Appeal Appendix A.
Comments on the two documents:
The SNFPA Draft EIS contained numerous errors and omissions
that the responsible Forest Service officials and specialists knew would be
fatal to any Decision based on a Final EIS that did not correct those errors
Understandability -- important team concern.
Defensibility -- scientific,
logical, legal -- important team concern.
Meeting public expectations.
Others.” [Appendix A-1, pg 1]
WO Review Team listed Findings - Areas for Improvement.
Linkages to Science base --
Fire and Fuels.
Economic and social analysis.
[Appendix A-1, pgs 4-6]
options for correcting the problems were laid out, along with probable
consequences of taking that option:
Option A: Continue
-- will not be understandable or defensible.
Rethink and rewrite... Will be more understandable but very likely will
not be fully defensible.
Redesign and reanalyze... This is only the minimum that would be required
to have a high likelihood of surviving scientific and legal challenges.
is, the WO Review Team stated unequivocally that only Option C would result in a
viable Final EIS on which to base a Decision.
Other options are “indefensible.”
every B and C option was said to require “major” effort, and every option C
except one required a time that went beyond the “deadline.”
of not ensuring science quality (i.e. Challenges in court;
Appearance of a pre-ordained choice;
Lack of clear science-based direction;
Working relationships between science community and the NFS).
Influence of politically-driven
incremental deadlines -- “groupthink” leading to the premature rejection of
options and inadequate documentation of non-selection rationale.
Role of the Science Team.
Reputation of the SNF to “take
Involvement of the Forest
planning specialists -- feasibility and adaptive management planning.
Availability of SNF team people
to rework the analysis.
Tradeoffs involved in meeting
deadline vs. ensuring quality.
(i.e. Administration opinions (existing and incoming);
Public expectations and opinion;
Organizational implementation -- NFS and Research;
Additional analyses -- “do-overs” and costs;
and Interagency relations.
Sequential dependencies in the
tasks of revision.
-- vision feeds dfc feeds SG feed modeling feeds effects.
How long does it take to do this job ???
[Appeal Appendix A-1, pgs 10-11]
The SNFP ID Team agreed with the WO Team assessment of the DEIS.
“The national review team has concluded that significant improvements
would need to be made before a credible, defensible decision for the Sierra
Nevada could be made. We concur.”
[Appeal Appendix A-2, pg 2]
QLG Comments on Appeal Appendix A-1.
QLG Comments on Appeal Appendix A-2.
“recommendations” made by the SNCF ID Team in response to the WO Review are
wholly inadequate to address the issues raised by the WO Team or to remedy the
flaws identified by the WO Team. Subsequently
there was further slippage, because the ID Team's descriptions of their intended
actions do not match what they actually produced in the FEIS and ROD.
In the following discussion of individual issues, we assume that
meaningful implementation of Option C will almost always require implementation
of Option B as well, since the WO descriptions of C imply the necessity of
including the preliminary or coordinate actions described in B.
Alternative Structure [A-2,
pg 3], the ID Team claims to be implementing Option A with components of B.
For Option B, the WO Team said “Develop best estimates of historical
conditions at the landscape and stand level.
Use these as referenced conditions against which to judge
alternatives.” The ID Team converted this to “Historical conditions
vision,” and, whatever “historical conditions vision” might mean, the FEIS
fails to provide meaningful descriptions of historical conditions at the
landscape and stand level, and makes few if any direct comparisons for each
ID Team then makes an incomprehensible statement:
“If necessary, based on public comment, develop another alternative and
do a supplemental EIS. (11/00)” How
did they expect to do a supplemental EIS by November 2000?
They did develop another alternative, Mod-8, and in it they made enough
changes -- without public notice or opportunity for comment -- that a
supplemental EIS was legally required, but they didn't do it.
Linkage to SNEP [A-2, pg 3],
the ID Team claims to be implementing Option C, i.e. B plus a science
consistency check. The WO version
of B is “Document references to SNEP findings in a separate chapter. Describe rationale for adoption/non-adoption of SNEP
recommendations.” The FEIS fails
to provide a separate chapter on SNEP references, and provides no significant
rationale for accepting or rejecting SNEP recommendations.
The WO version of C requires the science consistency check on aquatics,
economics, species, fire, old forest, and other sections of the EIS.
According to comments of the scientists involved, the so-called science
consistency check of November 2000 was not conducted on a reasonably complete
draft of the Final EIS (much less the draft ROD), in any case too little time
was allowed for completion of a valid science check, and the questions the
scientists were asked to evaluate were not sufficiently specific on subject
matter to cover the issues itemized by the WO Team.
Fire and Fuels [A-2, pg 3],
the ID Team claims to be implementing a modified Option C.
The WO Team said B included “Describe fuels management alternatives not
considered in detail and document rationale for non-selection...” and C was to
“Construct a range of fire loss reduction strategies...”
