MARCH 30 - April 1, 1998; BOSTON
USFS Region 9 (Eastern) Presentation
Don Meyer - Acting Deputy Regional Forester
Eastern Region covers 20 states, 17 national forests, 12 million acres; 7% of the forested land, 50% of the public land. National forests are islands of green in a densely populated area of the country. On 15 forest plans, developed 117 amendments. Time to move into plan revision. Looking to implement collaboration, revise plans, develop the role of monitoring.
Sam Emmons - Regional Planner
Much of Region 9 focus involves working with people. Lead forests for revision process are in lake states: Chippewa-Superior, Chequamegon-Nicolet. Also White Mt. and Green Mt. Process for revisions grounded in the Critique of National Forest Planning. Summary of Forest Planning Critique and Recommendations - handout. Developed a philosophy for revising forest plans - includes collaboration with public and principles of ecology. Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) gave input to process. Have a revision framework flow chart to help guide the overall process. The Notice of Intent for the Chippewa-Superior national forests lays out the proposal and criteria for changes.
Sue Stewart - Research Social Scientist
Sue Stewart works for the Northern Research Station. Summarized Huron-Manistee National Forest pre-NEPA public involvement process. Process quite different than that used in the first round of planning. The public involvement team decided not to attain consensus, and did not agree to break into smaller focused groups. Stayed as a team for all public involvement efforts. At first, many members of the public felt that collecting information and determining need for change before issuing the Notice of Intent was a waste of time. They felt it would all be done over again once the NOI was issued. The planning teamís role evolved - they participated rather than leading the meetings. Participants understood the planning process well, and knew what was going on in other parts of the country. Referred to the moratorium on planning as "prohibition." Congressional action stopped them before issuing the NOI. However, the pre-NOI process identified likely plan revision topics, who from the public was interested, what issues other participants were concerned about, and how they were positioning themselves to affect the plan revision. Process also developed trust and credibility of the revision process. At the end of the process, participants were very positive about the process.
Chuck Prausa - Planner, White Mountain National Forest
Talked about what process would work well for New England. Wanted to build on the town meeting process with deep roots in the area. Public groups were more closely related - no huge schism between interest groups. They intended to work together. In New Hampshire, 86% of the state is private ownership. Developed four principles for the process: 1) people would be included from the beginning, 2) public would learn from each other, 3) results would be widely circulated, 4) joint problem solving. On the social side, had three levels of involvement: 1) general information and submit comments, 2) local planning groups available to spend a few hours each month, 3) people expected to travel and participate in meetings. The science side of the process was supplemented by the large number of universities nearby who were willing to get involved. Public does not seem to be interested in an area assessment because of the time it would take. But do need some kind of overall assessment of vegetation and what should be managed for. Effort among four state foresters in New England to pull information from interest groups and to attain species-specific data. USFS State & Private was involved with state foresters in developing Northern Forest Lands Report. Now trying to get sustainability processes developed between USFS and state and Association of Counties. Developed a committee of scientists to oversee monitoring and look at wildlife and specific needs. Two reasons why people are reluctant to get involved in plan revisions: 1) during plan development, carefully crafted balanced solutions and then Congress only funded timber; 2) thought decisions had been made in forest plans, but then decisions had to be made a project level.
Dain Maddox, Regional Team
Environmental review coordinator in Regional Office in Milwaukee. People thought decisions in forest plans were forever unless a change in conditions occurred. White Mountain Forest Plan identified where expansion to ski areas would be allowed, but discovered they did not have all of the analysis and had to wrestle with the issues all over again. People bring disappointment to the revision process. Examine the USFS policy on project level planning. The two-tiered decision-making model: first level Ďzonesí the forest, second level proposes specific projects. Not a lot of effects analysis during the first level. Book - Biodiversity and the Law. Wrestle through large-scale issues many times over, especially when they cover multi-forests or states. But assessments make no decisions - must let the public know that additional analysis will be necessary. Most issues involve multiple agencies. Biodiversity requires analysis over again with each site-specific project because do not have analysis at the forest plan level. Looking at what issues can be addressed at the plan level in order to reduce efforts at site-specific level. Would like a bioregional assessment that makes decisions, even though that would constitute a third level of planning. When forest-level planning makes no decisions, it essentially doesnít count, and forces all decisions down to site-specific level, including some complex, landscape scale decisions.
