THE CONSERVATIONIST ALTERNATIVE
TO THE PLUMAS NATIONAL FOREST LAND MANAGEMENT PLAN
Developed and submitted by:
Friends of Plumas Wilderness
Mother Lode Chapter Sierra Club
Northstate Wilderness Committee
Altacal Audubon Society
Exhibit A -4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|I. Introduction||Page 1|
|II. Comparing The Conservationist Alternative||Page 2|
|III. Management Areas & Resource Issues||Page 3|
|A. Wilderness||Page 3|
|B. Backcountry Areas||Page 4|
|C. Scenic Recreation Areas||Page 5|
|D. Conservations Areas of Special Concern||Page 7|
|IV. Timber Management||Page 10|
|V. Grazing & Range Management||Page 12|
|VI. Streamside Management Zones||Page 13|
|VII. Potential Wild & Scenic River Candidates||Page 14|
|VIII. Mining||Page 14|
|IX. Visual Quality Protection||Page 14|
|X. Trail System||Page 15|
|XI. Developed Recreation||Page 16|
|XII. Monitoring & Budget||Page 16|
|XIII. Appendix||Page 16|
The Conservationist Alternative was developed by concerned citizens in response to one of the most complicated and controversial planning efforts ever carried out for public lands in the United States. The National Forest Management Act of 1976 mandates the development of forest-wide land management plans for every National Forest. The plans are intended to allocate specific portions of each forest to a wide variety, of uses and resource development including timber, minerals, range, recreation, wildlife, watershed and wilderness.
National Forest land management plans will be released in draft form for public review and comment. Each draft plan will be accompanied by a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will allow the public to compare the proposed plan with several alternative plans. The EIS will also provide information concerning the environmental and economic impacts of each alternative.
Concerned citizens from various environmental groups have been participating in the planning process on the Plumas National Forest since 1980. Conservationists developed a proposed plan for the Plumas Forest in 1982. Their plan, which was named the Conservationist Alternative, provided for an equitable mix of uses and resource development while maintaining the ecological balance and diversity of the forest. Some portions of the original Conservationist Alternative were adopted by the Forest Service and incorporated into the so called Amenities alternative which will be presented in the draft EIS for the Plumas Forest plan. Other specifics in the Conservationist Alternative were not accepted by the Forest Service.
Since important aspects of the Conservationist Alternative were not adopted by the Forest Service for display in the plan EIS and realizing that some major changes have occurred in the planning process since 1982 concerned citizens have revised the Conservationist Alternative. The revised Alternative is based upon a number of basic premises. These are:
* The National Forest planning process is biased towards the production of timber and other commodities. In fact, timber production drives the computerized planning process. All other National Forest uses and resources, although equal under the federal multiple use act, are considered as constraints on timber production. Conservationists are aware that the planning process is, in effect, a stacked deck. The Conservationist Alternative and persistent conservationist participation in the planning process is an attempt to shuffle the, stacked deck so that the biological environment, as well as other forest users and resources, is equally analyzed along with timber production.
* So called non-commodities produced by the Plumas National Forest such as scenery, primitive recreation, watershed not managed for
Water production, and non-game wildlife can be economically, competitive with so called commodities such as timber, range, minerals and water for irrigation and energy production. This is based on the assumption that all economic factors, negative and positive, are adequately, balanced and considered, especially, existing federal subsidies for timber, water production and range.
* Portions of the Plumas National Forest can be left untouched and allocated under a minimum level of management and still produce resources and provide for uses valuable to the public including primitive recreation, wildlife, clean water, clean air and maintenance of ecological diversity, and gene resources for scientific study.
* Timber management must be based upon realistic costs and values, as well as a realistic assessment of the future need for timber products. Timber management must also be based on public support. Hence, management systems that call for extensive clear cutting and the use of herbicides are not acceptable due to widespread public opposition.
* The local economy of Plumas County should be based upon a healthy mix of timber, tourism, recreation, human services and light industry. An economy based upon one commodity, such as timber is inherently weak and unstable.
