NEW MEXICO — Santa Fe National Forest connected New Mexico to the world Aug. 25 when it hosted an international delegation that shared insights into public land management, conservation and youth engagement, and community input. The delegation included representatives from China, Turkey, Peru, Nigeria and Canada, and experiences in natural resource management ranging from forestry, to archaeology, zoology, heritage conservation and geotourism.
Forest Supervisor James Melonas welcomed the visitors and provided an overview of forest priorities, including revision of the Forest Plan and landscape-scale restoration projects. District Ranger Sandy Hurlocker provided a brief history of the Forest Service from its historic focus on timber, mining, and range to today’s priorities, including fire management.
The visitors shared some of the challenges of managing natural resources in their home countries. Dr. Joseph Onoja from Nigeria said people don’t understand the connection between “dry river beds and what’s happening upstream.” Xuan Liu recalled her childhood in China, saying, “I didn’t know nature growing up.” Her goal is to give children in China more opportunities to experience the natural world.
The delegation also had questions for forest employees about tribal relations and the sharing of forest resources, incident management teams and disaster response, and conservation education. Employees stressed the importance of collaboration and partnership with local communities and other stakeholders. One of the most important things we can do is “be good listeners,” Hurlocker said.
The delegate’s trip was sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.