June 24, 1998; TELECONFERENCE
Minutes of June 24th Teleconference Call with Committee of Scientists
Meeting with Secretary of Agriculture
Dr. Johnson discussed with the committee the tentative date of July 17th for the committee to meet with Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, to discuss the report and recommendations of the committee. The committee intends to also brief Under Secretary Jim Lyons and the Chief of the Forest Service Mike Dombeck, during that week.
The committee established two sub-committees: Ecological Sustainability; and, Economic and Social Sustainability. These sub-committees will report back to the full committee on the July 8 telephone conference call.
Discussion of Indian Tribal Rights
Dr. Ron Trosper led a discussion on the importance of Indian tribal rights. The committee believes that these rights need to be explicitly recognized in the Forest Service planning process. There was also a discussion about the Hispanic land grants in the Southwest. The committee recognized that there was a different legal and historical relationship between Indian tribal rights and Hispanic land grants.
Discussion of Suitability of Land for Resource Management
Dr. Norm Johnson led a discussion about a proposed new section for Chapter 3, which would address the need to identify and map the suitability of lands for more resource management. Resources to be included might be grazing, recreation, mining (leasable minerals), Wilderness, and special forest products. The Committee suggested that the resources selected for analysis be chosen during the planning process, rather being required in all plans.
There was a suggestion to develop a separate section in the report on grazing. This section might include a discussion of the process used by BLM that sets national standards for rangeland health. Alternatively, range suitability analysis might be better addressed as part of biological assessments.
Committee Discussion with Jim Loesel of Citizen's Task Force
The committee invited Jim Loesel of the Citizen's Task Force to discuss his experiences in planning with the Forest Service, particularly the Southern Appalachian Assessment(SAA). Mr. Loesel has extensive experience as a citizen working with George Washington/ Jefferson National Forests in Virginia. He discussed the importance of having all parts of the Forest Service involved in developing the assessment--District; Forest and Region. He thought that the SAA example could not be replicated across the country. Each assessment has to address its own set of issues and concerns.
Comparison of Current Planning Process and Committee Proposal
Dr. Johnson described a chart that he developed to display the current planning process and the committee's proposal. There was a discussion of Regional Guides and assessments. The committee agrees that assessments should not be decision documents requiring NEPA. There was a general discussion by the committee with some regional planning directors about the proposed strategy on planning. The planners on the call had a number of comments about the concepts discussed in the committee's proposal. Some expressed concern about requiring the strategy to be applied consistently across different parts of the country, and about the time that might be taken during development of assessments if "current" data is not used. Others expressed concerns about the role of small landscape plans and the need to allow small individual projects, like special use permits, to be handled separately. There was also concern about how the amendment and revision processes would be handled in the proposed strategy.
A few members of the Committee agreed to work on revisions to Chapter 4 during the next several days and post a new version on the Web Page around June 29.