II. COMPARING THE CONSERVATIONIST ALTERNATIVE
Similar to the Forest Service planning effort, the Conservationist Alternative allocates various portions of the Plumas National Forest to various levels of management. The difference between the Conservationist Alternative and the other alternatives, including the proposed plan presented by the Forest Service is the planning for ecological integrity and the use of realistic values and costs in the Conservationist Alternative. Management areas are not regarded as separate entities but allocated to various levels of management based upon solid ecological principles.
For example: Over 30% of the water in streams, rivers and lakes on the Plumas Forest is in a degraded condition and is not meeting state water quality standards. The degradation is due primarily to siltation and erosion caused by mining, road construction, logging and other soil disturbing activities. The Forest Service is attempting to deal with this problem through the use of so called best management practices even though the use of these practices over the last 10 years has not prevented water quality, degradation. The Conservationist Alternative integrates stronger protections for streams and lakes while allocating areas that are currently, undisturbed to a minimum level of management. Minimum level management retains the land for possible future use when and if technology allows feasible development without disrupting the ecological balance. Ecological integrity is a priority in the Conservationist Alternative while it often is not even considered in Forest Service alternatives. Conservationists view the Plumas National Forest as a biological system rather than a simple administrative unit.
III. MANAGEMENT AREAS
AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO
RESOURCE ISSUES OF CONCERN TO THE PUBLIC
Area(s) Affected: Bucks Lake Wilderness and proposed Wilderness additions.
Issue: The public is very concerned about the protection of resources and values associated with roadless areas and wilderness. Roadless areas are a true multiple use which provide for primitive recreation wildlife, watershed and in the case of Congressionally designated Wilderness; minerals and range.
Management Situation: 21,000 acre Bucks Lake Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1964 after a strong show of local pubic support from Plumas County. There is about 12,500 acres of de-facto roadless acreage in the vicinity of Serpentine Canyon, Camp Rogers Saddle, Bucks Creek, Bald Eagle Mountain and Bucks Mountain that, is contiguous to the existing wilderness area.
Allocation All the defacto roadless acreage contiguous to the Bucks Lake Wilderness should be recommended as wilderness additions in the Plumas Forest plan. Addition of these areas will round out the wilderness by protecting highly scenic recreation areas ranging from low elevation canyons to high glaciated uplands with several lakes and streams.
Management Prescription and Specific Comments: The Bucks Lake Wilderness will be managed as a major primitive recreation user destination with an emphasis on dispersing use throughout the area. A management plan should be developed. The allocation calls for the closure of the Bald Eagle Mountain jeep trail where it intersects the northern boundary line of section 22. PG&E's pipeline road to Three Lakes will remain open to provide for public motorized access, to wilderness trailheads. Signs should be limited to trailheads. Grazing permits within the existing wilderness and proposed additions will be reviewed and studied and grazing will be prohibited in the vicinity of water sources to preserve water quality for public recreation consumption. Grazing impacts should be completely studied in the Wilderness Management Plan. Natural fires will become a major management tool in terms of maintaining the ecological balance. Major trails will be maintained annually while secondary, trails are maintained on a rotating basis. Wilderness permits will be issued through a trail register system at all trailheads. Mining claims will be reviewed to determine existing valid rights using records of annual work performance and the prudent man test. Proposals to develop existing valid mineral rights will require a separate EIS in order to insure that impacts on the wilderness environment and recreation are fully considered private land in section 16 should be acquired.
B) BACKCOUNTRY RECREATION AREAS
Area(s) Affected: Chips Creek, Middle Fork, Grizzly Peak and Adams Peak roadless areas.
Issue: The public is very concerned about the protection of resources and values associated with roadless areas. Public concern for roadless area protection remains unaffected by official Congressional release of roadless areas prohibiting the Wilderness option during the current planning cycle. The preferred alternative other than Congressionally, designated Wilderness status is administrative protection of roadless values.
Management Situation: Of 100,599 acres of officially, inventoried roadless land in 9 roadless areas, 79,599 acres in 8 roadless areas were released for potential development by Congress in 1984. While preventing any further wilderness consideration during the present round of planning, Congressional release language does call for, a released roadless area to be considered for the full range of management options; from development to administrative protection other than wilderness.
Allocation: The Chipps Creek, Middle Fork, Grizzly Peak and Adams Peak roadless areas are allocated to Backcountry Recreation Area Management.
