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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: June 12, 1998

 

TO: The Committee of Scientists

 

FROM: K. Norman Johnson, Committee Chair

 

SUBJECT: Missoula Committee Meeting Notes

 

 

Enclosed are the notes from the eighth meeting of the Committee of Scientists Federal Advisory Committee held April 22-23, 1998 in Missoula, Montana.

 

The purpose of the meeting in Missoula was to hear from USFS Regions 1 & 4, the Greater Yellowston Coordinating Committee, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Montana Wood Products Association, the State of Montana and interested citizens. In addition, the Committee worked on their report to the Secretary.

 

Enclosed you will find:

Attendance from April 22-23, 1998

Meeting minutes

 

Thank you for your participation in the meeting.

ATTENDANCE

APRIL 22 - 23, 1998; MISSOULA

 

COMMITTEE OF SCIENTISTS

Guest Speakers

Dr. Norm Johnson, Chair

Jack Troyer, USFS R4, Dep. Reg. Forester

Dr. Bob Beschta

Larry Larson, USFS R4, Director Planning

Dr. Linda Hardesty

Bill LeVere, USFS R4, FS Sawtooth NF

Dr. Jim Long

Bob Davis, USFS R4, Regional Planner

Dr. Larry Nielsen

Kathy McCallister, USFS R1, Dep. Reg. Forester

Dr. Roger Sedjo

Tom Rhode, USFS R1, Regional Planner

Dr. Ron Trosper

Joan Dickerson, USFS R1, Kootenai NF

Charles Wilkinson, Prof. of Law

George Weldon, USFS R1, Helena NF (Dist. Rgr)

Dr. Julia Wondolleck

Jon Haber, USFS R1, Planner

Dr. Margaret Shannon

Cary Hegreberg MT Wood Products Assoc.

Dr. Jim Agee

Michael Scott, Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Dr. Virginia Dale

Mark Petroni, Bvrhd-Deerldg NF, Madison DR

Bob Cunningham, Designated Federal Official

John Varley, Yellowstone National Park

 

Rep. Aubyn Curtiss, State of Montana

Committee Staff Support

Rep. Marion Hanson, State of Montana

Harriet Plumley, USFS

Don Snow, Northern Lights Institute

Ann Carlson, USFS

Dan Kemmis, Center for Rocky Mt. West

Jonathan Stephens, USFS

 

Joanne Hildreth, USFS

 
   

Audience *Made public comments.

Betsy McGreer, McGreer & Co. Inc.*

Orville Daniels, Retired USFS*

Mark Simonich, Gov. Racicot’s Office (DEQ)*

Michael Fish, Weyerhaeuser*

Greg Schildwachten, Intermt. Forest Ind. Assoc.*

Arlene Montgomery, Friends of the Wild Swan*

Alex Philp, Univ. Montana Forestry*

Katherine Deuel, Alliance for Wild Rockies*

Don Serba, Pulp Paper Resource Council*

Kelly Burnett, USFS Pacific NW Lab*

Niel Lawrence, Nat. Res. Defense Council*

Jim Riley, Intermountain Forest Industry Assoc.*

Bob Pfister, Forester/Plant Ecologist Univ. MT*

Thurman Trosper, Retired USFS/Wildeness Soc.*

Peter Kolb, Extension Forester*

Rich Lane, Stone Container*

Len Broberg, Conservation Biologist, UM*

Sheila Keller, Montana Women in Timber*

Bruce Farling, Montana Trout Unlimited*

Dick Vinson, Vinson Timber*

Brenda Linlief Hall*

Doug Mood, Pyramid Mountain Lumber*

Bethanie Walder, Wildlnds Ctr. for Prevent. Rds*

Pete Ellsworth, Intl. Asc. Machinists & Aerosp.*

J.B. Stone*

Bob Ekey, The Wilderness Society*

Clarence Taber*

Kim Davitt, American Wildlands*

Colleen Snyder, CGNW

Ron Porter, Porterbilt*

Doug Gochnour, USFS Clearwater NF

Cary Hegreberg, Mont. Wood Products Assoc.*

Ted Boling

Bill Mulligan, Three Rivers Timber Inc.*

Linda Uhmer, USFS Region 1

Bill Haskins, Ecology Center*

Dick Artley, USFS Nez Perce NF

 

Committee Work

 

Julia Wondolleck - II.C. Social & Organizational Context

Social context: A high level of distrust currently seems to exist in the planning process. Will take some effort to develop a compelling process. We’ve seen some opportunities as we’ve traveled around the county. The Agency (USFS) often seems under siege, but there are many active participants as well. Wealth of expertise and knowledge exists. Growing understanding of watersheds and the forest as well. Recognition of growing demands for recreation.

