MARCH 3-5, 1998, SACRAMENTO
USFS Region 5 (Pacific Southwest) Presentation
Jody Cook - Acting Deputy Regional Forester
Gave an overview of Region 5, including the six river basins: San Joaquin, North Coast, Lahontan, Sacramento Valley, Central Coast, and South Coast.
Juan Palma, Forest Supervisor Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
Talked about the Forest engaging local communities at the project level, e.g. on fire risk. Projects take place in a "sea of humanity" where collaboration is critical. Collaboration costs a little more than old method of scoping, and takes a little more time. Hired a local person to coordinate "neighborhood captains." Held meetings at local fire houses (safe locations) where boards help invite community members. Described meeting with the Washa Tribe in a restaurant for dinner. Juan Palma asked the Tribe, farmers, teachers, climbers, etc. what the proposal should look like; did not start with a proposal. Doing a watershed analysis for the entire Lake Tahoe Basin; working with state, counties, Tribes - avoid separate plans.
Sharon Heywood, Forest Supervisor, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
The current regulations allowed for the Northwest Forest Plan. Science-based planning is like beginning with the end in mind (referenced Stephen Covey). Adaptive management must be codified. Budget for plans. NW Forest Plan is flexible and has lots of ambiguity - leaves a large amount of analysis at the implementation level. Pushes us to manage to the mean, taking little risk. This leaves us vulnerable to the issue of not doing what is best for the land.
Mike Rogers, Forest Supervisor, Angeles National Forest
The Angeles very much has an urban focus. There are 35 million people in California, and 24 million of them are in the area of the southern four national forests (Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, Cleveland). The Angeles was the first national forest in the state. Its purpose was to secure a water supply by excluding fire and solving the flood problem in southern California. In 1922, water came from Mono and Inyo Counties; by 1930, water also came from the Colorado River. In 1938, the most catastrophic flooding of the century occurred and the local rivers were channelized in concrete. By the 1980ís, Mono and Inyo Counties filed a lawsuit over their water, as did Arizona over the Colorado River water supply. Resulted in the CALFED effort. Now greater reliance on local water supply. The Angeles NF provides 40% of the water to Los Angeles area. Growth is constrained by water supply. The southern California National Forests are not commodity producers, and therefore get small budgets to work with. L.A. is the most diverse city in the world, and problems increase while budgets are small. Trying new partnerships to deal with problems: Opportunity LA puts out-of-work people into USFS jobs to gain skills, Greening of LA puts trees into parks and open space, Greenlink is a national program that garners $150,000 per year plus partners. The City and County of LA have layers of complicated plans. Little environmental education. Urban issues are not recognized in current level of financing and planning.
Kent Connaughton, Forest Supervisor, Lassen National Forest
The Sacramento Valley contributes water and recreation. The Quincy Library Group (QLG) has brought the principle of collaboration to contemporary government. Process starts with conditions of the local landscape. Need to identify that their forest is a fire-adapted ecosystem with great human influence. A plan should not be a collection of stuff; should provide a forum for issues to play themselves out.
Quincy Library Group
Linda Blum, Quincy Library Group
The Quincy Library Group (QLG) developed an alternative to the Plumas Forest Plan. It was time for a Plan revision because of drought and fire suppression. Citizens wanted to play a role in the planning process and to bring science into the arena. They became experts in "barrierology." USFS wanted to have QLG wait until the California Owl EIS process to incorporate input. QLG felt time for a revision couldnít wait.
Michael Jackson, Quincy Library Group
Mr. Jackson introduced himself as an environmental lawyer with a water and salmon specialty. You canít protect fish without dealing with fire protection. Two major threats: 1) overstocked, fire-prone stands, and 2) over-logged Sierra. Neighbors, many who have been loggers for generations, understand the QLG alternative. It was meant as a way for the USFS to respond to new information. But the USFS had no money for a revision. The current allowable sale quantity does not reflect reality - it is too high. The area has a relatively short fire cycle; it is not possible to burn as much as necessary in the Plumas Valley. The QLG alternative retains trees greater than 30 inches, and keeps 40% of the land base out of harvest. Thinning should start in a strategic fire pattern. Need to develop a program that operates at a fast enough pace to deal with fire problems.
Louis Blumberg - The Wilderness Society
(A detractor of the Quincy Library Group)
QLG is opposed by grassroots groups in the Sierra Nevada. Should be more responsive to local input. Has the USFS abdicated their leadership role completely? QLG circumvents other analysis and public participation. USFS should do an amendment with: 1) the public present, 2) on a scale based on economy, 3) science, 4) reallocation of funds regionally, and 5) accountability.
Jack Shipley, Applegate Partnership
The Applegate Partnership operates in a 500,000 acre watershed, 70% federal USFS/BLM lands. They are five years old and meet weekly. Their vision is to encourage use of natural resource principles to promote ecosystem health and diversity. They are talking about results on the ground. Concerned about larger trees unable to compete with dense understory. It is easy to take the timber and leave a fire/ecology problem. The USFS embarked on the exclusion of fire 80 years ago. The Partnership, with a staff of five, has done projects with $100,000 from state lottery funds and the Governorís Watershed Enhancement Board funds. Planted 50,000 trees, started "The Applegater" newsletter. Worked with a feedlot owner to improve an anadromous stream. They made mistakes, adapted, and learned. They have a partnership agreement with the USFS to do an environmental assessment. A proposed sale quantity (PSQ) is an inappropriate driver for ecosystem management; should be a by-product. Land allocations are not conducive to ecosystem management, nor are individual forest plans.
