White Paper
presented to Governor Richardson as
background for 11-12-04 meeting


CREATION OF A NEW STATE PROGRAM FOR ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES IN NEW MEXICO'S RURAL COMMUNITIES AND TRIBES USING FOREST THINNINGS AND OTHER
"LOW VALUE" AND "WASTE" BIOMASS

Prepared by Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM; Agronomy and Horticulture Dept. and Mora Research Station, New Mexico State University; Energy Mineral and Natural Resources Dept, State Forestry Division

November 2004

Mission

To provide economic, social and environmental benefits to rural communities and tribes in New Mexico optimizing use of natural resources based on sound science and ecological principles.

Goals

Optimize the use of natural resources, including biomass from small diameter, invasive non-native and other low value "waste" trees within the state, based on sound science for integrated economic and social benefit and environmental regeneration of disturbed ecosystems, forests, rangelands and agriculture using the science-based ZERI* and other natural, system-based methods and principles to achieve said goals.

Objectives

Work with diverse, local communities, Native American tribes and interested organizations to create a program for a long term natural resources "bank" of the state's native beneficial fungi and microorganisms. The program will improve and restore forest, rangeland and agricultural lands and lead to the creation of new value added products and economic opportunities using "waste" biomass from small diameter forest (ponderosa, pi´┐Żon, juniper, fir) thinnings and other "low value" or problematic tree biomass (salt cedar, Russian olive, Siberian elm, pecan thinning), to:

(1) create value added products such as native, edible mushrooms, nutritious feed supplement for cattle and other ruminants, and a rich soil amendment product to increase healthy soils and reduce erosion in forests, rangelands and agricultural areas,

(2) create new jobs and expand existing ones or create new small businesses in rural communities and tribes based on these products and activities;

(3) improve social conditions in rural communities and tribes through increased economic activity using what was otherwise considered "low value" or biomass "wastes" from tree thinning projects throughout the state;

(4) restore forest ecosystem function using spent substrate from mushroom and mycelium production and "waste" tree branches from thinned areas to create new humus, reduce erosion, grow more native mushrooms for harvesting, create decomposed mushroom substrate for wildlife feed, maintain moisture in soils to enhance activity of beneficial soil micro organisms, particularly in places disrupted and eroded by thinning activities in and near thinned forests and watershed areas;

(5) restore and regenerate rangelands and agricultural lands using the beneficial organisms, starting with native fungi and later to include beneficial bacteria and algae, in the culture bank and thereby strengthen native plant diversity, ecosystems, soils and increasing productivity and longevity of these activities.

Gov. Richardson, State Forester Butch Blazer, EMNR's Sally Rodgers, SCZ's Lynda Taylor, SCZ's Will and Janette Fischer, and NMSU's John Mexal.

Program

New Mexico State University, through the Dept. of Agronomy and Horticulture and its extension, the Mora Research Station, in conjunction with Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Dept.'s State Forestry Division (State Forestry) - with formal collaboration with Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM and Picuris Pueblo who have spearheaded the effort to date - will establish a new state program to institutionalize the genetic preservation and utilization of the state's important natural "beneficial organisms."

The new program will be housed and operated out of NMSU, Las Cruces as well as in the Mora Research Station. It will be referred for purposes of this paper as the "NM Biologic Resource Bank". A new position with Agronomy and Horticulture Dept. at NMSU will be created which will include a State Microbiologist/Biologist with one field associate, one full time associate at the Mora Research Station, NMSU, for closer proximity to northern forests and communities, and a full time associate at State Forestry to assist with the collection and application of the beneficial fungi and microorganisms to the state's annual sales of 600,000 tree seedlings prior to transplanting for reforestation programs throughout New Mexico's forests.

NMSU will name a State Microbiologist/Biologist to run this program with a formal collaboration that includes NMSU, State Forestry, Picuris Pueblo and Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM. NMSU, through the State Microbiologist/Biologist and in collaboration with its collaborative partners, will direct the gathering, mapping of geographical locations (GPS), identification, culturing, preserving, testing, distribution and monitoring of the uses of the beneficial organisms. These beneficial micro organisms will help create healthy soils and forests as well as rangelands and agricultural areas and make them less prone to pests and drought, and will have economic, social and environmental benefits for the rural communities and tribes throughout New Mexico through increased marketable products generated. This NMSU program will utilize the network of its Cooperative Extension Service county agents and its collaborators to work directly with rural communities and assist with on-site training in the collection, use and value added economic opportunities from the Biological Resource Bank. Furthermore, follow-up consultations will be made on request.

Sustainable Communities, Picuris Pueblo, NMSU Dept. of Agronomy and Horticulture and its Mora Research Station extension, and State Forestry will collaborate on a request to the 2005 Legislature for support of this program with a general fund appropriations in the total amount of $348,000.

Funding details include:

DESCRIPTION AND ROLE OF PARTNERS

1. SCZ

Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM (SCZ) is a 50lc3 non profit which works to halt poverty and environmental degradation and simultaneously provide local economic opportunities that strengthen culture and address social needs. (www.scizerinm.org). We use a ZERI inspired science based, natural systems approach that shifts the way people see, care for and use natural resources. Global ZERI Network was founded by and is directed by Gunter Pauli. It is a Swiss-based international non profit founded in 1994 that has worked with the United Nations (www.zeri.org). It is a network of scientists, community leaders, businesspeople, government officials and educators which employ systems-thinking inspired by nature in project designs. As a member of that network, SCZ works to change the way people think about "wastes" and promotes using all "waste" to create additional value added economic opportunities while simultaneously preserving and enhancing the environment. We believe you cannot force nature to produce more; we must do more with what nature provides. Lynda Taylor and Robert Haspel are Co-Directors.