 

Organizational context: reinforcement of the "us vs. them" attitudes; transfers and retirements undermining productive relationships. Numerous opportunities within the USFS family - cooperation, models of effective planning, collaborative efforts.

 

Contextual elements of promising approaches: larger frameworks like the Southern Appalachian Assessment that had level of support and participation from outside the agency; active stewardship; hubris replaced by humility within the USFS.

 

Conclusion: Any process of planning should be structured to encourage ongoing learning.

Planners need to be working in the context of solving problems rather than going through the steps of a process. Maintain creativity.

 

Should we put more emphasis on FEMAT/NW Forest Plan, because it enabled USFS to work more closely with public and other agencies, assessments, adaptive management, interagency groups? Put a sidebar on Northwest Forest Plan in this chapter. Highlight two aspects: 1) things mandated to be done, and 2) creativity that came out of it. Not FEMAT itself (closed process), but what came out of it (the Plan). A comprehensive cumulative effects analysis was done. Can it be replicated? Yes. Don’t just begin the process with FEMAT; go further back to explain the evolution of the change. We don’t want the examples in the sidebars to carry too much weight - none of them are perfect examples, but each illustrates successes particular to specific situations.

 

This section has a number of unsubstantiated assertions; need supporting facts and details. Were trying to get the ideas right; substantiate later. How are we going to deal with citations in the report? Try to draw from observations from field. Could say that we filtered what we heard, and here is what we believe to be true. Differentiate between statements that are highly controversial. Committee experiences over a long period of time can be incorporated also. Don’t need a lot of scientific documentation for this section, because are using a different research methodology.

 

Margaret Shannon - III.B. Planning Process

Principles: Looking at issues brought forward since presentation of this section in Boston. Planning and implementation of plans requires engagement of the public. Strongly a participatory process; operates at various scales of space and time. Problem-solving process. USFS should come to the table as a stakeholder (participant as well as coordinator/implementor). General principles are emerging: should be educative; enables stewardship; process should focus outwardly; unfettered forum....etc.

 

Planning Processes: must reemphasize the process as creative and educative. Public must organize in order to define issues and problems. As laid out by the White Mountain National Forest, the whole first effort allows the public to define issues collaboratively. Maintain controversy and provide a forum for deliberation. External review process: bring forward ideas and highlight creative ideas (cast in a positive framework).

 

Assessments - don’t start with a regional boundary; start with a problem-based boundary, always carried out by a collaborative working group (not agency processes). This becomes an organizational challenge because it assumes there is a structure in place to accomplish this.

 

Discussion on levels of planning: forest plans should not require EIS’s, but should have a decision document. Large landscape plans can be built out of a set of forest plans done simultaneously across a landscape.

 

Strata:

*RPA Assessment (strategic vision),

*Regional Assessment,

Landscape Scale Plans/Forest Plans (NEPA),

*Watershed Assessments,

Small Landscape Scale Plans (goals/policies) (NEPA).

*Information gathering only. Functional divisions in the USFS get all messed up. Very difficult to set a process for the NEPA planning levels.

 

Comments by Jim Birchfield, Bolle Center: This process stifles creativity. These will not be more efficient. Boundless body of emerging knowledge. Will always be a new model or new data just around the corner. Instead of having one NEPA document to deal with, there will be several. A regional assessment bounded by a problem could be valuable.

 

To enable experimentation, must allow some outside review. Difficult to set standards in large landscape scale plans that are meaningful at the project level. Evaluate this process on its own merits, rather than as opposed to current way of doing business.

 

Large landscape scale plans with multiple owners - conceivably only USFS setting policy. Why desirable to be a NEPA decision point? NEPA decisions are only required where irreversible commitment of resources are made, land designation designations are made, or federal money is allocated. Best current example is the NW Forest Plan - clearly makes long-term decisions about areas of land designation; processes implemented at sub-landscape scale are constrained by it. A binding document. Is a replacement for a forest plan level decision. NEPA is a public disclosure process.