Management Prescription and Specific Comments: The primary intent is to manage and provide for primitive recreation and other noncommodity, values on a local or near-region recreation basis. Other than noted exceptions, no motorized access is allowed. Timber management is prohibited. Grazing is restricted from water sources necessary for public recreation consumption. Special use permits for small hydro projects will not be issued by the Forest Service. Development of existing valid mineral rights are allowed only if such development does not impact the natural recreational environment. Visitor permits are not required but trail registers are established at major trailheads in order to provide user data. Major trails are maintained on an occasional when needed basis. No new trail construction. Areas without existing trails will remain without trails.
1) Chips Creek: Backcountry allocations emphasises a wide variety of primitive recreation. Routes such as the Pacific Crest Trail provide easy well maintained access, with a trailhead serviced by public transportation. Secondary routes include Yellow Creek and Chambers Creek trails. Allocation provides additional protection to the Yellow Creek Wild Trout Stream, native fisheries in Indian and Chips Creeks, as well as scenic waterfalls on Rock and Chambers Creeks. Allocation preserves the pristine watershed values of major tributaries to the North Fork Feather River.
2) Middle Fork: The primary purpose of this allocation is to preserve the immediate canyon and major tributary watersheds of the Middle Fork
Wild and Scenic River. Secondary intent is to preserve existing primitive recreation values, especially several well used foot trails leading into the Middle Fork canyon to the Wild and Scenic River boundary. Off road vehicle use of the Stag Point and Cleghorn Bar trails is allowed. All other off road vehicle trails should be closed. Private land should be acquired. Commercial rafting use by Forest Service special permit should completely studied in a formal EIS, allowing for full public particpation. Placer dredging should only be allowed on valid, existing claims using the prudent man test as the determining factor. Motorized recreational dredging should be prohibited.
3) Grizzly Peak: Backcountry allocation intended to preserve the pristine, wild and virtually inaccessible nature of this small, but scenically important roadless area. Preservation of the the wild viewshed that dominates the Genessee Valley is a primary concern. No trails are to be constructed. Flat flood plain areas immediately adjacent to Indian Creek and the Montgomery Creek primitive trail will provide most of the recreational use.
4) Adams Peak: Eastside backdrop scenic values will be preserved under the backcountry allocat i on for this area. Adams Peak provides a unique opportunity to preserve the forest/desert ecotone under roadless and near-Wilderness conditions.
C) SCENIC RECREATION AREAS
Area(s) Affected: Existing Feather Falls Scenic Area with some minor additions and the proposed Lakes Basin-Nelson Creek-Yuba Scenic Area.
Issue: How shall areas with a combination of roadless resources and scenic values providing exceptional opportunities for primitive and developed recreation be managed and protected.
Management Situation: The existing Feather Falls Scenic Area and the Lakes Basin Recreation are heavily used for recreational purposes. But the areas are small and opportunities for a wide variety of recreational uses are limited by contrdicting uses improper recognition of valuable scenic resources and the lack administrative direction.
Management Prescription and Specific-Area Comments: Both the Feather Falls and the Lakes Basin areas contain roadless areas, roaded areas and high scenic and recreational values centered around water (lakes and streams). The intent of the Scenic Recreational allocation is to provide a mix of primitive and developed recreation on a regionl or even statewide destination basis. Existing roadless areas including Bald Rock, Dixon Creek, Nelson Canyon, Bluenose, McCrae Ridge, East Yuba, West Yuba and Lakes Basin will be managed under the Backcountry Recreation prescription. Most existing roads providing public access to various portions of the Scenic Areas will remain open. Roads
constructed primarily for logging purposes will be closed and rehabilitated. Grazing will be prohibited in the vicinity of developed recreation areas and near water sources necessary for public recreation consumption. Development of valid existing mineral rights will be allowed only if it does not conflict with recreational uses and resources. Existing developed campgrounds will be maintained or improved. Other developed campsites should be developed where feasible without environmental conflicts. Areas currently managed for timber can continue to be managed and harvested on a selective basis only. Existing primitive trails providing access to major recreation destinations will be upgraded and maintained. New trails to major recreation destinations will be constructed where environmentally feasible. All trails will be closed to motorized use except for designated snowmobile trails.
