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Dr. K. Norman Johnson, Chair

Oregon State University

 

Dr. James Agee

University of Washington

 

Dr. Robert Beschta

Oregon State University

 

Dr. Virginia Dale

Oak Ridge National Lab.

Oak Ridge, TN

 

Dr. Linda Hardesty

Washington State Univ.

 

Dr. James Long

Utah State University

 

Dr. Larry Nielsen

Pennsylvania State Univ.

 

Dr. Barry Noon

Colorado State University

 

Dr. Roger Sedjo

Resources for the Future

Washington, D.C.

 

Dr. Margaret Shannon

Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs

Syracuse, NY

 

Dr. Ronald Trosper

Northern Arizona Univ.

 

Charles Wilkinson

University of Colorado

 

Dr. Julia Wondolleck

University of Michigan

 

MEMORANDUM

 

DATE: January 1, 1998

 

TO: The Committee of Scientists (to review the Forest Service’s Land and Resource Management Planning Process)

 

FROM: K. Norman Johnson, Committee Chair

 

SUBJECT: December 19, 1997 Committee Meeting Notes

 

Enclosed are the notes from the first meeting of the Committee of Scientists Federal Advisory Committee held December 19, in Chicago, Illinois. Subsequent meetings are planned for January 22-23 in Denver, Colorado; February 12-13 in Seattle, Washington; and February 24-25 in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, other meeting dates were discussed as noted at the end of this memo. Times and places will be announced in the Federal Register.

 

The purpose of the meeting on December 19 was to launch the Committee, review the Charter, receive preliminary direction, and agree on a schedule of meetings. The public was invited to attend and submit written comments, however participation was limited to Committee members and invited speakers.

 

Enclosed you will find:

Attendance from December 19, 1997

Meeting minutes

Meeting schedule

Potential agenda for January 22-23, 1998

 

Thank you for your participation in the meeting.

 

ATTENDANCE

DECEMBER 19, 1997, CHICAGO

 

COMMITTEE OF SCIENTISTS

Dr. Norm Johnson, Chair

Dr. Jim Agee

Dr. Bob Beschta

Dr. Virginia Dale

Dr. Linda Hardesty

Dr. Jim Long

Dr. Larry Nielsen

Dr. Barry Noon

Dr. Roger Sedjo

Dr. Margaret Shannon

Dr. Ron Trosper

Charles Wilkinson, Prof. of Law

Dr. Julia Wondolleck

Bob Cunningham, Designated Federal Official

 

Speakers

Jim Lyons, Under Secretary of Agriculture

Brooks Preston, Dept. Agriculture

Mike Dombeck, U.S.Forest Service Chief

Chris Risbrudt, USFS

Mike Gippert, Office of General Council (OGC)

 

Committee Staff Support

Harriet Plumley, USFS

Ann Carlson, USFS

Jonathan Stephens, USFS

Joanne Hildreth, USFS

Vince Vukelich, OGC

Leslie Auriemmo, OGC

 

Audience

Al Ferlo, USFS

Cara Nelson, Nat. Res. Defense Council

Nadine Bailey, Timber Producers Assoc.

Mary Munson, Defenders of Wildlife

Michael Freeman, Reg. Assoc. Concerned Environmentalists

Mike Gentleman

Paul Friesema, Northwestern Univ.

Tregan Trepanier, The Greens

 

 

Overview of the Committee Of Scientists (COS) Assignment

by James Lyons, Under Secretary of Agriculture

Jim Lyons, Under Secretary for Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Agriculture, gave the COS an overview of its assignment, with the help of Brooks Preston, his assistant. Under Secretary Lyons gave a short speech covering his views which will be placed on the public record, will appear on the COS web page, and will be distributed with these meeting notes. In that speech, Under Secretary Lyons emphasized the COS charge is to "review the present forest planning process as well as proposed revisions to the current regulations, and to recommend improvements to guide the development of future land and resource management plans. The Charter is clear that the Committee is to work within the context of existing law." He also covered the many changes that have occurred since the regulations were last revised, and stressed the need to bring the regulations in line with new concepts of ecosystem management.

Under Secretary Lyons said, "New science, new technology, and a reviewed emphasis on seeking greater involvement on the part of the public and other agencies in the planning process warrant a new look at how we go about planning the management of the national forests. This is the Committee’s charge." He further stated that he wanted the COS to be bold and creative in its thinking, and stressed the importance for the planning processes of the future to be "more user friendly, more interactive, more responsive to changing information, and more affordable."

