Thank you to David Bebee for passing along this news report by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News. The Tongass Futures Roundtable has been discussed here on this blog a number of times in regards to the management of the Tongass, America’s largest National Forest.
The Tongass Futures Roundtable is shutting down. The organization tried to resolve Southeast Alaska forest-issue conflicts. It formed about seven years ago.
Organizers hoped to bring together all parties involved in the forest to craft compromises on land-use issues, such as logging and habitat protection.
“The roundtable brought people together who had never had to sit across from each other at a table. The normal environment was a courtroom,” says Bruce Botelho, the group’s facilitator and moderator.
The former attorney general and Juneau mayor says roundtable members decided to end their work during a meeting earlier this month.
“One of the benefits for us to dissolve right now is to create the opportunity for people to come together and perhaps learn from our experience, but also build on it. And one would hope that any assembly of stakeholders would truly bring back the whole range of participants,” he says.
“We didn’t have enough movement in the direction we felt needed to occur,” says State Forester Chris Maisch, one of the original roundtable members.
“So the governor decided it would be best to put state energy and time and resources into a task force, which he established through an administration order,” he says.
Maisch chaired that task force, which released its final report a few months ago.
It recommended a number of actions meant to increase logging. One was expanding state forests. Another was revising state rules to help small timber operators.
Yet another called for the federal government to turn two million acres of the Tongass over to the state to be managed for harvest.
Maisch says the timber task force has since shut down.
Botelho says the roundtable eventually decided it couldn’t fully do its work without the groups that left. It will cease operations July 1st. But he says it achieved some of its goals.
“We devoted a great deal of time to examining the proposed mental health land exchange between the state and the trust and ended up endorsing a process, which is underway. And I think that, absent the support of the roundtable, would have been more difficult,” Botelho says.
He says some of the roundtable’s working groups will also continue meeting. One focuses on Alaska Native issues, another on sustainable forests.
The Tongass Futures Roundtable had about 35 members and tried to reach decisions by consensus. State Forester Maisch says that just didn’t work.
“It was a well-intentioned effort. And a lot of people spent a lot of time in trying to make that process work. And unfortunately, it just wasn’t the right time and the right place. So it’s too bad that it didn’t come to a better conclusion,” he says.
Roundtable Coordinator Norm Cohen says money was not the reason the group decided to dissolve.
On May 16, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen ruled in favor of conservation groups and found that the U.S. Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act when it failed to consult with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether its region-wide management direction for the threatened Canada lynx would destroy or adversely affect 10 million acres of designated critical habitat for the elusive feline.
In the past, the Forest Service had taken a project by project approach to managing critical habitat, but recovering Canada lynx requires managing their habitat at the large landscape scale. This ruling requires the Forest Service to sit down with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure its big-picture management scheme is protecting the 10 million acres of designated lynx critical habitat in the northern Rockies. The judge’s ruling impacts 11 national forests containing designated critical habitat in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
The lawsuit challenged the Forest Service’s failure to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the Northern Rockies Lynx Management Direction would not destroy lynx critical habitat. At the time the management direction was adopted, lynx critical habitat was only designated in three national parks—Glacier, North Cascades and Voyageurs. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service subsequently designated 10 million acres of critical habitat across 11 national forests in the northern Rockies after it determined that Julie MacDonald, a high ranking political appointee in the Bush Administration, had improperly interfered with critical habitat designations for several species, including the Canada lynx. The court ruling determined that the Forest Service should have consulted with the Fish and Wildlife Service when the new critical habitat was designated.
Yesterday I spent the day doing other things, so didn’t see Bob’s post on the Tinder Box book until last night.
We have posted on the book before (last October, even with a photo on the cover) with some interesting discussion here.
Here is a bit of my take and another side. But as folks can tell, it is kind of silly on the surface. I was in Region 5 before the Consent Decree and people were grumpy about “losing herbicides” and not having as much money as Region 6. They also didn’t understand how women in fire wouldn’t move down from Region 6 to take a downgrade! There was something very strange about the way it was (mis) managed in 5 compared to 6. But since the people running things at the time were not women, then it really couldn’t have been women’s fault. Similarly, the CD was only in Region 5, which is not equivalent to the Forest Service as a whole. Region 6, where I started, seemed to have an attitude “just get on with it, if we don’t do it on our own terms, we’ll do it on someone else’s.” Of course, they had more money.. and so on the conversation could go.
