Who is the Quincy Library Group
By Debra Moore, News Editor
Feather Publishing
Wednesday, September 17, 1997 Edition


  To some the Quincy Library Group is the savior of our national forests and valuable jobs. To others it is simply a lobbying group and for still more it is an evil organization intent on breaking environmental laws and destroying our timber lands.

  But who are the faces behind the title? What drives these individuals to volunteer years of their lives to the cause they represent?

  Since 1993, some of the faces have changed, but a core group has remained — meeting in the public room of the Plumas County Library, sometimes at a church annex or in the school district board room.

  At first, most of the meetings were punctuated by heated out bursts and hasty departures. But over the years, suspicions have lessened and trust has deepened.

  There are still heated exchanges during the monthly meetings, though they occur with less frequency.

  The meetings have an agenda, which invariably run behind schedule. Parliamentary rules are not strictly adhered to, and votes are informal. The members seem comfortable with the format.

  Though the Quincy Library Group has become a common term locally and in the halls of Congress, there are still many who believe that the Library Group meets to discuss books, not how to manage three national forests.

  The group received its unlikely name because of its original meeting location. The story surrounding the name has become almost mythical.

  As U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein tells it — "The Quincy Library Group members chose the public library because they couldn't yell at each other."

  But mostly the library was chosen because it was a neutral meeting place.

  The Quincy Library Group was born after years of frustration and a desire to respond to President Clinton's challenge to get out of the courtroom.

  Tired of years of litigation and watching the area's once healthy forests become overgrown and diseased, then Supervisor Bill Coates, approached environmental attorney Michael Jackson and said, "Let's talk."

  They were joined by Tom Nelson, a professional forester with Sierra Pacific Industries.

  It was a formidable threesome — sometimes referred to as the "three gorillas."

  They formed the core and the backbone of the organization that the Quincy Library Group would eventually become. They represented the community, the environment and the timber industry.

  Soon the trio was joined by a number of other interested individuals — more industry professionals, more environmentalists and more concerned citizens.

  Each brought focused goals: stabilizing the economy, preserving jobs, protecting the environment, reducing the threat of fire, and bringing money to schools and roads.

  And each had a plan.

  There were disagreements about land base and target volumes, roadless areas and riparian zones.

  Finally the group agreed to disagree on certain points and move forward with the items upon which they could agree.

  A plan to manage the Plumas, Lassen, and parts of the Tahoe National Forest was developed.

  In 1994 members of the group traveled to Washington D.C. to discuss the plan and showcase the unique approach it was bringing to timber management.

  This year the group made a repeat trip, this time to lobby for specific legislation — the Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery and Economic Stability Act of 1997, authored by U.S. Rep. Wally Herger.

  The bill passed almost unanimously, 429 to one, and does the following: directs the Secretary of Agriculture to implement the program, protects the California spotted owl and riparian areas, calls for the construction of fuelbreaks on 40,000 to 60,000 acres annually with a number of conditions for a five year pilot program.

  A similar bill introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer is now working its way through the United States Senate.

  The group still meets on a monthly basis and is optimistic that the bill will be approved by the Senate and signed into law by the President this fall.

  Then the group will shift gears and enter the implementation phase of its work.

  The "three gorillas" will step back and let others in the group handle the daily work of seeing the work accomplished.

  One gets the sense that the group looks forward to the next phase with happiness and relief, but also a bit reluctance.

  It has been an intense and focused four years and relationships and friendships were forged from the most unlikely of individuals.

  And only time will tell if the Quincy Library Group is savior, lobbyist or destroyer.