Future Focus of the Forest Service

by Chief Mike Dombeck

Chief Dombeck also spoke at the 12/19/97 meeting; we have summarized his remarks below.

Overview

The Forest Service is going through a period of changing expectations for our National Forests. The public is demanding to be more involved in the decisions about these forests.

We need to work within the limits of the land to preserve options. Our first priority is to protect and restore the health of the land. Resource conditions are improving in many parts of the country. We need to concentrate on what we leave on the land and less on what we take from it.

To help improve accountability, we need (and will have) clearly-defined performance measures based on resource conditions to help us gauge how the National Forests are progressing toward the goals of management. Performance measures will be needed to assess trends such as those in water quality, soil stability and watershed condition, riparian condition, management of fire-dependent landscapes, and noxious weed management. These measures should help communities to understand the need for a focus on land health, be in terms they can understand, and relate to the American people.

The Need for Improvements in Land and Resource Planning

We must be ready for the next giant step in forest management planning.

Plans should be built around what people want, measured in ways people understand.

Planning seems to have become almost an end in itself; it should be simplified in order to devote more organizational energies to implementation, monitoring, and management.

The COS must avoid writing in ways that only other scientists can understand. If need be, the Chief will hire a writer to develop a straightforward version of ideas in the COS report.

In reviewing planning, the COS needs to address both the process and substance, e.g. we need to understand how to measure and ensure sustainability and forest health.

The link between forest planning and the appropriations process needs attention.

It is important that the COS help establish a framework for planning. What do we want? How do we get there? How do we tell how we are doing?

Review of the Charter

The Chair led the COS through a review of its Charter. Two key clauses in the charter that define the task before the COS are: 1) "The purpose of this advisory committee is to provide scientific and technical advice to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service on improvements that can be made in the National Forest System Land and Resource Management planning process." and 2) " In its report, the Committee shall make recommendations on how best to accomplish sound resource planning within the established framework of environmental laws and within the statutory mission of the Forest Service. The Committee shall provide technical advice on the land and resource management planning process, and material for the Forest Service to consider for incorporation into the revised planning regulations. The Committee shall recommend improvements in Forest Service coordination with other federal land management or resource protection agencies, state and local government agencies, and tribal governments, while recognizing the unique roles and responsibilities of each in the planning process."

Relative to the completion date for the Committee’s work, the Charter states that "The Committee shall produce and deliver its report four months from its initial meeting, unless additional time is needed." Under Secretary Lyons said that he hoped the Committee’s report to the Forest Service could be finished by Spring (April/May) 1998. A summary report for the public may be developed by a professional writer after the Committee submits its report.

Review of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)

Jonathan Stephens, USFS, led a discussion of FACA,

assisted by: Errol Meidinger, Univ. of Buffalo Law School (by phone),

Mike Gippert, Office of General Council, USDA, and

Vince Vukelich, Office of General Council.

All meetings must be announced at least 15 days in advance in the Federal Register. It takes 3-4 working days to get information published.

The Designated Federal Official (DFO), Bob Cunningham, is responsible for attending all Committee meetings, ensuring public participation, approving meeting agendas and minutes, and coordinating a Forest Service response to Committee recommendations. Bob will be in the office of the Deputy Chief for the National Forest System for the duration of the Committee’s Charter, phone 202-205-2494, FAX 202-205-1758.

Committee Operational Processes

A brief discussion occurred about Committee operation processes. The Chair will bring a proposed set of operational processes to the January meeting.

A Committee of Scientists web site has been established at Oregon State University, in Corvallis, Oregon, in order to enable people across the country to keep track of the COS process and offer suggestions. This Web site supplements two locations where all records will be kept for public inspection.

Meeting Schedule

Meeting 1 - December 19, 1997; Location: Chigaco

Meeting 2 - January 22-23, 1998; Location: Denver (Region 2)

Meeting 3 - February 12-13, 1998; Location: Seattle (Region 6)

Meeting 4 - February 24-25, 1998; Location: Atlanta (Region 8)

Meeting 5 - March 3-5, 1998; Location: To be selected

Meeting 6 - March 31 - April 1 ; 1998; Location: To be selected

Meeting 7 - April 14-15, 1998; Location: To be selected

Meeting 8 - April 22-23, 1998; Location: To be selected

Potential Agenda for January 22-23, 1998

Allow time for Committee member to share key issues.

Obtain historical view of NFMA and evolution of the regulations and of the role of the Committee of Scientists.

Begin developing a set of scientific principles that will provide a useful framework for suggesting improvements in the land and resource management planning process of the Forest Service.

Discuss draft of a Work Plan.

 

END OF MEETING NOTES