But I think Travis said something very pertinent in his comment here, and after all, as I understand it, Travis is one of the future generation:
I also liked that Travis quoted Faulkner “the past is not dead, it’s not even past”.
This is “a new century” for the Forest Service, as the blog title suggests. Misogynistic, spiteful, morally-wrong and legally-impossible arguments are not helpful in a debate about the direction of the agency in the 21st century.
I read that comment, and then saw the Mandela quote posted above.
What would it take for us to leave our past (timber wars in Oregon, diversity wars in California) behind and imagine a future as good as we could all mutually make it?
According to my friends at the Buffalo Field Campaign:
May 13, 14 and 15 a tax payer funded helicopter harassed the Yellowstone ecosystem, both within Yellowstone National Park and portions of the Gallatin National Forest just outside the Park. Flying at times 20 feet above the earth and Madison River the management actions disrupted all in the area. Pregnant buffalo Moms and new born calves where ran up to 12 miles in the hazing operation.
You can watch some “highlights” of this taxpayer-funded torture of America’s last wild bison on public lands in Yellowstone National Park and the Gallatin National Forest, but be warned that some of the images are likely to turn your stomach and make you mad.
UPDATE: I just got an email from a family that lives in the Horse Butte area just outside of Yellowstone National Park. This family stated that US Department of Homeland Security agents came onto their private land and removed their “no trespassing” signs, told the family never to put up the “no trespassing” signs again, claiming it was a threat to federal agents. Yep, that’s right people, the US Department of Homeland Security is spending your tax dollars hazing wild bison with helicopters!
It seems like I’ve written this same sentence numerous times over the past few years, so I might as well just paste it here again:
“The Colt Summit timber sale – and subsequent appeal and lawsuit – on the Lolo National Forest in Montana has been the source of much previous debate on this site, even though this was the first timber sale lawsuit on the Lolo National Forest in over 6 years.”
In 2009 the Colt Summit timber sale was included as a Forest Service-generated project in the grant proposal the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative (SWCC) in Montana submitted to the Forest Service for funding under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Program.
As I’ve pointed out previously, back in 2009 to 2010 the Lolo National Forest Supervisor was the co-chair of the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative, meaning that essentially the Lolo National Forest Supervisor was writing a grant proposal to the Forest Service as a Forest Service employee to fund the Forest Service. And yet this is called “collaboration?”
Even today, 33% of the voting members of the SWCC are current, paid Forest Service employees. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative group requires new members to sign a “Duty of Loyalty Oath” prior to full participation, which reads: “Each member of the collaborative has a duty of loyalty to the collaborative.”
(There might be a few awkward transitions in this post, and here comes the first one.)
The reason I’m bringing up all this background information about the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative and the Colt Summit timber sale is because of the extraordinary lengths some members of that group – mainly the Montanan Wilderness Association and the Bozeman office of The Wilderness Society – went to when Friends of the Wild Swan and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed an appeal, and subsequent lawsuit, against the logging portions of the Colt Summit timber sale because they believed the Forest Service’s cumulative effects analysis for Canada lynx was inadequate.
Readers may recall that the Montana Wilderness Association was essentially lying to the public telling them that the lawsuit was threatening important watershed restoration work that was part of the project. Turns out, the plaintiffs never challenged any of that work and the Forest Service admitted that the restoration work was already under contract and moving forward. When we attempted to point out this fact on the social media sites of the Montana Wilderness Association, those fact-based, professional comments were simply censored and removed by Montana Wilderness Association employees and we were banned from ever commenting on the site again. Great example of open, inclusive, transparent “collaboration,” eh?
My belief is that much of the PR work from Montana Wilderness Association and a few of the other collaborators about the Colt Summit timber sale and the SWCC was essentially an extension of the million dollar plus PR campaign we’ve seen in Montana for the past 6 years to support Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.
