Core Staff Meeting,
Post Office Federal Building, 801 I Street, Sacramento
October 14, 1998
Notes by Wendy Yun, USFS
Core Staff Team Attending: Mike Chapel (USFS), Vern Finney (NRCS), David French (RCRC),
Frank Jerauld (Amador RCD), Leonidas Payne (EPA), Linda Reynolds (USFS), Rick Alexander (USFS), Jim Gaither (CA Resources Agency), Connie Millar (PSW-USFS), Larry Helm (CA DPR), Mike Oliver (UCD), Russ Henly (CDF), Wendy Yun (USFS).
Others Present: Laurel Ames (SNA), David Amme, Karen Barnette (USFS), Patrick Blacklock (Calif. Cattlemen's Assn.), Linda Blum (QLG), Louis Blumberg (The Wilderness Society), Sue Britting (SNFPC), Brad Burmark (USFS), Steve Clauson (USFS), Kent Connaughton (USFS), Teri Drivas (USFS) Greg Greenwood (CDF/FRAP), Robert Haggard (Modoc NF), John Hofmann (CFA), Charles Little (Tuolumne River Pres. Trust), Ronda Lucas (California Farm Bureau), Virginia Mahecek (Entrix, Inc.), Garland Mason (PSW-USFS), Patricia Manley (USFS), John Martini (Rep. Doolittle's office), Frank Mosbacher (USFS), Ed Murphy (Sierra Pacific Industries), John Phipps (USFS), James Roberts (Env. Professionals), Hal Salwasser (PSW-USFS), Ann Westling (USFS).
Mike Chapel opened the meeting with a brief overview of the agenda. The USFS would like to present the work that has been done over the past couple weeks and then open discussion of these topics to the floor.
Hal Salwasser - PSW-USFS Station Director
Hal thanked the group for their continuing interest, support, time, and dedication.
He then outlined important operating norms and principles the Forest Service will commit to in the Sierra Nevada Framework process:
1. Committed to incorporate effective public involvement. Committed to the participation of individuals and organizations
2. Committed to the integration of science
3. Openness of the process - sharing drafts
4. Adaptive planning & management - adapt as science and public participation dictates to come up with responsive management
Kent Connaughton - project leader for the SN Planning Efforts.
Kent explained that the public meetings resulted in the need to make a number of pledges and promises to change the behavior of the USFS. A 1-yr EIS would be insufficient for addressing all these concerns. The resulting term paper (handed out at the meeting) was drafted to address public concerns. The change in agency behavior would be commensurate with:
* The existing legislation
* Scientific and technical understanding of possibilities in the Sierra
* Choices and concerns of various public in the state
This is a draft of the term paper. You have influence over it as much as the primary authors. It can be refined, and the behavioral pledges are binding. This term paper addresses behavior, but the Framework deals with issues of much wider implications across the Sierra as characterized by SNEP. It could be possible that comparable term papers would result from other groups, such as private land owners and other interest groups.
Later in this discussion, Rick Alexander will present the thoughts synthesized from the public meetings.
The EIS is beginning to emerge; the first step is the Notice of Intent (NOI). Later the ID Team leader, Steve Clausen, will discuss progress thus far.
Kent has given direction to the ID team:
1. There is an obligation to consider the best/current science in light of characterizing problems the Sierra faces and motivating the possible solutions for these problems
2. As we head towards the proposed action, state how this has been driven by public comments in the pre-notice of intent period. How were the public comments taken into account in the proposal of the federal actions of the Forest Service? In other word, how were Pre- NOI comments received and how did they affect the NOI?
3. Integrate across the disciplines
4. Be aware and respectful of local projects. Prescribe to those successful efforts instead of trumping them. Do not cookie cutter an idea and expect it to be better and override an already successful local effort.
In summary, today's meeting will address pledges, feedback from public meetings, and information on the NOI.
Rick Alexander - Collaboration Team for SN Framework
Rick gave an overview of the public meetings and other conversations held over the past 6 weeks. There were nearly 40 different sessions held throughout the Sierra and in urban communities. They occurred on 11 National Forests, including the Humboldt-Toiyabe and the Modoc. There were also meetings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Carson City. They consisted of information sessions and workshop sessions. At the workshop sessions, people discussed and identified possible changes in the management of the National Forest lands.