1) Feather Falls Scenic Area: Intent is to provide a wide range of recreational experiences on a all season basis. Extend Scenic Area boundaries up the drainages of the Fall River, South Brance and Little North Fork to preserve unique stream values and fisheries. Incorporate Big Bald Rock into the Scenic Area as a dayuse site and to preserve geologic values. Study the feasibility of developing campgrounds in already roaded areas on the Fall River, Little North Fork and the South Branch. Special use permits will not be granted for small hydro development in order to preserve the scenic waterfalls on the Fall River, Adams Creek, Brush Creek, Frey Creek, South Branch and Little North Fork. Complete construction of the Seven Falls Trail and upgrade the primitive trail along the Fall River. Existing Feather Falls Trail and Bald Dome Trails will be maintained as major recreational access points. The Fall River from Nelson Crossing to the Middle Fork confluence should be included within the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
2) Lakes Basin-Nelson Creek-Yuba Scenic Area: The existing Lakes Basin Recreation Area will be expanded to include unroaded and roaded areas in the vicinity of McCrae Ridge, Beartrap roadless area, Blue Nose roadless area, Nelson Creek, Dixon Creek , roadless area Mount Fillmore, Table Rock, the West Yuba roadless area, Lavezzola and Pauley Creeks, East Yuba roadless area, the Sierra Buttes, the Tahoe Forest portion of the Lakes Basin area, Frazier Falls and Frazier Creek. The primary intent is to provide a wide range of recreational experiences on a all season basis while preventing overuse and preserving water quality in major streams and lakes. Overnight use in the existing Lakes Basin area will be limited through the use of a qouta system due to resource damage associated with current overuse. Overnight recreationists will be encouraged to visit other portions of the Scenic Area through the upgrading and maintenance of trails in the vicinity of Nelson Creek, Lavezzola Creek, Pauley Creek and Rattlesnake Creek. Study the feasibility of developing campgrounds in already roaded or developed portions of lower Lavezzola Creek or McCrae Ridge. Establish cross country ski trails on Roads 501 and 507 and where winter access is feasible. Road 519 is designated for snowmobile use.
CONSERVATION AREAS OF SPECIAL CONCERN
Area(s) Affected: Special Conservation Areas 1-46 (see Specific list below).
Issue : How shall Special forest values be protected and managed?
Management Situation: Current Forest management does not acknowledge, plan for or protect special resources and values that are great concern to the public. Area specific protection for rare plants and wildlife, unique geological regions, small recreation sites and sensitive watersheds is usually, on an ad hoc basis, (if at all) as development plans (such as timber sales) are formulated.
Management Prescription and Specific Area Comments: Conservation Areas of Special Concern are removed from the timber base in order to preserve unique forest values. Road building, mining and grazing is prohibited. Depending upon specific area emphasis, management to enhance the values associated with the area will be allowed. Vegetation rehabilitation would be an emphasis in areas intended for visual and watershed protection. Public interpretive facilities could be provided in unique botanical, geological or scenic areas. If this activity does not affect ecological integrity. Some areas, especially in the Indian Creek watershed, are allocated to minimum level management, their relatively, pristine watershedvalues banked to preserve water quality. Many areas provide will be managed for a variety of non-commodity values including low levels of dispersed, non-motorized recreation.
1) Buttefly Valley Botanical Area: The existing boundaries are expanded. Pr i vate inholdings should be acquired and added to the botanical area on a willing seller basis.
2) Feather Falls: Issuance of a Forest Service special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
3) Frazier Falls: Issuance of a Forest Service Special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
4) Challenge: Old growth and botanical values are protected from development activities.
5) Fowler Lake Geological: Special values protected. Possible public interpretive site. Manage for dispersed non-motorized recreation.
6) Indian Falls and Soda Rock Travertine: Special values protected. Manage for day use recreation. Issuance of a Forest Service special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited. Cultural values and significance should be preserved.
7) Mount Pleasant Research Natural Area: Special botanical values are protected. Grazing is specifically prohibited. Overnight recreation
should be restricted.
