The Quincy Library Group was been hailed as a model for
how People of all persuasions living in rural, western
communities can pull together to find common ground on natural
resource issues. In this guise it has won the support of
California's two senators and an array of politicians who span
the gamut from right-wing, anti-environmental war horses like
Wally Herger (R, Ca), Helen Chenowith (R, Id) and Frank Riggs (R,
Ca), to liberal environmental champions like George Miller (D,
Ca) and Bruce Vento (D, Mn). But is the Quincy Library Group a
good model for efforts to find community consensus and a peaceful
end to western natural resource wars? We believe it is
not and here's why:
At about the same time Quincy environmental lawyer Michael Jackson was contacted by Sierra Pacific Industries through a local intermediary, SPI contacted KFA's executive director, Felice Pace, in the same manner. The result - The Siskiyou Forest Management Roundtable - ended when timber interests attempted to blackball Pace's organization for filing appeals of the Klamath and Shasta-Trinity National Forest Plans. In the process of two years of work as part of the Roundtable, Felice and other KFA folks discovered that the real motive of the timber barons and their operatives was not "common ground" but rather splitting local forest activists from their regional and national allies in order to stem the rising tide of forest protection and return to the good old days of dominance by Big Timber. When KFA insisted that it would make no agreements that were not supported by its allies in the California Ancient Forest Alliance, the Industry sought for a way to get Felice and KFA out of the Roundtable. Because the other local environmental organizations refused to go along, the Roundtable ended.
Motives aside, what is it about the Quincy Library Group that makes it a bad model of Community Stewardship?
The Quincy Library Group (QLG) proposal for management of the Lassen, Plumas and part of the Tahoe National Forests is not a local initiative. Rather, it was born in the board room of Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), the largest timber company in California and the second largest landowner in the US. The QLG proposal before Congress is essential the same plan that SPI manager Tom Nelson took first to Bill Coates (a long-time timber industry supporter) and then to Quincy environmental lawyer Michael Jackson. SPI is not a "local" company; it is based in Anderson in Shasta County which is a 2-3 hour drive from Quincy which is in Plumas County. Nelson and all other SPI operatives involved in the QLG live not in Quincy or in Plumas County but near corporate HQ. SPI is a predatory company. It has specialized in gobbling up small family mills on its way to virtual dominance of Northern Interior California timber markets. The QLG plan is part of that plan and furthers SPI's drive toward dominance by concentrating California public land logging in the area where they enjoy a competitive advantage. Furthermore timber industry members of the QLG have proven by their actions that they are not really interested in finding common ground with the environmental community. SPI and Collins Pine members of the QLG regularly attend the anti-environmental "Fly In For Freedom" and other events of the "Use Movement" where they trash individuals and groups working to protect forests.
Second, the California environmental community - grassroots, regional and national organizations - have proven that they were willing to support a true test of the QLG/SPI management scheme. In negotiations moderated by Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Jim Lyons, we offered to support the QLG program through strong language and funding in the 1998 Forest Service Appropriations legislation. The QLG rejected that proposal. This reveled that there was another, hidden agenda. In the hands of the anti-environmental Republican Congress, the QLG has become the model for returning western public lands to Industry control in the guise of "community consensus".
Third, One of the most basic principles of "consensus management" efforts is that all those with an interest - the "stakeholders" in the jargon of the day - must be afforded a seat at the table. Not only did members of the QLG deny meaningful involvement by national environmental groups, they failed to include or involve critical local stakeholders which are based on the forests in which they want to implement their Plan. For example, there has been no attempt to involve the Pit River Tribe, whose unceded ancestral lands comprise a good part of the Lassen National Forest, nor has the QLG held meetings in Burney or other communities in the Lassen Forest. Rather, local Quincy folks and Sierra Pacific Industries assume they have the right to impose their vision of forest management on a much larger land-base.
Community-based stewardship of public lands is long overdue in the West and our best current hope for establishing a true commons. Experiments to date indicate that these efforts work best if they are operated by local non-governmental organizations, take the necessary time to involve all stakeholders in the process, and are not dominated by big timber. The Quincy Library Group fails on all counts.
Those who care about the environmental, social and economic
future of the rural West need to take action to prevent Big
Timber dominated Quincy Library Group from becoming the chief
model for western public land management. If you are
someone who cares please take time to contact the President and
key Clinton Administration Officials. Urge them to reject the
Quincy Library Group model and the legislation which would
implement that vision. A veto by the President would send a
clear message to Big Timber that it can't co-opt the movement for
true stakeholder consensus and community stewardship in order to
retain dominance in the rural West. Ask President Clinton to veto
the Quincy Library Group Bill when it comes to him from
Congress. Remind him that there are plenty of better
models emerging in the West that deserve his support and which
promise much more for communities and the environment. Please
President Bill Clinton
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Kathleen McGinty, Director
Council on Enviro. Quality
Rm.360 Old Exec. Building
Washington, DC 20501
Dan Glickman, Secretary
US Dept. Of Agriculture
14th & Indep.Ave.,SW
Washington, DC 20250
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