The objective for sessions dovetailed with principles that Hal mentioned. People in the community engaged in identifying new science or information that may have been overlooked to date to help inform the development of a proposed action. Discussions focused on suggestions to improve management practices on the national forests.
A consultant helped design the public meetings. Although we provided a guidebook and the meetings were of basically the same format, local situations made each meeting a little different. To provide for consistency, community workshops started by asking two questions: "Is there scientific information that would add to or cause the Forest Service to modify the findings in the Sierra Nevada Science Review?" and, "In light of the Science Review and other information, what changes would you suggest for management direction of Sierra Nevada national forests?"
What is different about these sessions? They are pre-NEPA -- we are soliciting public input in an open process before a proposed action is presented with the intent to help inform the proposed action before it is drafted.
What we heard: Suggestions ranged from being very specific to very broad-ranging. Some were prescriptive, while others were more process oriented.
The underlying common ground is an interest and concern about the Sierra Nevada range. There is a strong interest, willingness, and desire of people to get involved. There has been favorable response to the Region 5's intention of having an open process. People have taken this change of behavior seriously and are giving fair warning that to be successful, the process must be kept open and accessible to everyone interested in the Sierra.
Better monitoring and feedback is needed regardless of the specific plan; we need to know what works and what does not, and we need to learn about what we are doing. Social science is mention in Science Review, but it needs to be developed better; these are skills and information that we need to bring to bear light on in these issues; it's not all biological science.
The comments from the recent meetings are being collated and synthesized. When the work has been completed, it will be posted on the Web and made available by hard copy mail, too. (A summary of the October 3 workshop in Davis is already posted on the Web.)
People are encouraged to use the web page. Other methods of keeping folks informed will be employed as the office gets set up, but currently the web page is the best way to get information.
Connie Millar - USFS-PSW scientist
Connie is leading the term paper effort. It is a new idea for Forest Service. It is a distinct document from the NOI. They are companion documents, but they are different. The term paper addresses behavioral changes. If there are no behavior changes, then we have failed in our efforts. We are trying to be more open early in the process. We are presenting rough drafts and asking for creative input while we can still adjust and incorporate into them the process.
This will set the stage for the EIS. We are trying to learn rules for engagement to help you all participate with us.
Quick overview of the term paper:
1. It is a disclosure of the way the Forest Service is viewing the current context in the Sierra Nevada. This is an attempt to reveal how we view the issues. The contact has changed over the years. Our thinking may be out of date, so we need to make a course correction.
2. Commitment to change and action. These are currently broad items, but they can be refined to be more specific.
This is a living document; more commitments can be added and adjusted as conditions change.
It will be posted on the Web on Friday, Oct.16. Send comments to Connie Millar and John Phipps (addresses listed at end of the notes). We are aiming to finalize it by the 23rd of October.
-There is some confusion about the relationship between NOI and the term paper.
Response: Legal, social, institutional changes, and science changes dictate needs for change. The EIS addresses some, but other needs are not adequately addressed in a 1-yr EIS. The term paper discusses items that are not able to be addressed/treated in a 1-yr EIS. It also sorts the challenges that need to be addressed in different time frames. In some cases, the EIS will begin to address some of the issues; it's the first step, but some issues need continuous efforts beyond the EIS. We want to make these pledges that will not be addressed in the 1-yr EIS into firm actions. Meanwhile, the NOI will address items in the EIS.
-On page 20, the term paper states that the EIS will present strategies that will maintain future options.
-There is a concern that things will be postponed and interim decisions will be made and then revisited once they are made.
Response: It's true the agency has used interim guidelines in the sense of putting something on hold until a comprehensive solution appears, but our changes in viewing the world is that there will not be a comprehensive solution, so we need to make a decision about what we choose to bite off. We will be able to adapt as new information becomes available. We must be adaptive.
-Work with existing, don't start new major efforts. Want to know how to best work with on-going efforts without derailing the EIS.
-The 1-yr EIS will amend the 10 Forest plans. Ultimately, the LMP's need to be revised. The EIS will lay the ground work for this. For a plan revision, there are specific rules to be followed; the amendment process is easier and less cumbersome.
John Phipps - ElDorado NF Forest Supervisor - worked on term paper
Starting at the bottom of page 15 of the term paper, John Phipps walked the group through some specifics:
1. Committed to conservation - we are all leaders
2. Quality relationships - new, better ways of doing business
3. Link and learn ideas - there are no boundaries
4. Information sharing
5. Adaptive management and collaboration
6. Best science incorporated
8. Funding - legislation
Basically, we want to get your ideas and add value to the existing pledges listed in the term paper.