Steve Harper - Former Forest Supervisor, Green Mt. National Forest
Coordinator of the Northern Forest Lands Study. New England Area Guide a good example of ecoregion model. Worked through Green Mountain Forest Plan. See two concurrent paths: 1) scientific and biological, and 2) sociological. Forest planning is not separate from forest management, or should not be. Starts in the field - go out with public and look at the ground. On the Green Mt. Plan, had a minimum of formal meetings. Simply had an open door, and invited comments. Must invite a broad cross-section of interests. Build trust this way. Gain knowledge about what people are thinking. Looking at the big picture of placement of national forests in Vermont. Developed section in the Forest Plan called: "The Role of the National Forest in Vermont." Levels of planning - national (policy), ecosystem level (policy clarification). People relate to the watershed as a planning boundary very well. Linking the watershed to the national forest (great deal of overlap) - have well-accepted local groups host meetings for discussion of forest planning. Ensure cross-section of public. Everyone must see benefit of the process. How are people connected to the land; how do people learn about the land. Booklet: "Kicking Stones Down a Dirt Road." Mad River Valley Planning Group - includes a group of five towns. Concerned about a ski area project. Came up with a creative solution. These activities take a long time. Must avoid jargon. Cultural understanding of terms we use varies. Need to simplify processes. Resist making unnecessary decisions, i.e. classifying cut-over land; just let them grow. Charge of the Northern Forest Lands Study was to look for solutions, but donít make any decisions/recommendations. Laid groundwork for studies that came after; Congress set up a council.
Public Comment Period
Four 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.
Future Meeting Agendas
Albuquerque agenda: Ranching discussion - 1 1/2 hrs; contemporary issues - 2 hrs. White Mountain Apache Tribe very interesting. Sacred land, sacred use issues around Pueblo.
Missoula - field trip to the Bitterroot on the 24th, additional field trip on Sat., April 25th. Jim Lyons first day (22nd), USFS second day (23rd).
Additional meeting May 27-28? Linda canít make either day. Agee canít make 27th.
Working Draft of Process Subcommittee Report
Summary by Julia.
Discussion: We are focusing too much on the process and not on what the goals are. Way in which the flora and fauna interact, the biological system, sets the context for whether planning is successful or not. Limits on performance, sustainability, etc. - this discussion should come up front. How to make these ideas explicit within the process. First list resources, interactions - set context for planning process. Part of context is not just problems, but also opportunities, e.g. interdisciplinary approaches.
Aside from a preface, a report needs an introduction. Start in 1897 with the Organic Act. Discussion of resources. What is laid out here in this process report can go in introduction. Can add opportunities with the obstacles. Then process part comes after the sustainability part.
Summary by Margaret.
Discussion about definition of large and small landscape plans. Size, relationship to NEPA, and current examples.
Attracting the Public
Concern that so few people came to the meetings. Appalachian Mountain Club did not show up. Need to ask the question, "How do you want your forests managed?" OR ask, "How as forest planning succeeded or failed?" Have Forest public affairs officers call local papers to follow up and have Norm personally call papers in Albuquerque and Missoula and Idaho - give scope and quotes. Having Norm do it removes it from a Forest Service meeting, which it is not.
Rogerís Draft of a Proposed Preface
At a high level of interaction, you can get consensus (at a very general level), but as it moves down, little consensus. Cited the 7th American Forest Congress. Budgets that donít match up with plans. Overlapping environmental laws. When someone looks back at us 20 years from now, Roger does not want people to think that this committee naively believes that planning regulations can make a difference. Preface that there are a lot of problems, and Committee canít solve them all.
Have heard that despite all the problems, changes are taking place. Committee can provide something productive.
A preface is a good idea in that it can say, here is the context the Committee is operating within. Words can change to focus on the opportunities.
Important to think about how we want to cast what we recommend to the Secretary of Agriculture. Want to provide some hopeful, helpful information...there have been troubles in the past, but we can do something different. If the door is open, or has a welcome sign on it, is a very different thing than if the door is closed, or locked, or is unlocked but leads to the basement when the work is done on the second floor.
Donít think we can reason from history into the future in this case. Reasons for policy in 1970 very different than now. Canít solve the problem that grew in 1980 by looking back at old regs. Rather than starting at the big things, look at going in the right direction, and write something we can do something about.