8) Crystal Lake-Mount Hough: Scenic, dispersed recreation, wildlife and watershed values are protected from further logging and roadbuilding.
9) Spanish Peak-Silver Lake Scenic and recreation values are protected. Use levels should be monitored and quotas established when needed to prevent overuse.
10) Washoe Pine Botanical: Special values protected.
11) Dixie Mountain Scenic: Manage for scenic values and dispersed, non-motorized recreation.
12) Little Last Chance Canyon Scenic: Manage for scenic values and dispersed, non-motorized recreation.
13) Devil's Punch Bowl Scenic: Manage for scenic values and dispersed, non-motorized recreation.
14) Little Volcanoe Scenic Manage for scenic values and dispersed, non-motorized recreation.
15) Diamond Mountain Botanical Protect special botanical values. Manage for dispersed, non-motorized day use recreation and visual values.
16) Big Bald Rock: Protect special values. Manage for dispersed day use recreation.
17) Thompson Peak: Retain roadless qualities. Manage for dispersed, non-motorized recreation and visual/watershed values.
18) Keddie Ridge: Manage for visual and watershed values. Revegetate and rehabilitate burn area. Cultural values and significance should be preserved.
19) Indicator Peak: Manage for visual/watershed values.
20) Antelope Backdrop: Manage for visual/watershed values
21) Mosquito-Creek: Manage for watershed values.
22) Rush Creek: Manage for watershed values
23) Penman Peak: Manage for scenic values and dispersed recreation.
24) Spanish Creek Recreation and Riparian: Manage for dispersed, non-motorized recreation and protect riparian, fisheries, and wildlife resources. Issuance of new USFS special use permits or expansion of
existing permits for gravel extraction is prohibited. Issuance of special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
25) Indian Creek Recreation and Riparian: Manage for dispersed, non-motorized recreation and protect riparian, fisheries and wildlife resources. Issuance of special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
26) Squaw Peak: Minimum level management to retain undisturbed watershed.
27) Red Clover 1: Minimum level management to retain undisturbed watershed. Managed for dispersed, non-motorized recreation along streams.
28) Red Clover 2: Minimum level management to retain undisturbed watershed. Managed for dispersed, non-motorized recreation along streams.
29) Big Last Chance: Minimum level management to retain undisturbed watershed. Managed for dispersed, non-motorized recreation along streams.
30) Hosseikus-Wheeler: Minimum level management to retain undisturbed watershed. Managed for dispersed, non-motorized recreation along streams.
31) Peters Creek: Minimum level management to retain undisturbed watershed. Manage for dispersed, non-motorized recreation along streams. Historic Peters Creek trail should be preserved and maintained.
32) Claremont Managed for watershed and visual values. Rehabilitate logged areas. No new road construction allowed. Emphasis is to provide high quality water.
33) Slate Creek: Manage for watershed, fisheries, wildlife and dispersed, non-motorized recreation. Issuance of special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
34) Canyon Creek: Manage for watershed, fisheries, wiIdlife and dispersed, non-motorized recreation. Issuance of special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
35) South Branch: Manage for watershed, fisheries, wildlife and dispersed, non-motorized recreation. Issuance of special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
36) Hungry/Middle Creek: Retain old growth upstream of the confluence of Middle and Hungry Creeks. Manage for non-motorized recreation and wildlife values.
37) North Fork Feather: Manage for watershed, visual disperesed recreation, fisheries and wildlife. Retain undeveloped nature of tributaries, especially, scenic waterfalls visible from Highway 70. Issuance of special use permit small hydro development on tributaries within the canyon is prohibited.
38) Big Bend: Manage for wildlife. Acquire inholdings on a willing seller basis to preserve habitat for endangered species.
39) Hinchman Ravine: Manage for watershed, dispersed non-motorized recreation and wildlife values. Retain old growth.
40) McKesick Peak: Manage for watershed, visual values and dispersed non-motorized recreation. Retain roadiess values.
41) Grizzly Creek: Manage for watershed, dispersed non-motorized recreation, fisheries and wildlife. Issuance of special use permit for small hydro development is prohibited.
42) Baker Cypress Botanical: Protect special values.
43) McNab Cypress Botanical : Protect special values.
44) Valley Creek.Botanical: Protect special values.