Steve Clauson - EIS Team leader - SN Framework
Steve gave an update on the preparation of the NOI and the work of the EIS team.
The NOI has two sections: a) the purpose and need and b) the proposed action
The context of the purpose and need will incorporate overarching issues, existing management direction, the science, and the public comments which is a new piece. What is the common ground?
The issues to be addressed in the short term are:
Other issues identified by the public need to be tracked in the short term and as future options.
We need to have a clear understanding of what we are trying to solve and a clear statement of the problem. We need to consider what science has said and what the public has said.
-There was cautioning against blanket statements in what the public has said.
-There was concern about why certain comments are on the overhead transparencies presented. There is not common agreement on what the issues are.
-Would like the interest groups to look at the raw material (actual public comments) and share ideas on which public comments are important and opinions on what intrigued the interest groups.
-The issue of water supply was brought up.
-There is linkage between EBMUD and recreation and, also, between biomass and the fire/fuels issue.
-Need to find the appropriate level of dealing with public comments (responses).
Steve continued on with his presentation:
*We want a proposed action that is not merely general and also not so specific that it hinders the capability to adjust with science and provide decision space. We want to be as explicit as science will allow and not preclude options as new information from the science develops; and we want to provide room for decisions as the public continues to participate.
*Want an integrated strategy for terrestrial, aquatic, and fire issues. Integrated strategies must address social and economic issues.
*Individual single species issues will be nested and addressed in the integrated strategies. We feel we can do this and still be explicit about the original 7 issues identified in the science review.
*Sliding scale concept - there are 11.5 million acres. To resolve major issues in the EIS, we need to find an acceptable balance between providing prescriptions versus processes. There would not be one prescription for the entire acreage. One size fits all does not work and was one criticism of NW plan.
*Prescriptive direction - standards and guides, goals, process, specific prescriptions. What is the appropriate scale for precise prescriptions?
*Proposed action will contain a combination of goals, process, and prescription.
Mike Chapel explained to group that we are basically showing our homework. This work is in its very early formative stages. We would like you to help us think through this work that is very much in progress. The remainder of the meeting will be devoted to listening to your comments on the direction of where we are headed, specific recommendations you may have, etc.
Comments Specific to the Public Comments Generated in the Public Workshops
-Public comments should not be equivalent with science. Making assumptions about values is very tricky, but that is what collaboration is all about. Be careful about public comments. It is important that they be treated respectfully and any assumptions or summaries made need to be taken back to the public to be sure that the comment was accurately captured.
-If a feedback loop is not developed, then you may lose all the progress from the open process. Let the people know how their comments where categorized. Let the public look at those to help edit to ensure that the comments were sufficiently captured.
-The Forest Service is looking at having a list of themes resulting from the public involvement by Friday, Oct. 16. Currently it looks like 8 themes with 8 thematic statements.
-Letters are being sent to the Davis session participants to briefly summarize the meeting. Forest supervisors were asked to continue conversations at the Forest level to continue the dialogue and communication at the local level. That process is not mapped out...we need advice.
-Is there a request to have an external group review the summary of the comments so that we do not lose a view point?
-We don't want to review what you decided. We wanted to offer our opinions on some of the comments and concepts given our varied backgrounds. Then you could do what you want with them.
Mike Chapel asked if this group and others would like to come together in another meeting to take a critical look at what we've done and give feedback.
-Take all the info home and comment at leisure. A meeting is not required.
-The incorporation of the public comments is laying the foundation of the EIS. Next time we meet, we'll be in the EIS and it will be too late. The public comments are intended to be a big part of the NOI, and it's really important that you get an accurate portrayal of the public comments. Treat the public comments as you did the science review. Needs accurate scrutiny and review so you understand what the public really said.
-Given that, then we need to turn around a summary document ASAP and ask for feed back in 2-3 days.
-Are you asking for a Gallup poll? We did not try to use a statistical process; wanted it informal, people self-selected to comment on the various issues, so its not a random sample by any means.
-Maybe its categorical. Look at the document on Friday...we need to be sure the thought is captured, not necessarily the words. Try to avoid re-surveying the public.