Role: SCZ received a grant from the U.S. Forest Service Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, to partner with Picuris and others to use small diameter thinned trees from high risk fire areas to create a natural wood charcoal product, using the fumes to preserve untreated wood naturally, using the branches of the thinned trees to grow edible native mushrooms, create a ruminant animal feed with the mushroom substrate and use the substrate in forest restoration activities. All of the products (charcoal, preserved wood, edible fungi, animal feed, new soil humus, etc. will be tested under SCZ grant prior to development of a business plan and market analysis for replicating this project in other areas where there are "waste" trees from small diameter and other types of biomass. SCZ wants to ensure that the federal USFS grant monies are leveraged to use the results of its demonstration pilot projects towards institutionalization and commercialization of new products for rural communities. SCZ also assisted State Forestry and Picuris Pueblo in obtaining capital outlay funds during the 2004 Legislature for equipment for the Pueblo to implement the economic opportunities presented under the pilot project.

2. NMSU, DEPT. OF AGRONOMY AND HORTICULTURE New Mexico State University is the land grant institution in the state of New Mexico, and the only Hispanic Serving Institute that is also a land grant university in the US. The College of Agriculture and Home Economics consists of the academic programs on campus, the Agriculture Experiment Station (research arm of the college), and the Cooperative Extension Service (outreach and continuing education arm of the college). The Cooperative Extension Service has offices in all counties of the state, as well as, offices with several Native American tribes. These county agents work with both research and extension specialists to provide county residents with appropriate technology to improve and sustain agriculture enterprises. The Agriculture Experiment Station has off-campus research stations at ten locations, including the Mora Research Center and the Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center. These research centers conduct applied research appropriate to the region of the state and the research mission of the center. The Department of Agronomy and Horticulture has teaching and research faculty that serve the regional and state needs in agronomy, horticulture, plant breeding, and natural resource management. The faculty serve as a resource for both cooperative research at the Ag Science Centers and as expertise for county training programs. John Mexal, PhD at NMSU Las Cruces will head up this program.

Role: The State Microbiologist/Biologist will be housed at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. This position will be responsible for collecting, cataloging, and maintaining and making available for economic and restoration opportunities the cultures of native, beneficial microorganisms for forest, rangeland and agriculture activities. This position will work with the Mora Research Station, State Forestry, Picuris Pueblo, SCI/ZERI-NM, and other entities to collect specimens, provide inoculum and training for the use of beneficial microorganisms for mushroom and animal feed production, other economic opportunities, and forest, rangeland and agriculture regeneration.

3. NMSU, MORA RESEARCH EXTENSION The Mora Research Station is part of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University. The mission of the station is to provide research and outreach in support of forest management, reclamation, forest restoration, and Christmas tree production.

Role: The MRC will provide facilities for the northern collection repository. The MRC has a long history of working with State Forestry, and will continue to support and collaborate with State Forestry as part of the program.

4. PICURIS PUEBLO. Is a formal collaborative partner with SCZ in the US Forest Service CFRP grant to create value added products from small diameter tree "wastes". After a successful pilot operation, the Pueblo has decided to commercialize the process and is the recipient of capital outlay funds from the 2004 State Legislature to assist with this goal which includes purchase of charcoal/wood preservation ovens, transportation equipment, and a fungi/beneficial culture bank to be housed and operated by NMSU by agreement with Picuris Pueblo.

Role: Will be the first partner to use the cultured fungi and other micro organisms in the creation of value added products such as mushroom production, animal feed for their Bison herd and wildlife, and restoration of their thinned forested lands and later the rangelands and agricultural areas.

5. STATE FORESTRY, ENERGY, MINERALS AND NATURAL RESOURCES DEPT.

State Forestry Division is interested in a staff person to assist with the state tree seedling and planting program for forest restoration projects throughout the state. More than 600,000 seedlings are grown (most in southern Colorado), sold and planted as part of this program.

Role: A new staff person for this program at State Forestry would be responsible for training and overseeing state forestry personnel in the identification and collection of native fungi from a variety of forest types and geographic areas as part of their existing work in the field. The fungi will be cultured by NMSU and "banked" and beneficial fungi for forest health will be used by State Forestry to inoculate the seedlings prior to planting to ensure greater success of planting and increasing the overall health of the areas reforested with the seedlings. Additionally, state foresters will work with local landowners to increase the health of their forested lands as well as assist in the use of native fungi for growing on "waste" biomass for edible mushroom production, creation of animal feed supplement for ruminants both domestic and wildlife, and for restoration of impacted and eroded lands and watersheds.


*ZERI's methodology, developed by Gunter Pauli, is rooted in an understanding of the five kingdoms of nature (plants, animals, fungi, algae and bacteria) that interact through the following design principles: (1) no species in one kingdom eats its own waste; (2) waste of one kingdom will be a nutrient or neutral to another kingdom; (3) the more locally you work, using locally available resources, and the more diverse the system (ecosystem, culture, community), the stronger and healthier the system (including the ability to regenerate). This natural systems-based approach assists in designing projects inspired by how nature works and how to optimize the benefits from our natural resources without wasting anything, causing pollution, degrading the natural resource base or introducing harmful or toxic elements and working in a way that regenerates the total system. These principles can be applied to any type of activity whether land-based or industrial.

Re March '04 Workshop for State Agencies.

2004 - 5 legislative efforts.


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