45) Shimms Flat Recreation and Riparian: Manage for dispersed recreation. Protect riparian, fisheries and wildlife resources. Retain old growth. Retain existing motorized access but no new roads are allowed.
46) Pacific Crest Trail: Establish 500 foot corridor to protect trail from development activities. Manage immediate foreground for retention. Establish signed trailheads to provide for public access.
IV. TIMBER MANAGEMENT
Timber management is the driving force behind National Forest planning. In order to provide a true balance of multiple uses as required by federal law and policy, land management plans must treat timber management equally, with other non-timber uses and resources.
It is apparent that National Forests in Region 5 are proposing to utilize even aged management which is dependent upon such controversial activities as clearcutting and the spraying of herbicides. Along with the protection of roadless areas, clear cutting and herbicide use are the three most controversial issues identified by the public in the issues phase of the planning process.
Clear cutting has come under heavy criticism because the costs of associated environmental impacts on water quality, fisheries, wildlife, air quality, and recreation are not adequately considered in the economic analysis. Furthermore, costs associated with the harvest
method primarily road building, site preparation, multiple herbicide applications and others, are also inadequately considered.
The National Forest Management Act requires the Forest Service to justify on a site specific basis, the chosen silvicultural method as the optimum method. The DEIS for the Plumas plan-includes a paper entitled Silvicultural Systems And Their Application in the appendix. This paper evidently is intended to prove even aqed management and it's attendant methods, clear cutting and herbicide use, as the optimum method. A conservationist critique of Silvicultural Systems has been developed and is attached as Appendix A.
As an aternative to even aged management, the Conservationist Alternative proposes all aged management based upon group tree selection for harvest. The system provides the necessary volume of timber to support the local economy while protecting other values. Group selection allows patch cuts from 1/100ths acre to 2 acres in size as opposed to the maximum of 40 acre clear cuts found under even aged management. Most cuts will be generally less than an acre. Group selection allows for harvest methods specifically designed for timber type, soil, aspect and protection of other values, as required by federal law. Unfortunately, FORPLAN, the complicated computer program usedto generate plan outputs and values, maybe incapable of modeling any type of silvicultural system -other than even aged management.
The timber industry has generally estimated that selective harvesting may reduce timber volumes by up to 20%. This is disputed by current Forest Service data which indicates that the long term yield from either even aged or all aged management is equivalent.
All aged management makes more, economical sense than even aged management by producing more income for the treasury with less mitigation costs necessary to preserve the environment and retain long term sustained yield. Timber receipts may increase under all aged timber management while the overall budget for managing the forest may decrease, primarily because the government will no longer be cross subsidizing harvest of valuable timber with uneconomical timber.
Cross subsidization actually reduces the timber revenue to the federal and local governments. Even aged management is based upon clearcutting. Clearcutting reduces timber receipts by averaging high bids for valuable timber with low bids on marginal timber. Therefore, federal receipts to local counties under even aged management are based on a low common denominator. Because all aged management encourages the harvest of valuable high site timber, receipts to local governments are maximized while environmental degradation and conflicts with recreation and tourism are minimized.
There are many other factors that affect timber management economics. This issue is described in detail in The Citizens Guide to Timber Management in the National Forests, published by the Cascade
Holistic Economic Consultants. The chapter dealing with timber economics in the guide is attached as Appendix B.
The Plumas Forest analyzed most site specific management proposals from the Conservationist Alternative with even aged timber management on other areas of the forest. Planners found that they could increase the annual cut while protecting roadless areas and other important resources. Unfortunately, a forestry economics consultant from the Cascade Holistic Economic Consultants hired by conservationists discovered that the Plumas Forest is basing its analysis on yield tables and inventory data that artificially increases timber production in FORPLAN. This is true for all alternatives, including the proposed plan and the Conservationist Alternative. In other words, much of the future timber production outlined in the plan may never be realized. The Plumas may be a computer printout forest that cannot meet even the current level of harvest much less a greatly increased cut. The independent analysis by the Cascade Holistic Economic Consultants is attached as Appendix
Local logging companies are often unable to compete with the large out of the county timber corporations for Plumas Forest timber sales. The Conservationist Alternative gives preference to small, local logging companies on certain acres of the Plumas National Forest in order to insure a healthy, sustainable local logging economy. Use of all aged management instead of even aged management will also insure smaller sales that are more manageable for smaller logging companies. The Conservationist Alternative prohibits major road improvements such as the work planned for the Oroville-Ouincy Highway which are primarily intended to increase export of timber to large timber mills outside of Plumas County.
