QUESTIONS POSED BY STUDENTS ENROLLED IN A UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS SEMINAR
Dr. Don Erman and Nancy Erman hosted a seminar on the Quincy Library Group on January 26. Invited presenters were Linda Blum (Quincy Library Group, Louis Blumberg (The Wilderness Society) and Michael De Lasaux (University of California Cooperative Extension and Quincy Library Group).
The questions below were submitted to the Ermans who then forwarded them to the Linda Blum. Responses to the questions are provided below or, where appropriate, links are provided to previously prepared answers elsewhere in the website.
Each student was to ask 3 questions. Each question is numbered using a system of x.x where the number to the lefft of the period is the student number and the number to right is the question number.
1.1 Will the Quincy Library Group Act increase the amount of logging that National Forests receive?
This question is answered well in the QLG's misperceptions and facts page.
1.2 Is the amount of logging that is marked to occur in the forests the ammount necessary for effective fire suppression, or is it the ammount needed to insure loggers jobs. If it is excess to the amount needed to suppress fires, how much is excess?
The amount of harvest prescribed in the legislation is necessary to initiate a "system of "defensible fuel profile zones" (DFPZs), initially using a variety of silvicultural treatments, to limit the spread of large, stand replacing fires. Once developed, these DFPZs will serve as areas of entry into larger landscapes to facilitate more widespread fuel treatments, such as thinning, and will allow more widespread use of prescribed fire to meet management objectives." SNEP, volume I, Chapter 4, page 69. See also SNEP volume II, Chapter 56, page 1478 for a better understanding of the QLG fuel strategy or the QLG's white paper on its fuel strategy.
1.3 Is there any prescribed fire usage in the plan? Would the plans discourage prescribed burning?
The use of prescribed fire is not specifically discussed in the legislation. The QLG's proposal/legislation does not discourage prescribed burning. The members of the QLG expect that prescribed fire will be applied to areas following thinning that reduces stand density by thinning intermediate and small diameter trees. See the Highway 89 DFPZ photographs to get a perspective on how the forest may look following thinning. As a matter of fact two projects undertaken with funds attributed to the QLG's public participation efforts have or are about to receive prescribed fire treatments (ie. Calpine and Westside Biomass).
1.4 Thinking of the history of the forests, are the changes in trees species being taken into account?
Yes, the change in species composition is being taken into account. In The California Spotted Owl: A Technical Assessment of its Current Status it is stated that "It is reasonable to infer that the proportion of fir (basal area or volume) has increased by perhaps 10-20 percent, while the proportion of yellow and sugar pines has decreased by a similar amount. We are surprised that this trend has not been stronger, given the preference for logging yellow and sugar pine and the expected successional patterns of the forest", Chapter 11, page 237. The thinning prescriptions are generally described in the QLG's Silviculture white paper.
1.5 Could new discoveries in forest ecological health change the pilot project while its occuring. Is monitoring really enough, what if new things turn up?
Each individual project undertaken as part of the pilot project requires an Environmental Assessment which requires consideration of new information. Monitoring is the only way to determine effects. Monitoring in the QLG area is among the best that there is.
2.1 Although the spotted owl is being protected, are the surrounding area and the animals that the spotted owls feed upon being protected as well to allow the owls to thrive as if the forest was left unmolested?
Yes, each Spotted Owl Habitat Area (SOHA) and Spotted Owl Protected Activity Center (PAC) is reserved from treatment. Forest Land Management Direction for SOHAs is to maintain at least 1,000 acres of suitable spotted owl habitat within a 1.5-mile radius of the known or potential spotted owl nest site. PACs, of 300 acres of suitable/nesting/roosting habitat is delineated around the next site or primary roost site in all known spotted owl sites in the Sierra Nevada. No stand-altering activities may occur within PACs.(The California Spotted Owl: A Technical Assessment of its Current Status; Verner Jared, et.al.; General Technical Report PSW-GTR-133. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture)
The legislation does not propose any harvest treatment that is beyond those of existing guidelines and in fact states that "All spotted owl habitat areas and protected activity centers located within the pilot project area designated under subsection (b)(2) will be deferred from resource management activities required under subsection (d) and timber harvesting during the term of the pilot project."
2.2 "National forests belong to all Americans", as is stated in the San Francisco Chronicle. If this is so then why isn't the federal government attempting to resolve the problem between the Quincy Library Group and the citizens in this area. This is such a heated debate that I wonder why the federal government does not alleviate tension on such an important controversy.
When the QLG announced its agreement, the Community Stability Proposal, they asked that the Land and Resource Management Plans for the affected forests be ammended or revised to consider the new information embodied in the CASPO report and to consider their proposal. They expected that the ammendment/revision process would be undertaken in observance of all applicable federal laws and that all Americans could partcipate in the process. The QLG believed that the "amenity" alternatives were preferable to the commodity alternatives selected by the forests.