The expensive TV ads, full page newspaper ads, the radio spots, the dog-n-pony, one-sided “public” meetings, the canned talking-points inspired letters to the editor (which I suspect are generated by MWA employees who then call their members or simply get an unsuspecting 19 year old college students to sign and submit the LTE) and so forth. Make no mistake, and I’ve said this before, some of what we are witnessing in Montana under the guise of “collaboration” is nothing more than a political take-over of some of our national forests that has the potential to forever change America’s public lands legacy for the worse.
Which brings me back to the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. We’ve debated the merits of this program before on the blog and some of us have questioned the “accomplishments” that those supporting the CFLRP program seem to tout every year.
For example, when the CFLRP participants released the supposed list of program accomplishments just prior to Christmas last year, Sharon wrote, “A little birdie told me that some of the figures in the report below are not accurate” in regards to the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program report.
I made a comment that, “Obviously some people put a lot of effort into this fancy-looking report to pat themselves on the back for the supposed achievements of the CFLRP, but I’m calling BS on many of the achievement claims made by these CFLRP collaborators in this report. There is simply no way possible that all of the work listed in the report was achieved with a little CFLRP funding. Many of these CFLRP collaboratives are dramatically over-inflating accomplishments directly attributed to the CFLRP and are taking credit for work that the Forest Service would have done anyway, regardless of if CFLRP passed or if $10 million was allocated to these 10 projects around the country.”
In other words, I firmly believe that some members of some CFLRP’s around the country are double- and triple-counting to make their program seem more successful than it actually is. It’s almost as if they give the public the impression that the Forest Service has zero budget outside of what the CFLR program provides.
For example, if CFLRP funding accounts for 25% of the funding needed to complete X amount of logging on a certain forest should the CFLRP collaborators claim credit for the entire X amount of logging? Or would it be more honest for the CFLRP collaborators to claim credit for 25% of the logging? I certainly believe that the later is entirely more accurate, while the former is a complete exaggeration bordering on outright lying.
(Another awkward transition….)
So, this morning I was sent a copy of the latest meeting notes for the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative group from Friends of the Wild Swan, a group that’s keeping close tabs on some of the goings-on with the SWCC in their backyard.
What really caught my eye was this statement of fact in the notes:
“Nationally over the 20 CFLR projects there have been 49 decisions. Of those, 47% have been appealed or objected to and one litigated. Several of the appellants were part of local collaborative group.”
What’s that? You mean that while some of these CFLR collaborators are using some questionable accounting procedures to make it seem like their program is much more successful than it really is, these same CFLR collaborators aren’t letting the public know in their glossy, end-of-the-year accomplish report that 47% of all CFLR project decisions have been appealed? Including appeals by some of the same people/groups/interests that are part of these collaborative groups?
Since this figure was presented by the Forest Service and placed into official notes of the SWCC, one has to assume that somewhere, somebody has an actual spreadsheet or report about the fact that 47% of all CFLR project decisions have been appealed/objected to. For certain, I’ll be in contact with the SWCC to see if they will provide more information about this, and I’d encourage other people around the country to write their CFLR collaborative and see what additional information can be uncovered.
The public deserves nothing but full openness and transparency when it comes to the management of America’s public lands, so hopefully some members of these CFLR collaboratives will cease the shell-game PR campaign and be more honest about the CFLR program.
UPDATE: Sandy Mack, the Forest Service’s Liaison Officer for the Southwestern Crown of the Continent CFLRP just sent me the following spreadsheet based on my information request. I haven’t had time to look it over, but wanted to make sure it was up here so anyone interested could take a look at it.
As an aside, does anyone else know of another CFLRP collaborative in the country that has it’s own Forest Service-appointed (and paid) Liaison Officer? Is that a common practice? Or could it just be further proof that what’s happening in Montana with the SWCC is way outside the norms of Forest Service “collaboration?”