 

 

Virginia Dale - III.A.2. Biological Sustainability

Overview of section developed to date. At a juncture we’ve never been before in history - know more scientifically, but will continue to learn more. Cumulative effects analysis required. Thresholds may change over time and space. Monitoring for sustainability will change over time (adaptive monitoring). Current approach of coarse and fine filters may need changes. Develop this framework for the hierarchical approach. How monitoring on the national forests relates to other agencies. Levels of advisory boards - national and regional. Standing diverse advisory boards could allow for scientific evaluation and identification of successes or opportunities. Implications of planning for ecological sustainability - what are the metrics, etc.

 

Are soil concerns incorporated under general ecological sustainability? Soil was a primary component that gave rise. Chose to avoid complete iterations; instead use primary examples.

 

Is budget the constraint in this section? Not a primary objective; a constraint and possibly a bigger one than previously. Role of sustainability is different here than in previous regulations. Role may be different, but doesn’t relate to the mandate of NFMA or MUSY (traditional outputs are a direct way of addressing sustainability)? NFMA was born out of a concern for soil and watersheds. Focus should be what remains, not what taken. Condition of the land should be a guiding principle, and other things flow from that - this should be highlighted in this section. This is a statement of how, from a scientific and technical standpoint, we should be viewing sustainability. Not only a value, but also a construct. Drawing from what the law says on productivity.

 

Bob Beschta - III. A. 3. Watershed Integrity

Concept of watershed shows up in watershed analyses and in other arenas. Perhaps watershed integrity is important to think about here. Law of gravity is at work with water, sediment, nutrients, carbon, large woody debris, and downstream connectivity. There is also upstream connectivity, e.g. headward connectivity of gullies, fish returning to spawn (nutrient influx). Topographic barriers that some of us identify as representing edges of watersheds have social and ecological viewpoints. People may be looking at specific watersheds when they identify their issues. A lot that goes on with management activities, especially in the realm of cumulative effects, relate to water; movement of chemicals, fisheries, water quality, recreation issues are inherently watershed driven. Not everything works well with the watershed concept, e.g. species in uplands/ridgetops. Negative effects related to water: loss of beaver, riparian harvest, splash damming, channel incision, loss of pools. Attempt to solve these problems on a watershed unit. Anyone with perspectives should provide input to Bob for incorporation into this section. Watershed concepts are integral to the sustainability section; can they be linked? Also link in some cultural and social definitions of watersheds that are not clearly ecological. Sense of place should be built in (biological place).

 

Ron Trosper - III.A.4. Economic and Social Sustainability

Goals coming from the cultural mix of people in the landscape. This chapter provides an illustration of focuses from various social settings. Mixes of productivity that are within the historical range of productivity of an ecosystem. How effective is the economy in producing material input of service (MIPs). When manage for predictability, you increase unpredictability. A sustained economy equates to a steady increase; sustainable varies, but always within bounds of what the ecosystem can support. Role of subsidies from outside the ecosystem must be acknowledged and incorporated into the equation, e.g. managing fire risk through management activities. A main influence on the landscape is fragmentation, especially cultural and economic fragmentation. People in a city forget that they exist in a watershed and that they affect it. USFS planning is a way to get various fragments in communication with each other. Implications for national forest management are diverse perspectives of what to sustain and how reach agreement. When local people attempt to collaborate, USFS has power to destroy that collaboration (need to look outward to larger economy).

 

This is not an attempt to look at pre-modern economies. Lumber mills exist now, and are trying to sustain themselves. Trying to set a framework through which we can address technological change; empirically measurable connection. Tie specifically by using economic service in relation to ecosystem. Technology is very important - changes things - can do things never possible before. Maybe we should put in the historical section of the paper.

 

Jim Long - Silvicultural Aspects of NFMA (III.A.?)

(This summary is not part of the sustained yield chapter; will need to be fit into other sections of report.) Definition of silviculture. Regulations should allow flexibility in designing systems to meet intent of land management plans. Could fit into the technology discussion? The rule of "thou shalt plant" is counter to a lot of other considerations. Perhaps at the landscape assessment level, you can deal with what the options should be. Reproduction methods - in 60’s clearcutting became the default. Congress wanted it to be used only where it was optimal [economically?]. In the 1995 regulations, there is a list of where clearcuts would be optimal. This is ill-advised. Should be made on a type-by-type basis. Harvest area size seems to be out of synch with natural disturbance patterns. Appropriate scales and patterns for disturbances should be addressed at the landscape level.