Rather than begin revisions/ammendments to the Lassen, Plumas and Tahoe National Forests, Region 5 of the Forest Service began a Sierra Nevada wide Environmental Impact Statement process to identify an "ecosystem management approach" to managing California Spotted Owl habitat. That process has bogged down and now nearly 5 years later, with the release of the Draft EIS and then the near release of the Revised Draft EIS and then the review by the Chartered Federal Advisory Commitee the Region is beginning a new process to develop and initiate a Sierra Nevada Conservation Framework.
2.3 Instead of claiming that logging at least 70,000 acres each year in a 2.5 million acre stretch will create "fire breaks", why doesn't the forest service, in conjuction with the Quincy Library Group, log initially approximately 70,000 acres and wait a few years to see if the claim is correct. If it is so, then let the policy be enacted. If not, then strike down the policy and possibly come up with an alternative policy. Basically, my question out of all of this is "would my proposal be possible"?
The QLG's DFPZ strategy is based upon a rate and scale that is designed to accomplish full implementation in 5 years.
The Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project (SNEP) proposed a "Potential Fuel Management Strategy for Sierra Nevada Forests" with three general goals, ranging from short to long term and from narrow to broad (SNEP, Volume II, Chapter 56).
"The first goal-- the immediate need from a fire-management standpoint-- is to reduce substantially the area and average size burned by large, severe wildfires in the Sierra Nevada. Ideally this will be a short-to medium-term goal, whose urgency will lessen as the fuel-management strategy becomes increasingly effective. A second, longer-term goal should be to restore more of the ecosystem functions of frequent low-to moderate-severity fire. The two goals are closely linked. They could be met simultaneously by replacing most ofthe high-severity acreage with the same, or preferably much greater, acreage of low- to moderate severity fire. A third, overarching goal is to improve the health, integrity, and sustainability of Sierra Nevada ecosystems. This goal certainly goes beyond fire considerations. Progress toward achieving the first two goals, however, is critical to the third." (ibid)
"Components of the strategy include: (1) networks of defensible fuel profile zones (DFPZs) created and maintained in high-priority locations; (2) enhanced use of fire for restoring natual processes and meeting other ecosystme management goals; and (3) expansion of fuel treatments to other appropriate aras of the landscape, consistent with desired ecosystem conditions." (ibid)
"Given the massive scope of the problem that goal 1 is intended to address, a carefully considered strategy is required for prioritizing fuel treatments." (ibid)
In this paper the authors also discussed the concept of adaptive management. They state that "A key concept of adaptive management is that we cannot wait for perfect information, because we will never have it. Despite uncertainties, we much move forward with managing for sustainable ecosystems using the best information we have, knowing that with time we will learn more and be able to manage more intelligently." (ibid)
"The subject of landscape-level fuel-management strategies is certainly appropriate to address through adaptive management. for example, we can make educated assumptions about how a network of DFPZs might help to reduce high-severity fires and contribute to desired conditions and landscape diversity. Only through monitoring, experience, and time, however, will we know the validity of those assumptions. Only through adaptive management will we learn what locations, target conditions, and treatment schedules for implementing a DFPZ network will work for what kinds of landscapes-- or whether a DFPZ network makes sense in the first place." (ibid)
This is what Dr. John Menke had to say about the DFPZ strategy, "This concentration of capital outlays for a project could, for the first time, test the feasibility of investing in sustainable forest management, given 1997 initial forest-fuel conditions, at a scale where results can be believed"
3.1 Why can they do control burns like in Nat Forests like Yosemite? Is the entire Sierra Nevada Ecosystem area inhabited by Spotted Owls? Is the spotted Owl the reason whey there are no control burns?
The National Forests do control burns otherwise known as prescribed burns. "The effectiveness of the prescribed-fire program in the Sierra is limited chiefly by the scale at which is is currently applied. The extent of burning is negligible when compared to the historic fire regimes." The SNEP shows a compariason of the number of acres burned using prescribed fire in 1993 and 1994 to planned future acreage per year (SNEP, Volume II, Chapter 40).
Unit Acres Burned in 1993 Acres Burned in 1993 Future Acres/Year Lassen National Forest 9,193 6,772 not available Plumas National Forest 5,099 4,443 10,000 Tahoe National Forest 2,725 not available not available
"Since 1970 biologists have identified California spotted owls at 1,112 sites (an area with either a pair or a single where a pair could be supported) in National Forests in the Sierra Nevada province. Between 1987 and 1991 586 pairs were verified at 1,028 of these sites. The National Forests estimate a potential for approximately 250 more sites. Estimated number of Owls on all lands within the Sierra Nevada are shown in the following table (The California Spotted Owl: A Technical Assessment of its Current Status; Verner Jared, et.al.; General Technical Report PSW-GTR-133. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture). Since 1991 considerably more owls have been documented on private industrial forest lands.
