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Supervisor Martin Testifies on Carbon Soil Sequestration in Washington, DC

Supervisor Martin in Washington, DC

On Wednesday,June 25, 2014, Gila County Supervisor Tommie Cline Martin testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation oversight hearing, “Increasing Carbon Soil Sequestration on Public Lands.” 

Supervisor Martin joined three other witnesses - Steven Rich, President of the Rangeland Restoration Academy; Richard Teague, Associate Resident Director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research; and, John Wick, a rancher from Northern California with the Marin Carbon Project - testifying on how opening public lands to livestock could reduce levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and contribute to environmental improvement.

Plants pull carbon from the air and proponents of soil sequestration said during the hearing that grasslands have the ability to move it to their roots where it is ultimately stored in the soil. Letting livestock graze on larger areas prevents overgrazing in one spot and allows the growth of grasslands in their wake.

Supervisor Martin detailed the historical effectiveness of carbon soil sequestration, explaining that when her family originally settled in Gila County the woodland in the area could easily be grazed by cattle.  She shared that her grandmother, “Called it a pine savannah, but today, it’s a tree-brush thicket with little to no grass. She said there may have been 30 trees to the acre. Today, there’s up to 3,000.” 

Supervisor Martin also described the catastrophic wildfires that have plagued Arizona.  She concluded by stating, “There is immense potential to sequester vast amounts of carbon in the soils of the public grasslands and the public forest lands. Acting to increase carbon sequestration on forest lands increases a double carbon benefit. By improving forest health through the steps I have outlined here, we make it less likely that fires will occur, especially mega-fires. That means that the carbon currently locked away in the forests will not be released in these fires. At the same time, these healthier forests would also sequester much more carbon in the soil.”

(Reprinted with permission from County Supervisors Association (CSA) newsletter)

Supervisor Martin's Congressional Testimony June 25, 2014

Congressional Testimony of Steven H. Rich, June 25, 2014

Congressional Testimony of Dr. W. Richard Teague, June 25, 2014