TO: Michael Jackson, Linda Blum, Michael Yost
FROM: David Edelson
RE: Quincy Library Group Bill
DATE: January 24, 1997
Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me and other members of the conservation community last week to discuss proposed legislation relating to the Quincy Library Group. I believe we made significant progress in clarifying the bill's purposes and provisions and narrowing the differences between the various groups. I am writing to memorialize the progress we made and the agreements we reached in order to set the stage for further discussions and, I hope, continued progress.
I would appreciate it if you would review the memo and let me know if and where you may disagree with how I have characterized the issues. We can then focus on the area of continuing disagreement and see whether further progress is possible. Please note that I have not attempted to incorporate all of the points raised in written comments by the various groups, and our meeting last week ended before we completed the agenda. therefore, there may be some additional points not raised at the meeting that need to be discussed and resolved.
Michael Jackson began by stating that the bill introduced last term (H. R. 4082) will not be introduced this term in its current form, but rather will be redrafted to clarify and revise several important points. According to Jackson, the following components should be in the revised bill:
1. All existing laws will be followed, including NEPA. In addition, the DFPZ's, group selection logging, and other management specified in the bill will comply with CASPO's prescriptions in all respects (without regard to the "adaptive management" loophole adopted by the Forest Service). The only exception may be to ease CASPO's snag requirements in DFPZs, but this has not be clearly defined.
Note: my understanding, based upon Jackson's comments, is that the pilot project will comply with CASPO's prescriptions, even if the Forest Service decides through it planning process to modify or reject the CASPO policy. This is a critical point, so please correct me if my understanding is wrong.
2. All roadless lands and SAT riparian areas should be off limits to logging and roading for the duration of the bill.
Specific Issues (as identified on the agenda)
1. There will be no findings in the revised bill.
2. Suitable timber base. The bill will not add any "non-CAS" lands (i.e., lands determined in the forest plans to be unsuitable for logging) into the timber base. It will however, ease some restrictions on logging in the existing plans, such as the plan's visual constraint objectives.
Note: to the extent that the pilot project will not comply with the provisions of existing plans regarding visual quality, it will not comply with all existing laws- contrary to General Point (1). it is important that you clarify this discrepancy, and that you specify any other provisions of existing law or plans with which the pilot project would not comply.
3. Protected lands. Michael Jackson reiterated that the intent of the bill is to preclude all logging from the reserved areas during the pilot project period. Several people noted that the reserved lands do not reflect new information from SNEP and the Sierra Biodiversity Project regarding existence of additional old-growth/late successional forests, and that these additional lands should be added reserved base. Ryan Henson named several such areas (Bald Mt. and Castle Peak roadless areas on the Sierraville RD). Michael Jackson indicated that there is not a lot of flexibility on this issue on the part of the QLG.
4. "Catastrophic areas" Many members of the group expressed concerns about this provision, and criticized it for creating an overly broad loophole that would allow entry into protected areas. Jackson agreed that this provision is "problematic" but stated that he "currently" lacks authority to change this provision in the bill.
5(a) Group selection. Michael Yost explained that the intention of this provision was to institute "unit area control" based on the "inverted J curve," with the aim of returning the forest to presettlement (1900) conditions. it would be based on a 200 year rotation for site classes 3-5 and 150 year rotation for site classes 1-2. We agreed to try to draft some language that would clarify this intention, since the current bill lacks any such specificity. Jackson reiterated that any such group selection logging would comply with CASPO and other environmental laws. However, it is unclear whether and to what extent the concept for group selection is consistent with the CASPO prescriptions.
5(b) DFPZs. Many of he group were very concerned that the concept of DFPZs is experimental and untested, and that the bill fails to provide any guidance related to the size, management, and design of DFPZs. Jackson said that the management of DFPZs would comply with CASPO (with the possible exception of snags), however, this will not insure that the DFPZs are actual "defensible," which would appear to require removal of smaller trees and brush. Yost indicated that there would be gaps in the design of the DFPZs, to allow wildlife movement, but he conceded that there is no such provision in the current bill. Additional concerns were raised that the bill lacks guidance regarding the process used to design the DFPZ network and fails to require ongoing maintenance of the DFPZs.
6(a) Magnitude of the DFPZ program. Many concerns were expressed about the magnitude of the DFPZ program - the number of miles of DFPZs/year, the number of years, and the overall size of the area (2 national forests plus one ranger district). The argument was that this is an untested concept that could have adverse environmental impacts, and that it should be significantly reduced. Jackson said that the three parameters - 5 years, 50,000 acres/yr, and 2 1/4 national forests - are essentially non-negotiable, because they are an essential part the agreement (tied, for example, to the size of the reserved land base).
6(b) Overall amount of logging. Serious concerns were expressed about the total amount of logging that would be sanctioned by the pilot project. Based on the rough estimates presented by Michael Yost, it appears that the project would vastly increase the amount of logging on the pilot forests. Even using the most conservative estimates (logging of only 4,000 board feet per acre in the DFPZs and the group selection units) would produce an annual cut level more than double the actual levels on these forests in recent years. Using more realistic estimates of board feet per acre would result in even higher cut levels.
7. Cost-effectiveness I expressed concerns that this provision could encourage logging of the largest trees, in order to procure revenues to fund the program - to the detriment of prescribed burning or other approaches. Jackson suggested that this provision could be dropped.
8. Relation to other Forest programs. Concerns were expressed that Section 2(f) could be interpreted to apply to logging, i.e., that nothing in the bill would allow the Secretary to limit other kinds of logging (not in compliance with the bill) within the pilot project area. Jackson explained that the intention was to apply to "multiple use activities" other than logging and road construction, such as livestock grazing and recreation.
9. Timing and NEPA compliance. Although we ran out of time to discuss this at the meeting, some members of the group area concerned that the pilot project will remain in effect for a minimum of 5 years, and possibly longer, regardless of the results of the planning and EIS process for the pilot forests. In other words, the pilot project will continue for 5 years even if the NEPA process mandated by the bill reveals that the project will have unforeseen and/or serious adverse environmental impacts. To this extent, the project would not comply with NEPA. In addition, the project could continue for more than 5 years if the plan amendment process for the project forests is not completed within that time frame.
03/09/97 09:54:19 PM