In no way do you deal with the whole USFS policy through the regulations. Always have budget problems. Despite this, the regulations are important. Do need a preface stating what the Committee was asked to comment on, and that have suggestions beyond that. The Committee is not just tweaking. Need to develop something workable and practical. Got USFS input on assessments and plans - feedback. Come up with a plan for real successes going on. Have regulations match new, innovative ways of planning that are already going on. Send a very strong signal through our language in the report, and a confirmation that being open, and land health comes first, recognizing other things within that, and simplify the process - those notions may catch. Reinforce what creative people are doing.
This preface brings up a very important discussion. The ultimate measure of success is whether we sustain ecosystems. Need a national dialogue with public. See our report as an opportunity to educate. What we see as scientists. Put what we see as useful into our report. Key points to educate into our report. Some people see failure to fully exploit trees on national forests as lost opportunities. Can point out how opportunities can be gained by doing the opposite. Obligated to spark a new dialogue. Set context and bring it out in our discussion.
Notion of sustainability is the cornerstone of what weíre about. Put it in the context of where we are now. Fundamental shift, as developed in the Northwest Forest Plan, that resources are not unlimited. If move in that direction, 10 or 15 years from now, will see knowledge portrayed in that context. Must rebuild a constituency for USFS; without a constituency, management of the national forests will fail.
In 1980's, asked forest supervisors in what context could they say no to timber targets. It was only in the context of lack of budgets. Could not say no based on local context or issues. On the Bitterroot, plans were not controlling documents; this led to overharvesting.
As a preface, this document does not set up what Committee wants. Could go in obstacles and opportunities section.
Can make suggestions beyond the regulations. What we suggest has to be based on our own analysis (canít be rumors). Appeals and litigation (doesnít exist?). Jack Ward Thomas said, "donít be used." Environmental laws - where donít they agree? Before claiming these are a problem, must have our own analysis to show it. Do have a duty to suggest improvements in the regulations. History will show whether we make real changes or simply nibble around the edges. Set a context.
There are studies on problems such as appeals/litigation, environmental laws; investigate/cite.
May need to look at the Ďproblemí differently - is the appeal process working? Is it a working, democratic, part of the process?
Proposed Outline 2
Add a section to Introduction about history of national forests, e.g. big trees lost. Change in the diameter of trees -can be very misleading. Qualitative discussion could be backed up by challenges like this. People come to diametrically opposed conclusions from same data set. Overarching effects on national forests - roading since WWII.
The paper needs and introduction (not a preface); this can be a section called Background.
Also have an executive summary.
Introduction sets out the scope of the problem, of the report, and approach/methodology.
Add an acknowledgment section.
Utilize some existing models - Barry provide one.
Sustainability section: focus on the broad consensus of ecologists and scientists.
Under both sections current situation, and obstacles/opportunities - biophysical and social areas.
For each section: a reasoning about the concept (how we think about it) (what Margaret and Julia presented on planning process); a comparison to proposed regulations; recommended changes.
Another model: donít bring in comparisons until end of report.
Given our analysis, here are our recommendations.
Append the proposed regs and the current regs.
Objectives, scope, context
II. Context for National Forest Planning
1. The early years
2. Post WWII
3. Passage of NFMA
B. Current Conditions of National Forests
C. Social Context
III. Fundamental Concepts of Land and Resource Planning and Management
1. The policy and challenge
2. Biological sustainability
3. Economic and cultural sustainability
B. Planning Processes
1. Objectives and challenge
2. Planning structure: assessments and plans
C. Other Influences
a. The process and challenge
3. Set of environmental laws
IV. Recommendations for Forest Service Planning
A. Recommendations for Planning Regulations
1. Incorporate Purpose and Principles
B. Other Recommendations for the Agency
C. Recommendations for Congress
Discussion on Ecological Sustainability
Reviewed document by Norm Johnson.
What language is most accessible to land managers; less susceptible to reinterpretation later.
How to tell when achieving biological integrity?
Have a method for achieving it; assessment of whether attaining.
What things could we measure to give some inference to the whole system - aquatic systems, etc. Utilize work done on development of a monitoring program for the Northwest Forest Plan.
Be frank about limitations on ability to measure this concept right now; it is an evolving issue.
Efforts in global arena for sustainability - can we get?
Must provide pragmatic processes. Allow decisions to go forward.
One thing that has bogged down the field of natural resource management is the concept of uncertainty. Less than complete knowledge is going to be with us for a long time. How does one plan and make decisions when there is uncertainty in the outcomes.
Ecological risk assessment - adopted by Environmental Protection Agency.