First, let’s go back to the Mike Dombeck quote I cited previously from this article in Forest History:
The most enduring and powerful maxim of business is that “money flows to things people want.” People want their cultural heritage protected, clean air and water, healthy forests and rangelands, good hunting and fishing, sustainable supplies of timber and forage, etc.
Actually, Mike’s only listing of recreation was hunting and fishing on this list, but recreation is clearly the #1 use of the national forests by people of the U.S. (and other countries).
Friday, I reviewed the history of the sustainability concept in various planning rules. In the 2012, a new concept hit the street. This is “sustainable recreation”. I know all of you who are specific and careful about words are wondering “what’s up with that?” doesn’t everything have to be sustainable? Why single out recreation to be called “sustainable recreation” every time?
Well, it’s not really clear but I guess it’s because there is an internal strategy/framework about “sustainable recreation.” Here is a link to a document about the strategy from 2010. The strategy is an easy read, and makes a great deal of sense. I thought it was well done, even though I’m not usually a fan of “strategies.” I didn’t find anything particularly novel, although I’d be interested in what readers of this blog think.
However, I wonder about the “sustainability” (ink, paper, electrons) of adding an extra word (sustainable) every time you write about one of the multiple uses in a regulation when it’s already required to be sustainable.
So let’s see how it is talked about in the 2012 Rule.
The final rule provides direction for sustainable recreation throughout the planning process. The final rule retains the term ‘‘sustainable recreation’’ to recognize that planning should identify, evaluate, and provide a set of recreational settings, opportunities and access for a range of uses, recognizing the need for that set to be sustainable over time.
Again, everything has to be sustainable so…??
Ah so now we encounter the Directives, let’s look at BRC’s comments:
E. The draft Handbook at 23.22b – “Sustainable Recreation Resources” and “Opportunities to Connect People with Nature” Does Not Properly Track the Rule
The draft Handbook inappropriately modifies the definition of Sustainable Recreation. Again, the Handbook contradicts the Rule, and whether intentionally or otherwise sets up the agency to fail the newly-configured duty to provide “sustainable recreation.” The Rule states: Sustainable recreation. The set of recreation settings and opportunities on the National Forest System that is ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable for present and future generations.
(36 CFR 219.19)
The draft Handbook modifies this definition here:
Plan components must provide for sustainable recreational settings, opportunities, and access. Sustainable recreation opportunities and settings are those that are economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable for the future. To be sustainable, the set of recreational settings and opportunities must be within the fiscal capability of the planning unit, be designed to address potential user conflicts among recreationists, and be compatible with other plan components including those components that provide for ecological sustainability.
(Chapter 20 at 23.22b Page 80 underline emphasis added) I
Ironically, the Rule’s definition of “sustainable” recreation troubled agency recreation staff, who proposed changes to the definition that they feared would “set the bar too high.” See email correspondence dated Oct. 13, 2011 (AR 0125036-0125039). The draft Handbook not only ignores but builds on these fears, again with the effect of creating an unnecessarily high burden.
Most, if not all, USFS Programs are not adequately funded. Indeed, the shortfall in the roads maintenance budget, and the trail maintenance backlog for trails in designated Wilderness, is well documented. The language here raises the concern that the agency may attempt to rely on lack of funding as an excuse for lack of effort and creativity in comprehensive recreational planning and motorized recreational travel planning specifically.
That’s the BRC point of view.. my point of view is … let’s call things as they are and not redefine commonly used expressions like sustainable, (or restoration, for that matter) to mean something different. It seems like you are trying to put something over on the public rather than clarifying your intentions and being transparent.
If the FS means ” there’s a great many multiple uses, but only recreation will be subject to the “fiscal capacity” test. I wouldn’t call that “sustainable” because it doesn’t have the same meaning as other uses of the term. I would call it “fiscally prudent” recreation approach. Other proposed terms are welcome in the comments. In English, are they thinking:
We fully recognize that recreation is the most popular to the citizens of the US who provide this funding. We also value our partnerships, volunteers and other ways (outlined in the Sustainable Recreation Framework).
But we are holding recreation to a higher standard than any other use, because ______.
I’m trying to understand how they would fill in the blank.