Land Known Pairs National Forests 586 National Parks 59 Bureau of Land Management 1 State Parks 1 Private Industrial Forest 29 Other Private 21 Total 697
Prescribed burning is permitted in Spotted Owl Protected Activity Centers.
3.2 I would like to know more about the Alaskan logging thing that would arise if QLG proposal went through? (The 3rd speaker briefly blurted this out.) What was he getting at? Was he trying to make the proposal less credible?
3.3 Sierra Pacific Industry $20.3 million federally funded for logging. Did I hear that correctly?
3.4 Timber harvesting creates more fire risk. Is this so, if so then why is this proposal even being considered?
3.5 The 3rd speaker said lots of things concerning the environment that I would like more detain concerning and proof or theories as to how it effects the environment.
3.6 When is there going to be an EIS?
3.7 Explain the 40-60,000 acre number.
4.1 Concerning DFPZs. Mike said they were not a "final solution" and will be revamped when we get more information after 4-5 years. My question is why do we want to act before we have adequate information? and what happens in 4 years when/or if we find out what we've done is detrimental to the area? What will it take to repair the damages? Are the benefits worth the cost?
4.2 From the Quincy Libary Act it seems that the wildlife protection isn't covered well. Is the health of the Riparian areas a good enough gauge of overall health of the ecosystem as a whole? How does the Quincy Act maintain biodiversity?
4.3 Luis argued that there is no scientifically document increased risk of wildfires than were 1/2 century ago but have the circumstances changed? Would a widespread forest fire be more ecologically damaging now due to the damage we have done over the last 1/2 century?
5.1 How does the Forestry Service benefit (prestige? financial?) by submitting "false" information (not supported by scientific investigation)?
5.2 If QLG's priorities correspond with the interests of local control, how come Linda has been called an independent? (I think the answer to this question was explained during the discussion).
5.3 Do the diferences in the interests of the QLG, local control and the Forstry Service more relative to financial legal or financial interests?
6.1 How does the QLG help eliminate catastrophic wildfires? What do you do to the trees?
6.2 What qualifies as a "safe" logging rate? How fast do these trees grow back and won't we eventually run out of trees to log? Does the QLG have provisions for replanting?
6.3 What exactly was the significance of the Marsh vs. ONRC case?
7.1 How can QLG prevent forest fire by itself?
The QLG does not expect that its program will prevent forest fires. Its program is intended to provide a
7.2 Do QLG belong to Federal systems?
7.3 Where is the funding QLG can use? Who pay for the group's member.
8.1 Why are DFDZ not a final solution?
8.2 Why do we need three ecosystem management strategies to promote forest health?
8.3 Michael said that QLG legislation doesn't allow to set aside existing federal law. What will happen is QLLG legislation allow to do so?
9.1 What negative aspects result from the "quickness" of implanting fire protection in the wilderness?
9.2 I am more interested in, what where the specifics in recommendations, issues and demands for the forest service that the second speaker wished to address?
9.3 In the comment, "cutting trees does not create more jobs", what exactly does this mean? I thought that was the biggest controversy? Explain why jobs are not lost from this?
10.1 Do you think it would be viable to try this proposal on a smaller area, rather than experimenting on the whole 2.5 million acres?
10.2 Have DFPZs like the ones in this proposal proven or disproven to work anywhere in the US?
10.3 Do you think this is the best and only choice to save the forest?
11.1 What is the Quincy library group doing about their plans for protecting the old growth in their roadless areas?
11.2 Is the local control idea being done anywhere else in the U.S.? and if this legislation passes how can it effect other national forests?
11.3 How do the different scientists from SNEP feel about the Quincy library group legislation?
12.1 What are the primary sources of funding for the QLG? What if any, commercial or industrial enterprises might benefit from the goals of the QLG?
12.2 Still on clear on the focus of QLG. Do you profs. see any instance during this lecture where Linda and Mike had answered the same question but in different ways? ex: the question related to "local control"?
12.3 Is QLG's goal to protect wildlife habitat for its own sake or is there a much more specific goal in mind? Still unclear.
13.1 NEPA requires agencies to do EIS or EA but doesn't mean the best one will be chosen. How do we know local interests won't be of primary criteria for choosing "the best one? (for all of society).
13.2 The QLG list of representatives seems to include primarily, if not completely, local names and interests. In the interest and support of colaboration, can you name a few . . . or what major Nat'l Env. Groups have you asked to join you? (ie. - nature conservancy, NResouce Def. Council, Sierra Club)
13.3 What is the definition of watershed restoration? In my experience more logging = more erosion, etc.
13.4 Doesn't local interest tend to lean towards local benefits & cause market failures such as externalities & underprovided public goods. Who benefits most from this: society or Quincy local economy?