-A quick review of the themes by various organizations would ensure that something major is not left out or filtered out. A review could be done quickly.
-The themes will be embedded in the term paper that will be posted on the Web on Friday.
-Need to get feedback into the public sector; make contact with folks that attended local meetings. Give them a chance to be sure their ideas were captured and invite them to remain involved. Need to encourage involvement because if the interest is lost, then it will be very difficult to get it back. Need a mechanism to do that.
-No time and interest to review the comments. What are the common threads and the common ground. Were there any surprises? Most of the groups' responses would be fairly predictable. Did any new information arise? Seems like the focus needs to be on the EIS. Don't create more work.
-This is not pre-NEPA stuff; there is internal and external scoping. We are in the stage of finding the scope or breadth of what to address. The Forest Service now has that information, and it is appropriate for the Forest Service to summarize those comments and describe that in the NOI. Then, take the comments submitted in the formal comment period and use that as an opportunity to address issues and adjust the scope depending upon the response/comments received. Local and regional participants should receive the NOI, too. Response to the public's comments and how it relates to the development of the proposed action will be a significant section in the NOI. The NOI will be the opportunity for organizations and the public to review and ensure comments were clearly understood. If the process remains open, then the proposed action will be open for refinement. Alternatives would also be able to be drafted.
-How do you incorporate nation-wide comments, such as from NJ, Florida, etc.
RESPONSE from Hal: In addressing the national interests; already represented by major federal laws, such as being in compliance with the endangered species act, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. Partly how national interest is reflected, and the local interests cannot operate outside of those laws.
-Regarding refinements of position statements of public comments, there is a need to establish a mechanism for interested parties to continue to participate. Continuous word-smithing will result in fudged data. It is disconnected from the process of decision, and that's what Laurel was saying about keeping public participation as part of the NOI.
Mike Chapel - There is some concern about distilling the public comments - themes. Some are not interested in reviewing the work, but some are. Would like to have the themes in the term paper published on the web by Friday. Try to get comments back to the Forest Service by Tuesday, Oct. 20. Kent interjected that we will take comments at any time, even after Tuesday.
- Just wanted to share with you that the collaborative team has a vision that we will have more community involvement.
Comments regarding FACA
-In the term paper, there is a FACA issue and public participation process. Would like to have FACA discussion in the NOI. It should be part of the public process. It is a protection for the Forest Service in this new project being undertaken. A letter from SNA addresses the importance of a FACA oversight committee and watershed groups as FACA, committees to advise the Forest Service. These should be designated early on.
- Picturing the FACA committee would be much like BDAC (Bay Delta Advisory Committee) that is working with CalFed and would consist of a number of interest groups and agencies and would function as a public body to add sunshine to the Forest Service process. It makes it a commitment. It would be range-wide.
- Would it be established in time to be included in the NOI? If so, the process would be more assured...that would be the benefit of it.
- A FACA committee seems like an appropriate way to proceed. It would be useful to engage in a policy and legal discussion regarding the pros and cons of a FACA committee. What are the legal and policy ramifications? The Resources Agency would be very supportive in the approach of structured, long-term relationships that allows for greater collaboration between agencies and greater accountability.
- Some feel the group is currently operating on the fringes of the law. A FACA committee would allow us to operate without that extra share of caution. Nothing different, but it provides a safety net to say that we are a legitimate group and do not need to hedge around the law.
- What about the CBC (California Biodiversity Council)? It does not seem to be resolving any species and ecosystem dilemmas that result from agency policy and the ecosystem.
-Should make existing arrangements workable. FACA committees consist of folks representing specific interests and paid staff, so you lose the community interests. Bureaucracies and organizations continue to sit. Individuals and communities do not get represented. Tend to disagree with the charter of a FACA committee.
-Use the CBC more as an oversight group.
- Speaking on behalf of Congressman Doolittle and other members of the resource committees who play a role in this, it is necessary to take a look at the type of arrangement and powers for the FACA committee. Determine the scope of what we are dealing with before we have a real in depth discussion about it. There are no specifics yet. It has just been referred to as an advisory committee with BDAC as the guiding light. Before we get too far into this, we need to take a firmer look at what is preferred before we move forward in addressing this in the NOI. Especially Congress, who is pulling the purse strings on this right now, needs to take a look at what is preferred before going too far down the road towards a FACA committee. Unsure if this is good or bad...need more information.
