P.O. Box 1749, Quincy CA 95971


May 31, 2001

Dr. Peter Stine
Sierra Nevada Framework
801 I Street, Suite 419
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Peter,

Thank you for organizing and convening the April 20 meeting between Forest Service scientists and Quincy Library Group members. We think the discussion made clear that the 1992 “CASPO Report” continues to be the best science available regarding the California spotted owl. More recent research has filled in some details on nest site characteristics and the effects of spring storms on nesting success, but does not change most of the basic conclusions and concepts embodied in the Interim Guidelines that resulted from that report.

The April meeting made clear, however, that fundamental questions remain concerning California spotted owl home range habitats and prey ecologies, as well wildfires' effects and risks to spotted owl habitat. On the latter issue, moreover, the owl scientists do seem to have changed their minds since they wrote the CASPO Report, but they mentioned only a few isolated and anecdotal observations as their reason. They also appeared to be unacquainted with either the Framework's or the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act Pilot Project's fire and fuels management strategies. Since “fire versus owls” has been the Forest Service's real management dilemma in the Sierra Nevada for at least the last ten years, we very much appreciated your assembling researchers and specialists from both fields to converse with us. It was very helpful to learn more about what facts and factors the scientists are weighing in their evaluations. We realize that there was no resolution at the meeting, but we hope the discussion helped advance the Forest Service's larger scientific and management problem-solving efforts.

We also wish to thank you for sharing the draft administrative study plan. As it notes, the administrative study is being developed under the Record of Decision for the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment EIS. It is not part of the HFQLG Pilot Project but is instead specific to implementation of the Framework. Our main concern at this time is to be sure that neither the planning nor the implementation of the administrative study diverts money or other resources that have been dedicated to full implementation of the Pilot Project.

Unfortunately, in its current form and context, and as part of the Framework decision, we believe the administrative study as outlined so far would not only interfere with full implementation of the Pilot Project, but would actually violate the HFQLG Act. For example, it would apparently change landbase allocations and conduct management experiments in spotted owl Protected Activity Centers and old-growth forests, which would not be consistent with the Act or Congressional intent as reflected in its legislative history.

Congress established the HFQLG Pilot Project as its own “adaptive management administrative study,” in that it requires implementation of specific management actions, monitoring of results, and a science-based evaluation of results. We believe the Act requires full implementation of the Pilot Project without mixing in another large-scale study that involves other management actions on the same landbase.

We agree that other ecological studies would be useful, but they should be conducted so as to avoid any interference whatsoever with the Pilot Project. It is proving hard enough already to keep the Pilot Project on target and on schedule. We believe the Pilot Project can, in its own way, provide very useful information on some of the same questions your study plan is aiming to address. Therefore, all of our effort at this time must be to secure full implementation of the Pilot Project, including its monitoring, reporting, and evaluation.

We hope that you will still be coming to make a presentation at the next Quincy Library Group meeting on June 28, 2001. The Framework's Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment decision and its administrative study component significantly affect the HFQLG Pilot Project, and are of great interest to members of our group and communities.


Linda L. Blum Edward C. Murphy

Corresponding Secretaries


cc: Senator Dianne Feinstein
Congressman Wally Herger
Regional Forester Brad Powell
Forest Supervisors Cole, Eubanks, and Madrid
HFQLG Implementation Team Leader Dave Peters