

When you are ready to plant your acorns choose the best looking acorns that are plump and rot-free and place them in loose potting soil in a one-gallon or larger container with holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Place acorns on their side at a depth of one half to one times the width of the acorn. Keep the soil moist but aerated and don’t let it freeze.

If possible, seedlings should be transplanted as soon as the first leaves open and become firm but before extensive root development occurs. The planting hole should be twice as wide and deep as the pot and root ball. Carefully remove the root ball. Gently set the root ball from the pot and set in the hole with the root crown at the same level as the soil surface. Fill the hole with soil, firmly tamp the soil and give it a good soak. Now enjoy watching your oak grow.


 

What is NEPA?

-Katherine Sánchez Meador

Have you ever wondered about the steps the Sacramento Ranger District takes to analyze a project? The main law that we must follow is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which was established in 1969 and established a national policy promoting the enhancement of the environment.

The essential purpose of NEPA is to ensure that environmental factors are weighted equally when compared to other factors in the decision making process undertaken by all federal agencies such as the USDA Forest Service. NEPA also allows for the public to comment and provide suggestions for projects.

The act established a multidisciplinary approach to considering environmental effects in decision making. NEPA is an action-forcing piece of legislation, meaning that the act itself does not carry any criminal or civil sanctions. All enforcement of NEPA is obtained through the process of the court system.

NEPA came into existence following an increased appreciation across the country for the environment. This included growing concerns about ecological and wildlife well-being.

An Eisenhower-era outdoor recreation report, the Wilderness Act, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, along with Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, all reflected the growing concerns, public interest group efforts, and legislative discussion involved.

Another major driver for enacting NEPA occurred in the 1960’s with the freeway revolts that occurred in response to the bulldozing of many communities and ecosystems around the U.S. as the Interstate Highway System was built.

The NEPA process begins when an agency develops a proposal to address a need to take an action. The process consists of an evaluation of relevant environmental effects of a project or action, including a series of possible alternatives.

Once a determination is made of whether or not the proposed action is covered under NEPA, there are three buy nexium in mexico levels of analysis that a federal agency may undertake to comply with the law.

These three levels of preparation include: a Categorical Exclusion (CE), an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI); or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).


The birds laugh loud and long together
When Fashion’s followers speed away
At the first cool breath of autumn weather.
Why, this is the time, cry the birds, to stay!
When the deep calm sea and the deep sky over
Both look their passion through sun-kissed space,
As a blue-eyed maid and her blue-eyed lover
Might each gaze into the other’s face.

 

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The End of Summer

 


 

Smokey’s Birthday

Saturday, August 11th the district hosted a 68th birthday party for our beloved Smokey Bear. Activities included a coloring contest, signing a BIG birthday card to Smokey, stamp art, wildfire prevention giveaways, and refreshments.

Guests sang Happy Birthday to Smokey and helped him blow out the candles on his very special cake. More than 260 children and adults met and took photos with Smokey.

Several visitors shared their memories and appreciation for Smokey and the wildfire prevention message he so proudly represents. The birthday party was a great success, and we look forward to many more!!


Evening Lecture Series

Our Evening Lecture Series had a great crowd on August 9th for a presentation on our area railroad history. The September Lecture Series topic is “Lifecycles of the Forest.”

Come join us to learn about the ecological succession of a forest. Learn about seral stages, dynamic and ever-changing ecosystems, and our area tree species. Please join us at the Sacramento Ranger District from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the district office, #4 Lost Lodge Road in Cloudcroft on September13th.
Upcoming Lecture Series dates: October 11th -‘How to take great wildlife photos’ For additional information please call 575-682-2551.


The Ranger’s Report

James Duran, District Ranger

The summer season has come to an end and thankfully we made it through the season with minimal restrictions on public uses within the Sacramento Ranger District.  Forest closure and fire restrictions have become a way of life during the current drought the Southwest and much of the country continues to experience. Thankfully, we all pitched in to prevent many fire ignitions from occurring.

I want to thank everyone who postponed their campfire experience in the best interest of safety and reducing the risk of manmade wildfires within our forest. The Lincoln National Forest is recognized by many as a place to enjoy and visit.  Recreational touring, sightseeing and camping on the district is one of the primary reason’s visitors are attracted to this area.  As I explored the district this field season, I met with visitors from all over the United States as well as international tourists who found their way here.

The concept of National Forest System lands available for the access and enjoyment by all United States citizens and visitors is a special thing. In many areas of our country, there are no areas to haul the camper or ATV to and many people find nothing but “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” posted in areas that would make great campsites or recreational areas.

The National Forest provides this experience and opportunity for America as a whole to maintain the opportunities to experience the outdoors.  As fall nears, many sportsmen from all over will take advantage of this opportunity and make their way here. The tourism that the Lincoln National Forest brings is valuable to the local economy, and I know that all business owners look forward to the tourism that comes with the seasons of use in the National Forest.

At the district office, visitation has sky-rocketed to more than one hundred visitors per day, ranging from hikers, hunters, bikers, sightseers, campers, family reunion goers, wildlife watchers, motorized vehicle operators, loggers, ranchers, wood haulers, Christmas tree scouters, and the list goes on.

It’s great to continuously witness the amount of joy that the National Forest brings to many Americans. Hearing the continuous “thank you” and “good job” really makes the duty of a public servant feel valued and appreciated.

 

Write a letter to the Ranger

If you’ve ever wondered about timber harvests, endangered species, off-road vehicle use, or other natural resource management topics, this is your opportunity to get your answer.  Individuals aspiring to acquire knowledge about the US Forest Service are encouraged to escape the fast pace world of technology and write a good old fashion letter to the Ranger.  If you would like to write a letter to James Duran, Sacramento District Ranger please mail it to:  P.O. Box 288, Cloudcroft, NM 88317.


Slash Pit Information

 

The slash pit is scheduled to be open September 1st and 8th from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. The slash pit is open to private landowners only. No contractors or commercial projects are allowed. The slash pit takes vegetation only, no construction materials, plastic, glass, rubber, metal, paper or trash.

Please use caution when entering and exiting the slash pit. Unload materials safely and leave room for others to unload. Public access is dependent upon the fuel load in the pit, weather conditions, fire restrictions/closures, and USDA Forest Service thinning and logging projects.
For information on the slash pit, please contact the Sacramento Ranger District at (575) 682-2551 or come by the office at 4 Lost Lodge Road off Highway 130, in Cloudcroft.