CLARIFICATION from Kent: The NOI will not discuss the FACA committee. This is an institutional adjustment; that can be done outside and would be done outside of the FACA committee.
- Are there any time constraints? It takes six months to a year to establish a committee; it is an arduous process. Significantly focused constituencies are needed to get it off the mark.
COMMENT from Kent: Do we need that decision-making institutionalized arrangement? If we do, then do not be discouraged by the bureaucratic process that we need to endure to establish it. Then we can get all the members on the charter arranged. If this is the correct way to proceed, then so be it. We do not need FACA to entreat advice or comment, just decisions. This is a discussion. Decisions are not being made based on this discussion.
-There are alternative models for doing this. Community Economic Revitalization teams are doing this without FACA teams.
- This can be done quicker; the CalOwl EIS charter was written quickly. What is the legal question? Determine what is going on at this meeting and decide whether you are on the edge of the law. If not, then there is no need to legalize. If there is, then you need to make it legal.
- Is there expectation that there will be a decision coming from this meeting. That would then be in violation of FACA. We do not have that discretion.
COMMENT from Kent: This group is not meeting to make a decision that a particular issue is waiting for.
- Mike Chapel invited me (to this meeting).
- Mike invited me, too.
QUESTION to the group: Is there a desire for some concrete commitment to resolving governance? Borrowing Linda's terms, people want to know that there is more than just a rhetorical commitment, and will that be disclosed in the NOI. Is that correct...what should the NOI say about this?
- FACA committee gives you opportunity to have very broad public process that you can not just listen to but also feed information to and get advice back. There many people who are not here and represented. FACA gives the Forest Service the cover to reach out to many people.
- The purpose of the FACA committee would be to seek out viewpoints from groups?
- We would need a 30 day notice in the charter to inform folks of meetings.
- At the Oct.3 workshop protesters set up tables outside, but they did not come in through the door. There were some far end of the spectrum that did not attend the workshop either. It seems like folks who want to participate are already participating, so we do not need to establish FACA to solicit viewpoints.
- Is it appropriate to ask for a very short paper that raises the legal issues, states the pros and cons of having a FACA committee and provides a couple alternative paths for doing that if we choose to and then get it back to the group so we can get a better understanding?
COMMENT from Mike: This group has been extremely useful in surfacing new ideas. Would this group like to get back together to look at the legal ramifications and see where we want to go from here as a group.
- What is the role, what is the scope, what are the powers, what are the assignments, what are we expecting the FACA committee to do? Decisions, advice? We need to answer those questions before travelling down this path.
- There are other options than FACA, i.e. the NFMA authorizes the establishment of advisory committees and forest planning. That provision may be able to apply here, which would obviate the need to have a formal charter. You would potentially address the legal concern. FACA committees can also work to close input. You have some that are in and some are out. Then the meetings of how and where it meets creates a whole new bureaucracy because you need money and staff to run the committee. The question is are you getting benefits that outweigh the costs.
- I would like to see the FACA questions addressed. I think that is a key informational thing. If we do not take that route, that is fine, but I think those questions were honestly raised and represented by some serious interest and lack of understanding of how it works.
Comments Regarding Legislative Aspects
-Laws are a judgement of the local and national interest of the people. The people are speaking through those laws, whether we agree with the law or not. Somebody needs to take a look at those laws (not a scientist or management) and see what kind of direction was given through each of those laws and examine the Forest Service direction and see if it lines up.
-We have started addressing that in the term paper, but it may need more refinement.
-Recognize that by examining those laws, we are opening a broad discussion about how those laws fit or don't fit. Are there reasons for looking at them in those lights? The real value of the term paper identifies what is not going to be addressed in the EIS.
- The Clean Water and Clean Air Acts need to be included. What actions should be taken to comply with Clean Water act? These are baseline requirements and not just background. If areas of Sierra are currently not in compliance with these laws, need propose actions to bring entire range into compliance.
-We do have to obey laws...that is a continuous constraint we must operate under.
Comments concerning the NOI and the EIS
-Thus far, it was not obvious that the NOI would disclose the other comments that you've received today. Pre-NOI scoping report built into the process would satisfy the concerns that Sue brought up.
- Within the NOI, will there be a clear discussion of issues brought up publicly and internally and how those issues will help develop the proposed action?