It seems to send a message “we’re not so sure we want you recreationists out there, despite all the partnerships and volunteering” which could ultimately be a funding death spiral. Not enough money, we’ll kick you out, you won’t want to fund the FS, therefore fewer people and shoddier facilities, so more will be kicked out..
As Mike Dombeck said above, “money flows to things people want.”
Or perhaps recreationists aren’t organized enough across the motorized and non-motorized spectra to resist, as oil and gas, timber or ranching might be, so they are an easy target for integrity- promotion? Or maybe it just sounded like a good idea to someone and was stuck in the directives randomly?
Maybe someone can shed some light on this.
The following introduction was written by Greg Petrich with the Alaska Chapter, North American Bear Foundation. After the intro is a guest column written by Don Cornelius and Jack Gustafson. Mr. Cornelius and Mr. Gustafson are former Area Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Habitat Division; with a combined experience of over 32 years reviewing Tongass National Forest, and private Native corporation logging issues. – mk
Senate bill S.340 (currently pending in Senate Natural Resources Committee) would transfer premium cherry picked Tongass National Forest lands to the private for-profit Sealaska Native corporation – violating a previous settled contract with the US government to select final land claims inside non-controversial agreed upon boundaries. A product of political influence it has become one of the most controversial issues ever to hit Southeast Alaska.
Two of the regions most respected and well known habitat professionals: Don Cornelius, and Jack Gustafson examine this bill’s potential impact on a globally rare and threatened resource – the tiny fraction of the land that holds the massive “giant trees” of the Tongass. – Greg Petrich, Alaska Chapter, North American Bear Foundation.
Congress Considers S.340. An Alaska Big-Tree Old Growth Transfer to Private Corporation
By Don Cornelius and Jack Gustafson
Legislation sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) would transfer approximately 70,000 acres of public land in scattered locations across Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to the Sealaska Corporation, primarily for extensive industrial scale clearcut logging other commercial development.
The bottom line on S.340 is:
A) It is completely unnecessary; and
B) It is a very poor environmental trade off of lands and resources, and not in the public interest.
C) It sets a precedent, and an inequity, in the transfer of lands outside the public review process, potentially opening new claims by Native corporations across the state.
The proposed legislation (S. 340) would enable the Sealaska Corporation, to reopen and rewrite basic terms of Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971) in order to make alternative land selections in the Tongass, including some of the region’s most valuable large-tree old growth. Under current law, the Sealaska Corporation has already made its final land selections but is now seeking legislation to renege on their original ‘requested’ deal to obtain more commercially valuable Tongass public lands.
Sealaska’s controversial proposal has attracted opposition from small towns scattered throughout the southeast Alaska panhandle region as well as a diverse assortment of sportsmen and conservation groups concerned about habitat impacts. Several of the publicly owned areas now being sought for logging by the Sealaska Corporation have exceptional ecological value identified as conservation priorities through a comprehensive Tongass-wide habitat assessment process by The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Alaska.
A letter jointly submitted about the bill from The Wildlife Society, The Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Wildlife Forever, Safari Club International and more than a dozen other sports groups describes the legislation as “fundamentally flawed” and asks that the bill not advance further. Trout Unlimited also opposes the legislation for not adequately protecting high-value salmon producing watersheds that would be transferred out of the national forest to be logged by Sealaska.
The Tongass National Forest contains a significant portion of the earth’s last remaining significantly-sized tracts of this forest type. Large-tree old growth stands have always been scarce as well as long-targeted by loggers since the first days of commercial logging. Today, they constitute a very small fraction of the overall landscape. Size class 6 and 7 combined represent 3.4% of the land area. Size class 7 alone, which include stands with up to 200,000 board feet per acre (think of trees 10-12+ feet in girth and worth a quarter million dollars per acre) today occur on just half a percent of the land base.
Past Tongass operations have been exceedingly hard on these unique and rare large-tree stands. These very special stands are far more than just visually impressive, evolved over a millennium, they constitute the richest and most valuable wildlife habitat on the Tongass.