Genetic potential and productivity are valid concepts. Way we measure anything is relatively crude. How far do we want to go before ending activities.
High probability of persistence - still a qualitative terminology. Asking whether a species is viable or not is not a good question. Has to do with persistence. If imagine two sets: one of being viable, one of going extinct...must debate. A decision must be made through a probability statement.
Ecological assessment puts uncertainties in a decision-making process. In ecology, donít even know the uncertainties, risks. Can be interpreted differently in different contexts.
Uncertainty as a resource - change only happens when there is uncertainty.
Two sources of uncertainty: 1) associated with estimation - with a process - estimation of error, 2) process uncertainty - inherent. Best you can do as a scientist or manager is to narrow estimation uncertainty; have to live with process uncertainty.
Must be some resiliency to fold into a larger paradigm.
Need to ensure that learning is incorporated into USFS planning. Suggest a framework for USFS to incorporate measures of sustainability, but one that would allow for growth.
Charles work with Barry - write up a regulation on diversity.
Diversity an element of sustainability; the two canít be separated, e.g. you can focus on diversity and neglect soil health.
You get frustration from outside the biological community when perception is that biologists are creating their own definitions. We could define sustainability as having a biological and cultural components (cultural - wood gathering, etc. on land grant forests). Trying to sustain things that are not fuzzy and big - nebulous. First, you must attain biological sustainability because everything else depends on it; then focus on economic aspects. Can spend more time on biological sustainability because more work has been done on it already.
Definitions vary tremendously. E.g., conditions in 1942 v. 1998 can be argued several ways.
We have three choices - 1982 regs, proposed regs, and whatever we come up with. Must take our best shot.
Relationships, tribal or Hispanic or whatever, are constituent to the system we want to maintain. We can begin to build these in.
To maintain sustainability, must look at biological, social/cultural, and economic systems. The mechanics are biological, however.
Ron - work on cultural.
Barry & Charles - work on diversity.
Virginia - work on sustainability (with subgroup).
Reviewed paper by Bob Beschta.
This discussion - some whole paragraphs - fit directly into the sustainability section of the report; Virginia will incorporate.
Have focused on the productivity of ecosystems for years. Now the focus is why that is not acceptable. The statement of focusing on what is left changes the paradigm completely.
Redefining structure and scope of federal decisions. Removing options from federal managers.
Measure of watershed health for the pilot study: wildlife, watershed, fish, plants, proportional habitat representation - various components.
Watershed refers to concerns about landslides, surface erosion, large woody debris, shade, watershed interaction. Having a landslide with or without wood two different things.
(This summary is from the Umpqua land exchange program.)
Also considered productivity (timber production). Objective function was to put areas of high potential (landslide, erosion, etc.) into USFS ownership. Maximize habitat.
Clean Water Act may come in under Other Influences. USFS has problems in this area. Will be a driver in how they make decisions.
Sometimes watersheds are not the right unit for land use assessments. What is a generic term for overall use?
Plan Subgroup (Ron, Larry, Linda, Jim L.)
Reviewed handout (Ron Trosper).
Wrote a principle and a series of subprinciples.
Intent to bridge the process part with implementation part, which is what a plan should do.
Might be a subprinciple dealing with the hierarchy of planning.
Management/Implementation Subgroup (Agee)
Reviewed handout from Jim Agee.
Backward mapping model caught his attention - decentralized planning process was originally proposed for the USFS. Rarely implemented.
[Elmer Fudd strategy - water, wildlife, wilderness, wood, wange, and wecreation]
Review of handout on terminology and concepts by Linda Hardesty.
Rangeland has potential of producing forage, i.e. early seral stage of moister forest types. Can be forest types as well. A lot of federal land in western states is rangeland. Uncultivated - which eliminates agricultural land. Lots of agricultural policies that focus on production of cheap food. Overlaps into rangeland policies. Most rangeland policy comes from the Department of Interior. Issue of adjacent ownerships: BLM and USFS have different lease rates, etc. Administrative nightmare.
COS members Roger Sedjo, Margaret Shannon, and Larry Nielsen, along with DFO Bob Cunningham and Jonathan Stephens, met with representatives of professional societies (SAF, TWS, ESA, SRM, RNRF, and Pinchot Institute) on March 25, 1998, in Bethesda, Maryland, to discuss their views on the Committeeís charge. The meeting covered the same general topics as earlier COS meetings, and did not add substantively to the information or persepctives available to the Committee.
END OF MEETING NOTES