P. O. Box 3877

September 24, 1997

Mike Leahy
Forest Campaign Coordinator
National Audubon Society
1901 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
-- 202/861-2242 fax 861-4290 --

Dear Mike,

Last night the Plumas Audubon Society Board of Directors met to discuss your extremely distressing decision to oppose the Quincy Library Bill. This now puts our chapter in the position of having to "fight" the national organization. It is clear that we do not have the monetary or organizational resources to do this.

I was asked by the Board Members to write you immediately and extend an invitation to you, John Flicker, Dan Beard, Dan Taylor or any other interested "higher-up" to visit us in Quincy; to meet with members of the Plumas Chapter as well as with members of the Quincy Library Group (sometimes one and the same); to take a field trip to areas on the ground; and, if the date coincides, to attend a real Quincy Library Group Meeting. Members of our chapter will arrange to be on hand to host you. The next Quincy Library Group Meeting will be held on Friday, October 24th.

I was also asked to relay to you our perceptions of this situation. Our chapter has fully supported the innovative and ground-breaking QLG proposal from its beginning. We feel your on-site visit is required so that you can see for yourself why our group is so enthusiastic about QLG work.

Before I address some of the background information and discussion of some of the QLG particulars, I would like to address what our chapter perceives as a very serious issue: How can a local chapter of Audubon remain viable when the National office abandons, sabotages or undermines local efforts to improve conservation on the local scene? It is unfortunate that you are making your national decision without direct contact with the locals. The QLG process has in no way excluded national environmental interests. This locally initiated plan in no way is substandard and abides by all laws. We have hope that the "Nationals" will come back and fully paricipate (sic) in the NEPA process when the bill passes. In the Audubon Society, especially, the Nationals cannot succeed without the work of local chapters and, conversely, our local efforts must be and should be informed by national interests. Local groups can be short-lived vernal pools unless nationals participate. The land needs protection by both local and national interests; eliminating one or the other will set the conservation efforts up for failure. If your goal is to sustain and preserve the local ecosystem, you need to take an active role. National folks could better understand the real meaning of "place" if they would come to the "places" in question (in this instance, the Plumas, Lassen and Sierra District of the Tahoe National Forests.)

In your anti-QLG letter Dan Beard states that local grassroots people may know something about animals in the woods but are "not equipped to view the bigger picture," and that, “Considering the big picture is the job of Congress and of watchdog groups like the National Audubon Society." These statements indicate to us that you are unfamiliar with the individuals, expertise and diverse talents which have developed QLG strategies. Also, this rhetoric is, to put it politely, patronizing towards our group and to all rural people. I would expect other Audubon chapters throughout the country to react negatively to these statements if they were, after several years of focussed (sic) work, to receive this comment from national leaders.

It is ironic that national environmental groups with no direct experience think they know what's best in the national interest and that activists who have been working on the ground for more than a decade, cannot discern the national interest. Our Board rejects this attitude. It seems to contradict statements made in your 1995 Annual Report (which really jazzed our group .. I ordered 100 extra copies to pass on to our members.) John Flicker's comments regarding Audubon's Strategic Plan included the comment that "Conservation can become one of the cultural values that guide individuals' actions in the larger society, just as their other fundamental values would guide them in acting for -- rather than against -- the common good. If conservation can become that kind of value, then laws and regulations that promote sustainability will be passed and will be upheld. The idea of fostering a culture of conservation is more than a capsule summary of what emerged in our strategic plan, and more than an elaboration of National Audubon's mission statement: It is also a plan of action for the Society and all its members and leaders." (We have taken this to heart and acted on it by supporting QLG efforts since 1993.) Later in the same report you stated in the EVERGLADES ACHIEVEMENT section, "Audubon has long argued that the Everglades cannot be securely restored unless the urban and agricultural interests of South Florida receive enough water to prosper as well." This clearly represents a positive attitude by NAS towards working collaboratively with all groups affected by a particular environment. The structure of Audubon recognizes specificity of place and has encouraged local groups to develop place-based solutions and education. In this is Audubon's greatest strength.