RESPONSE from Kent: There is rationale why the proposed action is what it is. It is not a substitute for the complete public record. If folks are disappointed by the proposed action, then they need to refer back to the complete document of the public record. We need to make sense of the public document and track it through just as Sue said. That is one of the requests made of the ID team.
- How should we consolidate public comments? Part of what happened is...during this early stage, we laid the foundation for community learning. Most people who participated in those discussions will at least be better prepared to discuss the next step, which is once this NOI is published and we have the starting point. We'll be framing alternatives and determining consequences. There will be more discussion coming out of this process. We solicited public comments to lay the foundation for future discussions, and provide better information to develop the NOI. It may not be as scientific as the right content analysis, but hopefully we'll capture the correct themes.
-The term paper - the notion of making some commitments is commendable and innovative. Not certain about the relationship between the term paper and the EIS and what's in and what's out. The Cal Owl EIS failed at addressing Spotted Owls and looking at ecosystems (did not take an ecosystem approach). The current EIS needs to have an ecosystem approach and should discard issues or delay in addressing important issues for one thing, it is impossible to look at riparian and aquatic without looking at the role of grazing.
- Thanks for taking the initiative to put together the term paper. Perhaps I should be more worried about the relationship to the NOI, but at first glance, it seems like a useful mechanism to pull into a pool, to share with the rest of us your thinking, reasoning, thought processes and greater accountability. For that alone, it is worthwhile and I hope it continues. There are couple other issues; 1. The Resources Agency in ecosystem management is, of course, close to the boundary of and across the boundary of the Forest Service and other local land owners. One question is ... what is the geographic scope of the NOI? Would assume that it is the Forest Service boundary. This raises a question...what would the geographic scope be to engage in ecosystem management? We appreciate that 1 year is not quite enough time for the Forest Service to look beyond its boundary. We appreciate that geographic constraint that is partly due to the time frame we have. As we look to the future and ecosystem management, look to reinvent the relationships, how will the Forest Service respond to local planning efforts, for example, Placer County is now starting the development of a habitat conservation plan for the county. There is a patchwork ownership pattern in Placer County with Forest Service & private land. How will the Forest Service integrate its amendment with that new planning effort? Will this be covered in the NOI? That's the issue that needs to be considered as 1 step in the long term ecosystem management.
RESPONSE from Kent: The geography is the NF. Addressing the question regarding local land management planning. This project is of modest scope, so local is definitely appropriate within the broader context of an ecosystem. That's the pay off of the framework. That will definitely affect us in the longer run; we do not have the ability to do that exclusively without the involvement from Congress and without some sense of a public will. So that's a question that really transcends us. One of the major institutional misses is that those who benefit are not necessarily paying the investment cost or the cost of the benefit.
- To improve our ability to manage the ecosystem and improve our stewardship, federal investment is important. For example, given the patchwork ownership of the lands, maybe land exchanges would be an appropriate tool to consolidate land for better management of sensitive areas and then release other land for private ownership. So, will long term federal investment in the Sierra be part of or be mentioned in the NOI?
- What is this NOI going to address? Is it appropriate to be an ecosystem document; is it not appropriate to be an ecosystem document? We need to address this. Need to take exception to the characterization of what Louis said the FACA committee found. The FACA committee did not find that the RDEIS was appropriate for dealing with the owl from a single-species context. It suggested that some changes be made to the document, but the document was not completely panned. Granted, it did not address from an ecosystem point of view, but the committee was kinder to the EIS in terms of the single-species evaluation.
We need to at some point, go back to what the Regional Forester laid out when this framework process was initiated. What is task 3; and what is task 4? Task 3 is an EIS that deals with priority issues of conservation and addresses interim management plans. It's not supposed to be an ecosystem management document that attempts to address everything. That was per the direction of the Regional Forester laid out in April 98 in the letter to Chairman Don Young and said this is where the Region is going. At some point, we need to get back to the framework process as initiated and get focused on the priority issues of conservation that got us into this whole thing. That would be the spotted owl issue and how to address it through fire and fuels. We do not have time to address the other issues in an EIS right now. There's comments in the science report that says when it comes to the aquatic issues, amphibian pop issues, we need more science. The same with range. So, in terms of trying to rush and whether we need to do an ecosystem management document in this stage of the process with an EIS, I have to offer a different view. I do not believe the Regional Forester initiated this project to be that, and I don't believe we have the time to do that, and do it properly.