The Conservationist Alternative calls for the re-analysis of timber harvest and production on the forest, including a realistic alternative using group selection as the primary silvicultural method.
V. GRAZING AND RANGE MANAGEMENT
All Forest plans in Region 5, including the Plumas, greatly increase grazing above current levels. This is because grazing is easily valued and the Forest Service assumes that there are little or no costs associated with this use. Grazing increases are also based on a false assumption that clearcutting of timber results in more forage. Conservationists contend that the current grazing permit charge is not only too far below market value, but costs associated with environmental degradation are not considered.
Several areas on the Plumas Forest, particularly in the Indian Creek watershed, are currently degraded due to overgrazing. The costs of this degradation include impacts on water quality, fisheries, recreation, public health and wildlife.
The Conservationist Alternative calls for an overall reduction in grazing levels through permanent restriction against grazing environmentally sensitive areas including wetlands and riparian zones. The Alternative calls for an increase in the grazing permit charge to fair market value. The Alternative also calls for grazing permittees to cover the expenses required for range improvements, including improvements deemed necessary to preserve environmental resources. Fair balancing of all the values associated with grazing should maintain or increase revenues to the public treasury, thereby supporting the local economy while protecting the pubic interest.
VI. STREAMSIDE MANAGEMENT ZONES
NFMA mandates protection for streams, streambanks, shorelines, wetlands and other bodies of water, from detrimental changes where harvests are likely to seriously and adversely affect water conditions or fish habitat. Forest Service regulaltions require that Special attention shall be given to land and vegetation for approximately 100 feet .from the edges of all perennial streams, lakes and other bodies of water. Forest Service regulations are interpreted through so-called best management practices. Use of BMPs over the last decade has not prevented the degradation of over 30% of the water produced by the Plumas National Forest.
Although the Forest Service will give special attention to the 100 foot stream-side management zones, this does not mean that activities that cause erosion and siltation such as logging will be prohibited in these areas. In fact, there are numerous examples of streamside areas that have been logged on the Plumas Forest. If draft plans released before the Plumas are any example, it is probable that logging to meet timber yields will continue to be allowed along streams, rivers and lakes.
The 100 foot streamside management zones generally established by the Forest Service are arbitrary and not based on any site specific research. The Lassen National Forest conducted an inventory of streams and determined that the average streamside, riparian and water influenced terrestrial vegetation zones on the forest averaged up to 120 feet in width. For seasonal streams (Class 1 & 2), 235 feet. For small to medium size creeks (Cl ass 3) and up to 450 Feet for creeks and rivers (Class 4 & 5). Figures are rounded upward to the nearest denominator and slight differences between eastside -and westside streamzones are ignored in order to insure full and adequate protection.
The original Conservationist Alternative originally called for an admittedly arbitrary 500 foot streamside management zone for all streams. This was dropped by the Plumas Forest planners because it could not be modeled by FORPLAN. Since it is the only management system available that is based upon field data, the revised Alternative adopts the hydrologic model developed by the Lassen Forest (with noted changes). More importantly, the Alternative prohibits all
logging, mining and other soil disrupting activities within these zones. They are to be managed for retention of vegetation as well as fish and wildlife habitat. The Lassen Forest hydrologic table is attached as Appendix-D.
VII. POTENTIAL WILD SCENIC RIVER CANDIDATES
No river on the Plumas National Forest was incorporated into the Nationwide Rivers Inventory, although several candidates exist, most notably the Fall River and Canyon Creeks in the southwest region of the forest. The Alernative calls for the further study, of these rivers to evaluate their potential for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Conservationist Alternative provides for the retention of the free flowing and unroaded nature of these rivers. until adequate studies are completed.