 

The use of the word ‘appropriate’ in this presentation means biologically appropriate as based on historical disturbance regimes.? Assuming that the historic range of natural variability comes from an assessment done on a landscape scale. Culmination of Mean Annual Increment could be taken up in this section. Weave all together into the sustainability section.

 

Roger Sedjo - III.C. Other Influences

Long-term problems with constituency allowing USFS to get its budget. Old system broken down; new not in place yet. Absence of public consensus on objectives. Insufficient budgets for plans; allocated by programs - some overfunded, some under. Al Sample and Ross Gordy: budget by national forest. Cited Quincy Library Group that wants a separate budget for a part of a national forest. The real plan being generated by Congress and not the planning process. Average of eight appeals per forest plan; of these 100 went to litigation (this is less than one per forest). In some sense this process is manageable; in another, it takes almost a decade with gridlock in the meantime. Internally there are several levels appeals go through. BLM has a more efficient system - one level. Get out of the internal system quickly. Absence of legal or public consensus on objectives: is sustainability the overriding objective of forest planning?

 

Norm Johnson - III.A.5. Sustained Yield

Summarized the subcommittee’s work on the sustained yield section. Four management designations are assigned under forest plans:

 

A. Timber harvest prohibited.

B. Timber harvest allowed but not a goal.

C. Timber production a subsidiary goal.

D. Timber production a primary goal.

 

*C&D are suitable land for timber production.

 

Timber production: a long-term commitment to produce timber volume for commercial uses.

 

Two graphs:

1) Portrays a relatively high level of long-term sustained-yield capacity (LTSYC),

D stepping up to that level, and C providing additional volume.

 

2) Portrays a relatively low level of LTSYC, C stepping up to that level, and B providing a great deal of (non-counting) volume stepping down over time.

 

In the future, a large amount of harvest is going to come out of B - thinning to prevent fires.

 

Report on Multi-Project NEPA Documents - Harriet Plumley

Summarized the benefits and difficulties of preparing multi-project NEPA documents, reasons for failures, and general findings. Summaries of 12 successful multi-project NEPA documents and five unsuccessful ones were included in the report she submitted to the Committee. Harriet also handed out a list of 16 examples of bio-regional assessment projects that potentially could be highlighted in sidebars within the Committee’s report to the Secretary.

 

Comments from Jim Lyons, Under Secretary of Agriculture

 

Mr. Lyons spoke to the Committee via speaker phone. He emphasized that the Committee’s report should be directed to the Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, but that it is also intended for: 1) the USFS family who will need to understand it; 2) partnering agencies with whom legal authorities must dovetail; 3) the public - the report should generate interest and enthusiasm for national forest planning.

 

The Committee should keep two ideas in mind concerning the product: 1) Give best guidance for a resilient, dynamic process that will stand the test of time - a decade or two out (e.g. the Tongass NF Plan available on CD). 2) Develop a framework for restructuring forest planning. The problems that work against the USFS are separate program areas, such as State and Private Forestry vs. Forest Planning. Encourage collaboration across these divisions.

 

Three critically important elements to address in the Report: 1) The role of the public and collaboration with other agencies. Debates at the ground level are the most important way to encourage collaboration. 2) The proper role of science in the planning process and in formulating policy. Cited the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project process, cross-boundary issues, and ecosystem flows. 3) What forest plans should look like in the future, e.g. more dynamic, enduring, and incorporating good science and monitoring.

 

Public Comment Period

 

Thirty-three 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.

 

Region 4 (Intermountain) Presentation

 

Jack Troyer - Deputy Regional Forester

The status quo just didn’t work for forests. An ecological approach to revisions is what we are proceeding with now. Four basic components: 1) Whole knowledge base - we need to do the assessments at various scales. 2) Relationships - community of interest approach, getting a broad cross-section. 3) Actions - specific events, e.g. revisions; no standardization right now. 4) Continuous feedback process. The word ‘revision’ drives us toward an event. Almost an obsolete concept now.

 

Emphasize the five big subjects: 1) The forest plan should be an integrator; 2) focus on key goals for management (consider whether NEPA required at forest level), 3) allow a collaborative process between agencies up front (in the beginning of the planning process), 4) give the community of interest incentives to stay involved; 5) create a process that is quick enough so the community of interest can stay involved.