- I agree; we need to go back and look carefully at how we got here. The FACA team made two findings: 1. The CalOwl EIS was an issue-oriented document which dealt primarily in the owl context, and they said there are a couple other issues you need to address, such as fire/fuels and others. They thought it was O.K. as an issue-oriented document and made some changes to it. 2. The ultimate way to go is to an ecosystem management document. That is where we need to go, but you cannot get there from here because we do not have the process that allows for ecosystem management. There are some issues that can best be handled by ecosystem management and maybe can only be addressed by ecosystem management. The team said very clearly, we think you need to develop a process by the next round of Forest Plans; it should not be a crash exercise. Take some time to develop that process and get it in place for the next round of Forest plans. This is clearly not a revision of Forest plans, it is an issue driven approach to comply with the critical needs of the Sierra. Address those critical issues. Looking down the road, there will be a revision of those Forest Plans, which you will hopefully have an ecosystem approach in place at that time that will address issues that really require an ecosystem approach. In which case, we would bring in all other agencies and land managers and try to get coordinated as possible so that issue is taken care of across boundaries. At this particular time, there are two approaches, and I think those approaches need to be kept separate.
RESPONSE from Hal: You have identified exactly where we are. We are on task 3, which is driven by issues. They happen to be interrelated and are because of the landscape. We are doing task 3 in a way that builds collaboration and the open process and broader inclusion of science is setting us up for the longer term ecosystem approach that will take 3 or 4 years.
Comments Regarding Agency and Community Relationships
- Question to Kent & Hal: How do you deal with the relationships between the agencies that you have to deal with concerning issues like this, and how do you stop a trump from being played, such as if EPA goes against some of the efforts and the consensus of a group like this, in regards to the management strategies that you have in mind?
RESPONSE from Kent: There will be no trumping simply by changing the ID Team structure and by bringing the perspectives onto the team. There are so many parts and opinions, and even if you had Congress and all the Forest Service, there would not be enough here to set policy in the Sierra. But by doing this you would have improvements. The point of the term paper is to lay out the pledges, promises, commitments, resolves, etc. and involve other agencies so the paper expands in content and transcends the Forest Service boundaries, just as the environment does, and the policy involved reflects an integrated perspective.
RESPONSE from Hal: There are two levels - 1. Putting employees of regulatory agencies on ID planning team to ensure subsequent needs are being addressed. 2. At Lynn/Hal's level, continue dialogue with agency heads to address issues from a policy standpoint. The executive level oversight committee has not been established yet.
- Should the executive level oversight committee be made formal to protect the process?
RESPONSE: The offer is there, but not resulted yet.
- There is concern when we talk of consensus and collaboration in this process. Cooperation and collaboration is not what we are engaging here. Some want to see this process evaporate. Do not mislead the public. We are actually engaging in the most open process that our policy and guidelines provide.
RESPONSE from Kent: That is a better characterization. We are trying to be as open and inclusive in as an effective way as possible. An effort and ideal to collaborate would be something that I would add. There is a sense of some significant progress, because there is no obligation for this meeting to occur. It results from the resolve of the participants to show up. Judged against past experience, we are making progress. Judged against the ideal and what remains in the future, there is a lot of room for improvement.
- In general, the Resources Agency agrees with the sentiments of Laurel (SNA), EPA and the Department of Forestry, as well as comments on the SNEP report. Interagency relationships must be improved to properly care for the natural resources. So the FACA committee seems like one element to strengthening these ties. Maybe an MOU in regards to the CA Fire Plan. EPA may require a different vehicle to respond to their concerns. The Resources Agency would be very supportive in the approach of structured, long-term relationships that allows for greater collaboration between agencies and greater accountability.
- We talk about establishing trust and having all these meetings to encourage involvement. Regardless of the breadth of this effort, there will always be someone who will show up at the end of this process and want to be heard. You can't get rid of all of that, but you would be foolish to think that a whole lot of people are not participating because they don't trust the process. They have to be eased back into it.
- Will there be an integration of the planning efforts with other levels of government?
RESPONSE from Kent: The federal obligation can transcend the Forest Service, which is why there is participation from EPA and consultation from the Fish & Wildlife Service. NEPA says you need to go outside the Federal government. That kind of involvement will occur.