Mining is highy disruptive of the environmental and often conflicting with other forest uses. The Conservationist Alternative insures that only valid claims are developed and that no mining operation will be allowed in environmentally sensitive areas. Most special management areas prohibit mining unless otherwise noted.
Operating plans are required for all claims. Only valid claims, using the prudent man test, will be approved an operating plan. Operating plans will require the posting of bonds sufficient to guarantee the full and complete reclamation of a mined area to its previous environmental standard. The operating plan will provide for public notification and comments. A full EIS will be required for large scale operations and/or proposals that generate public controversy.
IX. VISUAL QUALITY PROTECTION
Visual quality is an important element of tourism and recreation. Nobody thinks a clearcut is beautiful and who wants to picnic in one?
Adoption of an all aged system of timber management will greatly reduce the visual impacts of logging from almost all vantage points. Streamside protection zones and special management areas provide further protection. To preserve the visual quality in areas not in the previous categories, the following areas will be managed for foreground retention:
Quincy-La Porte Road
Little Grass Valley Resevoir
Sly Creek Resevoir
Bullards Bar Resevoir
Butt Valley Resevoir
The following areas will be managed for foreoround and middle ground retention:
North Fork Feather River canyon
Indian Creek canyon
Spanish Creek canyon
The primary intent of the Conservationist Alternative is to insure the preservation of the forest trail system from destructive activities such as roadbuilding and logging. Many trails are within special management areas that prohibit destructive activities. Trails that are not within special management areas will be protected by a 100 foot wide corridor which prohibits logging and keeps road crossings to a minimum.
Major trails should be maintained to the level necessary for public and environmental safety. Public adoption of trails for maintenance purposes will be encouraged. A trail use Fee system should be studied as a potential funding source for trail maintenance and construction. Registers will be established at major trailheads to gather user data and public comments.
Establishment of special management areas generally prohibits motorized use of the trail system unless otherwise noted. Trails not within special management areas will retain their current use, whether motorized or non-motorized. The forest can investigate the possibiliy of establishing official ORV trails with State green sticker Funds, but only with full environmental review and public participation in the planning process. ORV trails are prohibited in special management areas and in areas where environmental damage can occur such as wet meadows and steep slopes.
XI. Developed Recreation
Since developed recreation provides much greater returns per invested dollar than other forest uses, the Conservationist Alternative encourages the retention and protection, of all existing developed campsites on the forest. Camping fees should be raised if necessary, to insure that campground maintenance and repair is adequately funded. Interpretive programs funded through user fees, should be instituted at major campgrounds.
The forest will retain a mixture of highly developed, semi-developed and primitive camps. Large non-regulated primitive camps without sanitary facilities should be discouraged to protect public safety and the environment. The forest shall study the possibility of establishing developed campgrounds in the roaded sections of the proposed Lakes Basin-Nelson Creek-Yuba Scenic Area. Any study should include a complete environmental review and full public participation.
Any proposals for the development of a downhill ski site will be studied through a formal EIS, providing full environmental review and public participation. Downhill ski sites are prohibited in special management areas.
XII. MONITORING AND BUDGET
The success of any plan is dependent upon adequate monitoring. The Conservationist Alternative calls for constant monitoring of major environmental indicators including water quality, air quality, tree planting success and other variables to compare the intent of the plan with the affects of actual plan implementation.
Any plan is invarbly tied to the budget. If budget reductions are required, there must be a comparable reduction in activities that requ i re large expenditures. Changes in the budget must result in revisions.to the plan. The Conservationist Alternative calls for a revision process tied to budget constraints when necessary.
Appendix A: A Conservationist Response to Major Silvicultural.Systems and Their Application By Michael Yost, MA, Fores try, Duke University, February 1986.
Appendix B: Economics of Timber Management: What Land is Economically Suited for Timber, Do Forest Service Timber Sales Lose Money?, How to Tell if a Timber Sal e Loses Money From The Citizens Guide to Timber Management in the National Forests. Published by Cascade Hollstic Economic Consultants, October 1985.
Appendix C: Reviewof the Plumas National Forest Plan, Cascade Holistic Economic Consultants, January 1985.
Appendix D: Lassen National Forest Streamside Management Corridor Factor Table. By Steve Young, Lassen Forest Hydrologist. 1984.