 

Bill LeVere - Forest Supervisor, Sawtooth National Forest

Believes that the USFS needs to act as an integrator at various scales and with various methods, and with other agencies. Planning process needs to set broad goals and objectives. Planning process needs to be collaborative, although this is not a panacea. Investments in the past were on process and procedure. Need to listen to people and incorporate their ideas. We have the social, economic, and political now, as well as the biological and physical. Incorporate incentives for all parties to work together. Some groups or individuals have no motivation to sit around the table. We can design some processes to encourage interaction and compromises. Gaining public input at the eleventh hour does not seem to be working. Need to get people involved in clean water and clean air - overall issues. Need to better integrate various agencies, other laws, and NFMA at once. Will build ownership from people and groups who have the same community of interest. The current process is analytical and rigid. The process is far less important than sitting around the table doing the ‘spitting and whittling.’ Have some dilemmas on collaboration - FACA is a barrier. Resource advisory councils used through development of the Northwest Forest Plan are innovative and valuable. Candid discussions and relationship-building are more important. Streamline process requirements from analysis paralysis to deliberation. Administrative appeal regulations can be valuable, but may be a process thats time has come and gone. Appeals do not cost people any more than a stamp to file, but getting them to participate takes their time. Need to force interaction as a community of interest. Collaboration takes time and money, both of which are in short supply, but it is essential. The viability determination is a struggle. Makes good sense in forest management, but need to evaluate it - no agreement on how to do it. USFS role is to manage habitat. Need to address viability at multiple scales - metapopulations at broader scales and smaller-range populations at finer scales. Complex and challenging.

 

Southwest Idaho Ecogroup (handout) is an example of shared personnel and services between three National Forests: Boise, Payette, and Sawtooth. Same issues, community of interest, etc. Saved costs by working together. Tried to make decisions at the ground level. Had more flexibility on where dollars go. Approaching amendment and revision process jointly. Formed one interdisciplinary team. Hand-picked the team members. Three forest planners oversee the team. Recently released the analysis of the management situation (AMS). Their plan is to develop one environmental impact statement across the three Forests, but each will have its own forest plan and record of decision. Seems to be working very well; public has provided positive feedback on this process. Hopeful that the process will work and feel it is viable under the current (1982) regulations. Feel they could do it even better with more flexibility. Question why they need to do NEPA at the forest planning level, rather than just at the project level where irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources are made.

 

Bob Davis - Regional Planner

Linking assessments and decision-making was presented in a matrix of examples. There has been a lot of discussion on whether these efforts have value. Information from broader scales provides the context and information, and from lower scales tells us if an action is implementable. The old planning process is event-driven every 10-15 years, with hope of amending to keep current. This has failed. It is an inefficient model. The new process should be focused on collaborative planning; continuous and adaptive as new issues come up and new information is brought in. Incorporate multiple scales; focus NEPA at the project scale; make revisions unnecessary because plans are always up to date.

 

Larry Larson - Director of Planning

In working with multiple scales as laid out now, concept of cumulative effects is very complicated. Would be appropriate to think about a national level protocol that would allow a cumulative effects procedure everyone agrees on. Draw consistent inferences across time and space. Monitoring should be focused; inventory and data collection should be consistent. Concept of viability of species, water quality, and other systems we manage - lack a framework to monitor. Any decision-maker, at the point of proposing an action, should have a framework for considering the future. Possible through the regulatory effort of the Committee to address this. NEPA analysis requirements are currently at three levels: two programmatic and one site-specific. In addition, we now have another one at a scale broader than the regional guide (bio-regional assessments). Would like the Committee to look strongly at where NEPA is required. Always retracted back to higher scales. It would be more efficient to require NEPA only where environmental consequences are caused, as opposed to where broader decisions are made.

 

Region 1 (Northern) Presentation

 

Kathy McCallister - Deputy Regional Forester

Northern Region is all or parts of three states. Issues of threatened & endangered species, access & travel management are important. Ecosystem management has influenced our planning process. Most plans are due to be revised by 2001.

 

Tom Rhode - Regional Planner

Ecosystem management is not something we pursued in the first round of planning. Spent lots of time making the allowable sale quantity (ASQ) come out to the second decimal. Three things we have talked a lot about: continuous planning, nature of decisions we needed to make (at various scales), and variety of terminology. Provided a graph of hierarchical levels in terms of geographic extent. Each level has a different decision document. Need to reduce the number of arrows in the chart in order to get through a decision-making processes in a timely manner. At basin-wide level, want to make decisions appropriate to that geographic extent, for example. For the aquatic resource, for example, make different types of decisions at the sub-basin level than at the watershed or stream reach scale. Currently we are forced to make fine-scale decisions at the course-scale level. Multi-scale terminology is confusing within and between agencies, and especially for the public. Standardize this type of terminology. Middle scales (basin, sub-basin, and watershed) are the important ones for forest planning. Regulations should provide an adaptive process, be simplified to deal with changing issues (1982 regulations did not lend themselves to flexibility that is necessary to ecosystem management. They instead focused on some very specific issues and benchmarks.

