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Agency officials OK restoration plan for forest, grasslands

July 31, 2021 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service officials in New Mexico have approved a plan for restoration of wetlands and areas along waterways in the Carson, Cibola and Santa Fe national forests and the Kiowa National Grasslandx.

The plan is intended to enhance wildlife habitat, watershed health and water quality while countering impacts of climate change, wildfires, grazing, urbanization, recreation and invasive species, the Santa Fe new Mexican reported.

Riparian zones support biodiversity by providing nesting habitat, migration corridors and shelter from life-imperiling threats, officials said.

The approval enables Forest Service officials to implement various projects, include ones to plant riparian vegetation, relocate or close certain roads and trails and restore channels, springs and seeps.

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“Riparian restoration will provide quality wildlife habitat and help secure sustainable sources of clean water for New Mexico,” said Cibola National Forest Supervisor Steve Hattenbach.

Two conservation groups had opposing views of the plan’s approval.

A Defenders of Wildlife official said approval of the plan provides a path to address “depleted conditions” of streams and rivers on federal lands while a Center for Biological Diversity official said the plan failed to address extensive damage from agriculture.