14.1 To Michael De Lasaux: Ambiguous language such as "significant damage" (in reference to spotted owl territory) can be problematic. Are there any qualitative or quantitative definitions of this term?
14.2 The numbers relecting the high sales and subsidies received byt he QLG area seem absolute, but they are based on a ratio of say, productivity & subsidies provided per acre? These numbers could be rather misleading if compared to varying areas of forest?
14.3 Will this legislation promote or restrict more such local control laws? Do you think that this movement could be a precursor for instigating bioregional divisions in the state?
15.1 In the S.F. Chronicle it states taht the topography is defined by watersheds. My understanding is that logging has a huge impact on watersheds, for example, the freshwater invertebrates. What is going to be done to rebuild the watersheds?
15.2 In the Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery and Economic Stability Act of 1997 I believe it is Mrs. Feinstein who states that the legislation must authorize sufficient funds and not take from other programs like wildlife protection, grazing and recreation. In the S.F. Chronicle it states that the "bill allows the Forest Service to shift money from other programs (wildlife protection, recreation grazing) to carry out this experimental logging program". My question is where is the money coming from, and if the latter is true, how much will the others suffer?
15.3 What is the Forest Service role in the decision process? It seems that all three speackers today had issues with what the Forest Service was doing.
16.1 The QLG has been both praised and criticized for its use of science or lack there of. What is the role of science in QLG legislation? In particular what changes, if any, have resulted from the recent SNEP report?
16.2 Fire safety: What roles do control burns and understory clearing (of non-harvestable debris) play in QLG's fire management plan?
16.3 How much room is there for change over the 5-10 year term of the project?
16.4 Why haven't non-protected areas been logged already?
16.5 What specific provisions are made by QLG legislation for riparian areas in the Sierra Nevada?
16.6 Timber industry fell by 14% but mills went up by 19%. What are net # of jobs? In PNW...
16.7 I understand that in many cases those areas which could be easily and economically logged already have and that continued harvest under current legislation is not and, in fact often requires government subsidies (i.e. for building and maintaining roads, particularly for rugged, hard to reach areas). What role to government subsidies play in continued logging in the Sierra Nevada?
17.1 Are there proective measures to ensure the integrity of the watersheds?
17.2 How will the ecosystems "down stream" be effected?
17.3 How do you know more logging will not increase fire hazards?
18.1 These are public lands being dealt with, yet the proposal would eliminate all but the local public from participation in National Forest management. Why don't you allow room for national input?
18.2 Has the firebreak (fuelbreak) mandate been tested before on such a large scale? If not, how can you be sured the approach even works, especially on such an aggressive scale?
18.3 How does the plan take into account the long-term economic and environmental viability of he forests? You suggest to protect sensitive wildlife and environmental areas, yet have implemented agressive logging in others. What will you do in fire yearss to continue management of the forest?
18.4 Why did you throw out the restriction of milling operations with your wood in other areas (like foreign counties)? It seems like foreign economic interests have input inot the plan over numerous regional interests?
19.1 According to the Quincy Library Group, what is the problem with the existin policies?
19.2 How much more wood is cut down under the plan by the Quincy Library Group?
19.3 Would the Quincy Library Group be willing to work with other scientists and then modify details and try the plan on a smaller scale?
20.1 How do you respond to allegation that the QLG bill is nothing more then a plan to allow more logging in the Sierra?
20.2 Why should the opinions of the Quincy Library Group be the only ones that count when it comes to the Sierra?
20.3 Which poses a greater threat to the health of the forest: fire or logging?
21.1 Why is it more beneficial to have the Quincy Library Group become dictators of policy in Ca/Sierra Ne. national forest as opposed to college educated forest service employees who have run the forest for years?
21.2 How much logging will be increased by the enactment of this bill?
See question 1.1
21.3 The forest service is undergoing downsizing trying to eliminate buracracy, will the QLG proposal hinder/or help the forest service downsizing process?
22.1 What agency or individuals conducted the SNEP reports?
22.2 What is the latest scientific evidence or reports surrounding these specific areas?
22.3 Currently, is the status of the bill? Has it been changed or updated since it was first proposed?
22.4 How will this affect the wildlife populations?
22.5 What is the EIS?
23.1 Louis Blumberg emphasized the proposed fire strategy is on too large a scale and too risky. Not enough is yet known about the potential outcome. Is there anywhere else in the world this fire strategy or a similar one has been implemented in a comparible ecosystem?
23.2 The Quincy Library Group dominated by local control restricting the input or consideration of other U.S. citizens? Is this fair?
23.3 With so much disagreement within the scientific community over the outcome of this legislation (if it passes) how difficult is it to change the legislation once it has passed?
Will Logging be increased? (1.1, 21.2)