 

Joan Dickerson, Kootenai National Forest

Developed a prototype forest plan (color handout). Used results of the USFS’s Land Management Planning Critique. Learned from experiences: plans are locally oriented with national interests. One size doesn’t fit all. Even across one forest, vegetative, geographic, and community differences are strong. Determined which decisions would get made in a forest plan and at the site level. Grizzly bears don’t pay attention to watershed boundaries, so they go into forest level management. Key concepts: spatial hierarchy of management direction; emphasis on goals and objectives (not standards); graphical presentation of management direction (focused on maps). Prototype designed under staged decision-making. Gives examples of how to get to objectives, but is not prescriptive. It supports public participation - focus on problem solving with the public. Designed for adaptability - change direction for an area when new information becomes available. Forest plans are not the final answer, e.g. must integrate change based on monitoring. They put their plan in a three-ring binder so pages can be replaced.

 

George Weldon - Helena National Forest, Townsend District Ranger

Planning regulations must be implementable on the ground. Helena National Forest developed a strategy of dividing the Forest into four geographical areas (don’t correspond to ranger districts, but reflect public knowledge). Completed four landscape assessments. Established priorities and scheduled. Updated the forest plan in the Elkhorns based on assessment information. Use the assessment analysis as move forward with implementing the forest plan. Get input from BLM, USFWS, NPS. Nothing implemented without input from these agencies. This process was cost-effective - pooled resources between agencies.. Forest plan published in pocket version. Some issues were not addressed, e.g. travel corridors between the Forest and Yellowstone National Park. Money better spent on implementing decisions on the ground rather than doing more planning on top of these assessments. If you have a dollar to invest, and you spend 99 cents on planning, one cent is not enough to implement.

 

Jon Haber, Planner

Streamlining the process could eliminate NEPA at the forest planning level. Could do consulting with regulatory agencies in a more efficient and meaningful way. Other regulations need to be looked at to provide a meaningful planning process. There are rules about NEPA being required that have a significant effect on the environment. Need the two-stage process, or multi-stage, but don’t need to penalize for this by requiring NEPA more than once. Does not imply that public participation should not occur at various levels. Contrast collaboration with traditional NEPA process. NEPA really an adversarial process: we propose, they counter-propose. Could use NEPA process or terminology, but have collaboration throughout - through purpose and need development, alternative development, proposed action, effects analysis, and decision-making (barring FACA). Would be more efficient; could eliminate alternatives early in the process without fully analyzing. Currently required to look at a whole realm of environmental effects that need not apply to reasonable alternatives. Forest plans can be developed so won’t adversely affect threatened & endangered populations through informal consultation. In the diversity clause, could change maintaining ‘listed’ species to maintaining ‘recovered’ species.

 

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Panel

 

Cary Hegreberg - Montana Wood Products Assoc.

The Yellowstone ecosystem is subject to a lot of different perspectives. Rancorous debates about wolves and bison are more about philosophy than ecosystems. Handed out "PERC Reports" - another perspective. Hal Salwasser (former Regional Forester) said he would not allow the overgrazing going on in Yellowstone National Park to go on in the national forests. Understory removal sounded good to the President until he learned that it had to be done with a chainsaw. Roads are described as bleeding sores on the landscape. Some describe Yellowstone as the greatest fish habitat because of cold, clear waters, but fires raged through the Park and blackened riparian areas. A truck was parked outside the meeting yesterday with names of sawmills that have closed. Jobs and quality of life were eliminated because of the failure of the USFS to come to grips with how to manage the ecosystem. Bull elk will be vulnerable to hunters, leaving an excess of cows and calves. See the biggest kills of elk during early storms when elk are forced down to lower elevations. Beaverhead National Forest had their timber cut drop to 7.5 million board feet per year. Often hear how timber has driven the forest plans, but you can look at statistics to see that timber is not part of the process now. Comparison to Russia - cruel and cold. Don’t let perceptions dictate how we regard the timber industry.