Contrary to what is being printed and espoused by the national environmental groups concerning a perceived lack of adequate public input and involvement, the QLG Bill is based solidly on the Conservationist Alternative to the Plumas Plan which was developed in 1986 by Friends of Plumas Wilderness -- a grass roots organization with hundreds of members. That plan was supported by the Sierra Club, Altacal Audubon Society and a host of other environmental groups. When the Conservationist (sic) Alternative was not accepted as the Plumas National Forest Land Management Plan, the chosen Forest Plan was appealed by Friends of Plumas Wilderness, NRDC, the Wilderness Society, Friends of the River and others. (Plumas Audubon was formed during these years because we wanted to share a common love for the natural environment with all segments of the community -- without having to fight lawyers and such. Our field trips and presentations were designed as a forum where people could come together and study and understand local habitats and develop a common placed-based love and respect as a way of developing a stewardship ethic for the community.) When the appeal failed, members of Friends of Plumas Wilderness joined with community leaders, timber industry folks and other interested persons and environmentalists to form the Quincy Library Group. The original Conservationist Alternative was used as the blueprint for the QLG position. All of the above mentioned national environmental groups now opposed to the QLG unanimously supported the Conservationist Alternative. Is this because we are accomplishing what other groups have failed to do, or is it because we're doing this in a collaborative process? To us, collaboration means "working together," not "cooperating treacherously." We sit in amazement here in Quincy and read the lies that are being published in newspapers around the country about the QLG bill.

Other parts of that letter indicate a misunderstanding on your part about :"fuel breaks," (in fact they are called Defensible Fuel Profile Zones as recommended by the SNEP study); public access and participation (access to QLG meetings has been open to the public); and impacts on the forest (we firmly believe they will be positive). Somehow the national groups have mischaracterized QLG legislation. We are not advocating local control and our goal is not to facilitate heavy logging. The environmental movement is missing a golden opportunity to actually get the Forest Service to do the right thing.

If that's not your goal, what is your goal? The other detractors to the QLG plan have yet to come up with another solution. Ancient forests are falling, but it's not happening here. 60 Roadless Areas are being entered around the country, but it's not happening here. Environmentalists are proud of our accomplishments here. No, we are not perfect; but we do represent a group of diverse personalities working toward a common goal: understanding, protection and improvement of the health of the habitat in which we live.

You mention that any chapter actions must pass certain screens before national support. Copies of QLG support letters have been sent to Dan Taylor in the past, more recent support letters were sent to you, and we have reported QLG support in our annual reports. We were unaware that you were "screening" QLG efforts. We have not been given aid or guidance on this QLG issue by regional or national Audubon folks. Also, your letter of 18 September indicates that you have already heard yea's and nea's from Audubon chapters throughout the country. It would have been nice to have seen these comments before you took your position.

It is clear to us that it would be beneficial for the National Audubon Society, Plumas Audubon, and the outcome of the QLG legislation if we were able to sit down over a bottle of wine (or several bottles of wine) and fully explore your statement in your letter to Linda Blum where you say that "the 'green' faction of the QLG is viewed as generally well-intentioned, but misguided, or caught up in a powerfull current much bigger and stronger than you realize, that being the growing trend toward community consensus management...." Our Board would welcome such a meeting; in fact ,we feel it is necessary to continue what we have felt has always been a very valuable involvement with the National Audubon Society. Our chapter has been in a unique position to witness the process at close hand; we would like to share this with you and need your full participation and support to continue to do the right thing for the land.

Please contact us and let us know when you can come and visit. The quickest way is to use Linda Blum's E-mail. Or call Sally Yost at home: 916-xxx-xxxx. We look forward to hearing from you.


Sally Yost, President Sherry Yarnell, Conservation Chait (sic)
  Judy Buck, Vice President
  Virginia Massey, Treasurer
  Linda Blum, Membership

cc: John Flicker, Dan Taylor, Dan Beard

Response by Forest Campaign Coordinator Leahy