- Would really like clarification of relationships between the agencies; i.e. how the Forest Service is working with EPA. I am leery of a trump taking place somewhere down the line. If this is going to be an attempt of the Forest Service of how we're going to act in the future, then it would be nice to have something that would clarify that relationship, and whether there's going to be an MOU.
- They are not going to do anything that will make me (EPA) trump it. They are just going to do whatever I tell them.
- What about the relationship between CalFed and the upper watershed project? How does the Sierra Nevada effort fit into the CalFed effort? Is there a stepping away of the Forest Service from the CalFed and upper watershed issues? Thirdly, we are dealing with Forest Service lands and whether there is intent down the road that there should be some sort of agreement with state, local and tribal on regional planning issues. Is that somewhat of a long-term goal as part of the effort? If things happen in terms of a QLG-type proposal of legislation and that becomes a management tool, then how will that become incorporated into this process?
RESPONSE from Karen Barnette - I do not know if you ever talk to Julie Tupper in our office about CalFed. We are not stepping back; in fact, we are continuing with the upper watershed strategy, so maybe more discussion needs to take place.
- We are getting caught up in terms. Regardless of what landbase we are managing, we are always managing an ecosystem. And so at this given moment, our management is constrained by only national forest lands, we still have to consider the resources in the context of the ecosystem. So they cannot be separated. That is one of the issues we (SNFPC) will be bringing forward...we are always planning within the context of the ecosystem. Because of our societal constraints, we might not be able to integrate that in as much as we like at this point in time, but aquatic systems are a part of an ecosystem, and the Forest Service has a responsibility for them. So I expect that there will be a component of ecosystem integration in this document. Whether it gets to ecosystem management that people think of as a social context that we have everybody sitting at the table making some decisions about what we want our human environment to look like...no, I do not think that is possible, but it will be in the context of consistency.
-In terms of Steve's presentation, some caution in terms of the language in the science review. Beware of blanket statements without facts to back it up. For example, the term "desire" is very subjective. It may just be a case that choosing which blanket statements end up on the overhead sheets is more subjective than objective based on facts. Often these are just flash points.
- Science in unbiased role is inappropriate. We say we are waiting for science to ripen, but at the same time, there is a lot of science that's rotting because it's not being used in the same analysis. We talk of integration, but remember that most science is NOT integrated. Public perception is often counter or opposite to science. How will that be dealt with? Do we ignore it? Does that mean we need to educate? We have removed science from the process and expect it to be the answer, but there is the same kind of integration problems in science.
Mike Chapel - Asking the group if there is interest in coming back after lunch to continue the discussion. Not much energy for that. So, is the group interested in getting back together soon after the NOI is released to discuss the details of the NOI, the next steps of the EIS and other related steps? I see a fair number of nods.
The Forest Service staff will do the following as a result of what we have heard today:
1. Put term paper including the themes of public comment onto the WEB by sometime on Friday, Oct. 16.
2. Add some text to respond to questions and comments like Lon's about the need to capture the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act provisions.
3. Get together a legal paper regarding the limitations and advantages of the Federal Advisory program, for which we will have more discussion at the next meeting.
Garland - the grazing report is on the web and has been distributed to folks who requested it. We are asking for comments by Oct.19. The final report will depend on the number, type and nature of the comments; some may require more response time.
Kent - Steve Bishop is the range specialist on the ID team.
Rick - folks can access the PSW web-page from the Regional Office web page.
Click on SN Framework button in center. On left is a number of options. There is a link to the PSW review. Click there. You will find the grazing report listed as "SN ecosystem and the presence of livestock". Under that is "table of contents", but it is really the whole document.
Mike - reminder of email addresses. Also send comments regarding term paper to Connie Millar and John Phipps.
1. The R5 Forest Service Web Page:
2. The PSW Research Station Web Page:
To Access the Grazing paper on the R5 Web-site
From the R5 website, click on the center button marked Sierra Nevada Framework. A menu of options will appear on the left side of the screen. Click on Science Review, which will link you to the PSW web page. Look under "Sierra Nevada Ecosystem and the Presence of Livestock"; you will see the table of contents. Click on that because it actually contains the entire document.
USDA Forest Service
Sierra Nevada Framework
801 "I" Street, Rm 419
Sacramento, CA 95814
Email: sierra email@example.com
Term Paper Comments
Please direct to:
Connie Millar at email: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Phipps at email: email@example.com
Sunday, January ,(, /),( 0(:,(:,( AM