 

Michael Scott - Greater Yellowstone Coalition

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is headquartered in Bozeman, and has a staff of about 20. Many of their members are groups and businesses. Incorporate seven national forests in three regions. Several wildlife refuges. Greatest impediment to managing at an ecosystem scale lies in differing management policies. Yellowstone area is the fastest growing region in the country. Despite this, some areas are becoming more isolated. A lot of roadless lands exist. The area supports large numbers of wildlife. Trend of private lands being developed. Would like to see a direction within NFMA where oil and gas leasing, for example, is not dominant. Need for the forests to view themselves differently - as refuges. Fifty percent of grizzly bear habitat in lower 48 states is in this area. Permanently protect roadless areas. Rare species exist here. Must ensure that the viability requirement is strengthened in two ways: 1) persistence, 2) just because there are grizzlies in good habitat on a forest does not mean that harvest can then happen there. Coordinating Committee does one primary thing: provide a vision of the forests based on the aggregation of individual forest plans. They do not recognize that they are part of a larger ecosystem. Forests should identify specific ecosystem values, then identify and coordinate measures to protect values. NFMA regulations change on Section 7 reserves; required to consult with the National Park. The functioning core reserve area is in the Park. Must be a monitoring and adaptive management loop. The Targhee National Forest acknowledged that they won’t see the results of the last management plan until far into the future. Should be an explicit tie of good monitoring to implementation. The science function in NFMA should be strengthened. The Caribou National Forest produced a landscape analysis that did not agree with a fire analysis done by others. Commendable that USFS moving into landscape analyses, but troubling trend - forests move into the next step of decision-making without using NEPA. They identify areas suitable for motorized recreation, including snowmobiling, with no opportunity for the public to provide input. They plan to implement more snowmobiling trails than ever before, and have not been through a NEPA process. When looking at decisions, should be a NEPA process. This area holds half the worlds geysers, large numbers of ungulates, is very unique ecologically. Provides a great opportunity to look at how to implement ecosystem management.

 

Mark Petroni - Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF, Madison District Ranger

Several changes have affected the ecosystem over the last 12 years. Coordination problems between the forest plans. Looked at combined values and developed a combined vision. Political complexity of the greater Yellowstone - people were concerned about a document that identified goals and objectives of such a large area. Commodity users did not like the document. Goals and objectives never materialized because of political dissatisfaction. The Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (two national park superintendents and six national forest supervisors, 2 regional foresters) steer direction of where to go from here. Aggressively pursuing landscape analysis through a formal memorandum of understanding. Department of State Lands, BLM, USFS, NPS, and everyone with any statutory authority sits on the steering group. Picked the landscape, convened public meetings, defined citizen’s social goals and objectives. Developed a social assessment and a biological profile. Citizens convened a forum to analyze issues. They are building goals and objectives for this landscape through collaboration, and are rebuilding the vision document. They are identifying values that will protect the system, but will be acceptable to people. Have some region-wide issues to be addressed: wolves, grizzly bears, corridors, people, winter use.

 

John Varley - Center for Natural Resource Management and Results, Yellowstone National Park

NPS and USFS very different agencies. Enabling regulations have different focuses. When NPS sat back and worried about their own areas, it was easier. But in the 1960’s, ecologists entered the world. They said Yellowstone is not an ecosystem; it is just a square. Herds go beyond, geology goes beyond. People started to look across political boundaries for the first time. Yellowstone National Park has been subjected to changing policies - people used to climb all over geysers. Favoring some desirable species over others is how we lost the wolves. We tend to keep the Park how it "should" look according to society. The Park influences the Forests as well as vice versa. In the last decade, more efforts have been made to preserve the ecosystem. It is widely believed that grizzly bears needed twice the size of the park. Need to have the adjacent national forest boundaries plugged into their management. Need a boundary outside the Park to protect the geothermal layer and other natural features. Most of the resource issues can be traced to the broad umbrella of an ecosystem problem. Grizzly mortality is an ecosystem problem. Here they have ‘exploding biodiversity’ (vs. declining) because of a vast array of plants being brought in from all reaches of the earth. Trout whirling disease came from Europe. In 1994, they discovered the New Zealand mud snail in a local river; this species is expanding at a rapid rate. People who live here feel they should have a vote and a half. But this is a national park, and a national scope is invited into the dialogue. The Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee has done some visionary work since the 1960’s. In the mid-1980’s, changing focuses cost some people jobs. "Bureaucracy does not reward adventurism." Tension developed between the NPS and USFS - oil and gas leasing, mines, etc. Relationship not as effective as could be or once was. Hope we get back into it with the current focus. Penchant for building working groups, ad hoc or formal, to work on specific issues, e.g. trumpeter swan, winter range for elk, etc. Young, enthusiastic people can hammer out something that makes sense. Unintended oversights and honest disagreements because of statutory regulations. Need to build lines of communication even when consensus not the expected outcome. Sharing of knowledge about goals and outcomes important.

