May 27-29, 1998; BOULDER
Watersheds and NFMA Planning
Dr. Beschta led a discussion of the committee on watesheds and NFMA planning, and the Committee reviewed his draft section of the report. Watersheds can provide a "sense of place" that the public can identify in their communities. Watersheds have unique attributes and cross multiple ownerships. Watershed restoration and emphasis on watershed protection is consistent with Chief Dombeck’s Natural Resources Agenda. NFMA is limited with respect to watersheds. There is a need to strengthen the assessment of cumulative effects of proposed management activities in watersheds and to link management to the Clean Water Act.
Independent Scientific Review Panel
Dr. Nielsen discussed the establishment of independent scientific and expert committees, and summarized his draft section of the Committee report. There is a need for an outside scientific review of Forest Service planning and management. The Committee discussed the role and responsibilities of a national board along with possible regional boards. The national committee could interpret scientific literature for applicable management guidelines, and review the consistency of the use of science in forest management. Regional committees, as needed, could adopt national guidelines to special regional conditions and provide the external monitoring reviews of forest management. There are concerns about the expenses, availability of scientists, and the time impacts of these committees on the agency. Examples of scientific reviews come from the Tongass LRMP and Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project.
EPA has extensive experience with scientific review panels, which Dr. Dale discussed. Dr. Trosper discussed the Forest Stewardship Council idea and how it is providing an independent review of forest management on private forest lands.
Dr. Johnson discussed the need for defining new roles for Forest Service Research, given the increasing responsibilities to conduct science-based forest planning and management. Is research solving problems at the right scales, and how would the independent scientific review boards relate to Forest Service Research? Also, there is a need to address the chasm that exists between development of the Northwest Forest Plan (NFP), for which concepts were developed by scientists, and implementation of the NFP, which receives little scientific input. Currently, there is no incentive for research to work on Plan implementation.
Sustaining land, economies and human communities
The Committee reviewed Dr. Dale’s draft section of the report on sustainability. The key concept is that unless we can ensure eiological sustainability, we cannot have economic and cultural sustainability. This message needs to be at the front of the report. Other important factors are that: 1) there are uncertainties in how to measure and manage for sustainability, 2) there are known factors that need to be considered in planning, 3) a learning approach is needed, and 4) an assessment process is needed prior to planning.
Dr. Johnson indicated he would draft a section of the report on current condition of national forests. The Committee agreed that the report should emphasize "planning to achieve sustainability", while recognizing external influences on Forest Service planning.
Economic and Social Sustainability
Dr. Johnson led the discussion on economic and social sustainability. Dr. Shannon explained the origins of the concepts "community stability" and "community capacity". Sustainability is trying to blend the two concepts together, but the Committee should avoid using the term "sustainable management". Communities should not rely on one resource, because if the resource becomes unavailable, communities decline.
The Committee agreed that this section of the report should include a discussion of indigenous peoples and all the economic values provided by forests, e.g., from downstream water irrigation to firewood, recreation opportunities, Indian religious sites, timber, mining, and salmon habitat in the Pacific Northwest.
Dr. Trosper discussed how economic and social sustainability is consistent with the concepts of biological sustainability. He shared information from the Santiago Agreement and the Forest Stewardship Council. Dr. Sedjo discussed the institutional concepts of sustainability. Wilkinson agreed to draft a section in the report on communities and sustainability.
Dr. Johnson reviewed the latest draft on sustained yield, timber production, marginal lands and NFMA. He proposed changing the current concept of "suitable timber lands" to include those lands where timber harvest may be employed to achieve multiple-use and resource protection goals, but timber production is not itself a goal. There was discussion about the benefits and disadvantages of doing this.
Planning to Achieve Sustainability
Dr. Shannon summarized the revised draft section of the report on the planning process. There was a discussion about the difference between policy formation and problem solving, and the need to view local planning as "implementation planning. Flexibility will be needed in the processes used to complete implementation plans, since issues and resource conditions vary widely between different regions of the country.
Dr. Noon and Charles Wilkinson discussed the draft biological sustainability section of the report. Dr. Sedjo expressed concern with trying to maintain viability in a given timeframe when there are dynamic processes and successional processes that lead to shifting distribution of species over time. Dr. Noon explained the rationale for maintaining persistence of species over time and to have a habitat view of the landscape.
The Committee discussed the sustainability language for the NFMA regulations and the need to have it understandable to the public. Revisions to the ecosystem diversity section were discussed at length. The Committee agreed that this is one of the most important parts of the report. Viability science may be a good topic for the independent scientific advisory board to review.
Dr. Noon discussed the importance of the adaptive management concept and described the difference between "active" adaptive management with rigorous, integrated experiments and "passive" adaptive management with demonstration areas where monitoring alone may be adequate to learn about new management techniques. Monitoring is more than simply collecting data-- it must include measurements, analysis, evaluation of the "decision space", and modifying decisions as necessary to meet management objectives. There is a need to add a monitoring section to the report, and Dr. Noon agreed to draft this section.
There was a discussion of the need to ensure water quality and quantity, e.g., in-stream flows, within a landscape to meet species viability. This concept is not well described in the current NFMA regulations and will be added to the Committee report.
Under Secretary Lyons Participation
Under Secretary Lyons attended the second day of the meeting and shared his perspectives on the draft concepts being developed. He emphasized the need to include information on current condition of the social environment in assessments, in order to have plans derived from assessments be politically feasible.
Lyons outlined the schedule for the Committee to complete its work and report to the Secretary and Chief of the Forest Service. Lyons stated his interest in having draft planning regulations by the end of September. He wanted the Committee to plan on briefing the Secretary around the first week of July; the Committee could then have into July to finish its Report. The Committee discussed their interest in getting a draft report on the Committee web page, so they could try to get reviews by a multitude of individuals and groups. The Committee and Lyons agreed that there will be public teleconference calls on June 17 and June 24, where the Committee will discuss their reviews of newly revised sections of the report.