Su Rolle, Federal Liaison to Applegate Partnership
The Partnership faced the challenge of getting full participation; tried to get nature organizations, scientists, citizens, and management agencies working together. Needed assessments and maps to cross land ownerships. They have the most integrated data in the Northwest. They have no checkpoints for public involvement - the entire process has to be totally transparent. Partnerships and collaboration change with the landscape - there is no prescriptive approach.
NEPA Overview, Bob Cunningham
Summarized key points of the process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The federal government invests between 2 and 2.5 billion dollars per year in planning activities related to NEPA. A clear purpose and need for a federal action is the most critical element in strategic planning and plan adoption. Clarity and gaining consensus early in the development of a project can reduce the need for detailed documentation. NEPA is enforced by other laws with similar requirements. A technical challenge exists of spending 77% of our time trying to do analysis under a negative hypothesis - that of no significant impact.
Public Comment Period
Fourteen members of the public spoke to the Committee for five minutes each. These individuals then formed an impromptu panel and answered questions from the committee for approximately one hour.
Dennis Machida - Director, Lake Tahoe Basin Project
In this basin, 85% of the rivers are degraded - a very stressed ecosystem. The degradation occurred over two decades -- the 1960ís - 1980ís. Has the largest ski basin in the U.S. The population in the area is increasing at a rapid rate. Primary strategies: 1) research and monitoring (Dr. Charles Goldman, UC Davis); 2) regional government covering two states, five counties, and many cities. Congress required adoption of regional qualitative resource standards. Thresholds based on restoring the landscape. Massive restoration is required; funding has reached $300 million over the last few years. They have had 23 public meetings over two years on a one-acre project (lots of public involvement even on small-scall projects). They are in control of their own project, have funding, and are building trust. USFS needs to trust the process and be trained in it. The top six inches of the lake provide for water supplies. All sewage is now pumped out; it used to go into the lake. People have a sense of place about Tahoe - it is as much about poetry as science. Despite restoration efforts, water quality continues to decline each year. The goals are: clear, blue water (stop water quality decline); restore 300 acre shoreline, move people in and out of the basin without cars (air quality increased so can see across the lake); prescribed burning in forests; cutthroat trout, bald eagles; healthy economy.
Discussed agendas for Boston - Region 9; Albuquerque - Region 3, Tribes, contemporary issues, grazing, water, field trip; and Missoula - Regions 1 & 4, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Bolle Report, grazing, field trip.
Concerns about understanding of ecosystems and their management. Ecosystems can be described as machines, and people can not make them produce beyond their capabilities. Could define ecosystem constraints first, then take the social and political process from there. Establishing knowledge that we operate within defined constraints would help establish an understanding that resources are finite. Ecosystems are nondeterministic, chaotic, and nonlinear - paradigm of the controlled forest (mere assumption of control).
The concept of "backward mapping" was discussed. Start the planning process at the lowest point of implementation - with specific actions on the ground. Providing discretion at the lowest level gives the ability to make choices and "place-based" decisions. Then follow that process up to broader requirements.
Discussion around the assumption of interest - when the publicís levels of knowledge, ability, and interest are variable, how can we engage them without diluting ecological issues.
Two questions to start COS discussion: 1) Looking back from 20 years into the future, what would you like the Committee to have accomplished? 2) To reach its goal, what are the key things we need to accomplish in the next month, and how should we organize to do it?
Answers to question 1:
Answers to question 2:
1) Context with environment
2) Focus - looking to future - scales, etc.
4) Objectives of process - build understanding
What do we know - identify our own knowledge, insights, gaps, and literature.
1. NEPA - opportunity to link NEPA differently to planning.
2. Public participation.
3. Backward mapping.
4. Broadscale assessments.
5. Deal with relationships with science.
1) Define what a plan should be - explanation and criteria.
2) Plan clear, concise statement of conservation priorities and a map to realization.
3) Criteria - who, what, where, when.
1) To account for unknowns: acknowledge uncertainty, cumulative effects, and preserve options.
2) To be successful: dynamic, flexible, integrative, accountable (provide reasonable certainty with simplicity and timelines).
3) To utilize information effectively: incorporate feedback mechanisms, have coordinated data collections, include a monitoring component, tie to credible assessments.
4) To attain goals/expectations: uphold laws, have multiple goals, create improvements on land, focus on what is left, include a production component, sustainable, cost-effective and efficient (follow Applegate criteria: ecologically credible, aesthetically acceptable, economically feasible).
Scale does not allow us to move on to new resources because they have all been exploited. Donít have the luxury of risking intergenerational ..... Have no new territory to move on to; canít take big risks. A new role for scientists - build public buy-in. With three areas: 1) allowable activities, 2) divergent interests, and 3) areas we all have in common - the overlap area is a constrained decision space. With education up front, decision space increases. Going beyond the common space has a high cost. There is tremendous consensus in the scientific community on what the ecological problems are and where they are human-caused.
Reviewed Barry Noonís paper -
Look at the process of assigning different models of how ecological processes work. While ensuring viability is impossible to attain, the viability concept is important. Diversity and viability requirements are inseparable. The "draft" 98 regulations do not mention viability at all. Deleting some specific species from a community would have a disproportionate effect on that community. Not all species are equal. Concept of focal species. Can monitor habitat on a landscape or finer scale. With remote sensing, in many cases this is not difficult and inexpensive. Proposing this approach of relating population status to habitat for two species right now: the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl.
END OF MEETING NOTES