 

State of Montana Representatives

 

State Representative Aubyn Curtiss

A Record of Decision reached on Interior Columbia Basin Management Project was a radical departure from the concept of multiple use. The driving force behind ecosystem management is restoring to a utopian landscape from before human control. USFS Chief Dombeck’s address for the 21st century says the desires of the American people is to restore natural resources. Most public opinion is shaped by the public discourse of people who have an agenda. Counter to Dombeck’s vision of his agency’s mission, Senators Murkowsky, Craig, Chenoweth, and Smith find no real collaboration within government to streamline the legal morass the agency finds itself in. Clear that costs of management of national forests are increasing. In light of diminishing returns, the time may have come to divest ourselves of them. The current administration seems oblivious to communities in the West. Vulnerability of sparsely populated communities is recognized, but not considered in decision-making. Counties in the Columbia River Basin may no longer be self-sustaining. Policy decisions are made at both the state and federal levels. Approximately 75% of her county is publicly owned. The Kootenai National Forest’s record of avoiding litigation is commendable. In public discourse, the term "renewable" is deleted by people not familiar with forest health. Westerners do not want subsidies; they want a way of life. People are considering ecosystem management instead of multiple use. Obliterating of hundreds of miles of forest roads before the moratorium is analyzed is putting the cart before the horse. Statistics indicate that 80% of recreational use is driving for pleasure.

 

State Representative Marion Hanson

Representative Hanson owns a ranch. She and her husband are still arguing about USFS management. She is representing her own ranch and other ranchers in her District. If the USFS was doing a good job, there would not be the polarization there is now. In the 1960’s, permittees were told to do restoration. The only change is that there is more grass for fire. Fire has opened up a lot of grassland. USFS holds all permittees to the standards of the worst rancher. Should not act like a king; should work with the ranchers. Ranchers were true environmentalists before the word became popular. USFS is removing timber harvest, mining, livestock from forestland.

 

Collaboration Panel

 

Don Snow - Northern Lights Institute

Saw a presentation by Al Sample, who said, "Decentralized decision-making and close working relationships with local communities have been the key to USFS longevity and success." The agency did not deliberately centralize, according to Jack Ward Thomas. The USFS was a model public agency for many years. Don has been doing collaborative work at Northern Lights for 15 years. Mixed results - some astonishing successes, some dismal failures. In appropriate settings, collaboration can be powerful. It is not all compromise, more about civic cooperation. "Chronicle of Community" - their journal. Has great faith in these processes when used in appropriate settings. Collaborative processes have the ability to restore and renew people’s faith in governance. Before we go farther with the war of the west and contentious issues, we should develop a healing process.

 

Dan Kemmis - Director, Center for the Rocky Mountain West

Dan has been the mayor of Missoula and Speaker of the House in the past. If he had to choose for Montana’s forests a top-down Washington policy or Don Snow’s local collaboration, he would choose the latter. Three major forces are at work throughout the West now: 1) Downsizing of the USFS; continual loss of person-power to do the job. 2) Work to be done is being steadily increased; has been the fastest growing region in the West for a decade. 3) Tremendous growth in the collaboration movement; this is where the real vitality exists in the West, and where a difference being made. The first two forces have a scissor-like effect; the latter where the hope lies. Collaboration is so important in the context of the other two forces. Where is the help going to come from? From the westerners who live in this ecosystem. Only way to get their productive help in managing this ecosystem is through collaboration. More decentralized approach. There is a countervailing voice here that says these are national forests, and we must give equal weight to everyone. "Flourishing communities are the foundation of a healthy society." How does an agency like the USFS go about responding to this suggestion. While there is no going back to old times, there is also not the possibility of going forward with one clear vision. The West has not ripened to the point of no conflict, and that would be a top-down policy anyway. Must enter, quite consciously, into a period of learning. Many people outside and within the West do not trust westerners to do what is right. The only way to establish trust is to give locals a chance to prove good methods. Lets build into the regulations a pilot for a collaborative learning process.

 

End of Meeting Notes