The ID Team says “We are featuring all types of fuels treatments and we
are considering a range of fire loss scenarios and a range of strategies to deal
with them. Fuel management
strategies are being described with their associated uncertainties and risk.
Effects analysis will clearly display those uncertainties.” Perhaps they “considered” a range of fire loss scenarios
and a range of strategies to deal with them, but if so the detailed descriptions
required by the WO version of C did not make it into the Final EIS.
The FEIS also fails to document the rationale for dropping all strategies
other than SPLATs in any forested areas outside the urban intermix zone.
Adaptive Management [A-2, pg
4]. The ID Team claims to be
implementing a modified Option C, “Develop an adaptive management strategy,
appropriate for each alternative, that addresses key elements with their
associated risk and uncertainties. The
strategies identify triggers that initialize changes in management
activities...” The WO version of
B included “Set up testing of fire/fuels strategies in key watersheds in each
forest.” The FEIS fails to
require those fire/fuels tests, and it does not provide anything like a complete
set of “triggers that initialize
changes in management activities.”
Modeling [A-2, pg 4].
The ID team claims to be implementing Option B with an expanded
sensitivity analysis. The WO team
specified “Document existing assumptions and rationale and do a limited
sensitivity analysis at selected finer scale.
Overview of linkages, reorganize in central place, highlight assumptions,
devalue models in effects analysis, some sensitivity analysis.”
The Id Team says they will “...do a thorough job documenting
assumptions, parameters and model limits.”
In fact the FEIS is practically devoid of such documentation.
Assumptions, to the extent they are reported at all, are buried, not
highlighted. For most tabulations
and graphs in the FEIS that are based on modeling output, it is not possible to
tell with any assurance what the headings and labels actually mean, and there
are obvious but unexplained inconsistencies from table to table and graph to
graph. Such an important but
seemingly simple fact as whether the projected fuel treatment acres for a decade
of a particular prescription are “initial” or “retreatment” cannot be
determined from any combination of the FEIS tables and graphs.
Aquatic Conservation Strategy
[A-2, pg 5]. The ID Team comes as
close as it ever does to laying out a program in compliance with their stated
option, B. But the FEIS introduced
a whole new land allocation, Critical Aquatic Reserves, without notice or
opportunity for public comment. These
CARs were not designated by a process that provided consistency across the
Sierra Nevada national forests, but instead the FEIS turned over mapping of the
CARs to individual Forest biologists without sufficient oversight.
The result is a huge variation from CAR to CAR and from forest to forest,
in terms of their compliance with criteria stated in the FEIS.
Species Effects [A-2, pg 5].
The ID Team claims to be implementing Option B with modification of the scope of
the species. Somehow this “scope
of the species” is further described as relating to “controversial
species.” This is a term we
haven't heard before in any science-based discussion, and we doubt it has any
legitimate standing. However, it
does accurately characterize the overt politicization of the “consultations”
between the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the
very few “controversial” species that have completely dominated the whole
SNCF effort, the Final EIS and the Decision.
The ID Team has not “documented the rationale for selection of certain
species for greater level of analysis than others,” they have simply asserted
it without much of a rationale or any significant documentation.
Economic and Social Impacts
[A-2, pg 6]. The ID Team says it is
doing Option A with some of C. In
fact, so little of C is actually represented in the FEIS that even the modest
changes that they claim were not actually produced.
There is no real analysis of the economic and social impacts of
catastrophic fire, aside from some of the direct costs and losses to the Forest
Apparent Reason for Non-Compliance with the Washington Office
sticking point was obviously the “deadline” of December 2000 for publication
of the FEIS and ROD. What was the
basis for that entirely self-imposed deadline?
To the best of our knowledge, no rationale has been clearly stated, so it
is necessary to infer the motive from context.
Appendix A-1 [pg 11] mentions “Tradeoffs involved in meeting deadline
vs. ensuring quality” that include “Administration opinions (existing and
incoming)” and “Public expectations and opinion.” Appendix A-2 [pg 8] mentions
the “...costs of disappointment and dismay that certain stakeholders will feel
if we choose to delay the decision.”
“reasons” ring true as hints of what really happened, but they hardly amount
to a persuasive rationale for rushing the decision in defiance of professional
advice from the highest level of the Forest Service.
The Regional Forester opted for speed and near-certain expensive failure,
in order to placate “certain stakeholders,” when his professional and public
steward obligations demanded taking the time to assure a high-quality enduring
return on the huge cumulative investments made by the Forest Service and other
public and private agencies in the current EIS, the previous spotted owl
efforts, and SNEP.
The Decision is revealed to be arbitrary and capricious.
A-1 and A-2 reveal that:
Draft EIS was fatally flawed.
The Final EIS did not correct the
clearly identified flaws.
Nevertheless, the Decision was rushed
through to meet an arbitrary self-imposed deadline.
sequence is a good working definition of “arbitrary and capricious”
Appeal Appendices A-1 and A-2 follow this. ]