The public lands that would be transferred to Sealaska under S. 340 include some of the region’s most biologically productive areas. The bill would enable the corporation to “high-grade” ― i.e., disproportionately target and clearcut extremely rare, big-tree old growth. Recent analysis of S. 340 shows that Sealaska is selecting large-tree old growth stands (combined volume class 6/7) at 10 times the rate they occur naturally in the Tongass (30% vs 3.4%).  Even the young-growth (previously logged) forest that Sealaska is also selecting targets the most productive lands.
The Sealaska legislation would high-grade increasingly rare, large-tree old growth and amplify this long-recognized problem. Congress explicitly identified the high-grading concern in 1990 as part of the Tongass Timber Reform Act (TTRA) and enacted an explicit ban on the practice.  An independent scientific peer review of Tongass forest management practices in 1997 further highlighted the interconnected problems of high-grading, forest fragmentation, and loss of habitat connectivity.  In its most recent testimony to Congress on S. 340 the Department of the Interior testified that if the Sealaska legislation is enacted as proposed the United States Fish and Wildlife Service may have to review its previous findings not to list the Queen Charlotte goshawk and the Alexander Archipelago wolf under the Endangered Species Act.
Because Sealaska has already made its final Settlement Act land selections under existing law and has officially filed those selections with the federal Bureau of Land Management, no further action is required by Congress for the corporation to receive its full entitlement.
S. 340 is currently pending in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). We would encourage you to contact the Full Committee and ask for no further action on this bill.
Mr. Cornelius and Mr. Gustafson are former Area Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Habitat Division; with a combined experience of over 32 years reviewing Tongass National Forest, and private Native corporation logging issues.
 Kirchoff, S. 340 Tongass National Forest Comparison, February 2013 (Click Here ) http://www.fileden.com/files/2012/4/8/3289499/S340_TNF_Comparison_Feb2013.xlsx
 H.R. 987: Tongass Timber Reform Act, Section 301(c)(2)
 Powell, et al., “Joint Statement of Members of the Peer Review Committee Concerning the Inadequacy of Conservation Measures for Vertebrate Species in the Tongass National Forest Land Management Plan of Record,” (September 1997).
Received this from Faith Campbell of The Nature Conservancy. This rulemaking could have more impact on our forests than a plethora of thinning projects. Not to speak of invasives meddling with “range of natural variation”.. er.. they’re definitely “natural” but not “historic”ally in the U.S. Here’s her email…
Imports of living plants have historically been one of the most important pathways by which tree-killing insects and pathogens have entered the country. Examples of pests introduced via this pathway include chestnut blight, white pine blister rust, hemlock woolly adelgid, and sudden oak death.
On April 25th, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published a proposed regulation [https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/04/25/2013-09737/restructuring-of-regulations-on-the-importation-of-plants-for-planting] that would restructure its regulations governing imports of plants. Among the several proposed changes is language in proposed Section 319.37-21 that would establish APHIS’ authority and a framework under which plant producers overseas could be required to implement “integrated pest management measures” to ensure that plants shipped to the U.S. would be pest-free. APHIS would require use of such integrated measures when the pest risk associated with those plants could be addressed only through the use of such measures.
While the specifics of any integrated pest management measures program would be developed through negotiations by APHIS with the exporting country, the proposed overall framework would have the following components:
· Production facilities would generate plants from propagative material that is free or nearly free of pests.
· Production facilities would have an approved set of standard operating procedures that include adequate pest control, regular inspection and testing, and detailed recordkeeping of all aspects of plant production, including the origin of plants that will eventually be exported so that they may be traced back if a pest is detected by the importing country.
· The phytosanitary agency of the producing country oversees the production facility and performs regular audits to ensure that all elements of the production system comply with program standards.
· APHIS may perform on-site audits of the production system. APHIS also audits imports to ensure that these plants meet the approved standards for the clean stock program.
· Penalties and remedial action in the case of noncompliance are negotiated by APHIS and the exporting country’s phytosanitary agency.
· APHIS will require plant brokers to keep records facilitating trace-back and follow specified procedures to ensure the continued phytosanitary status of plants under their control.
The deadline for comments is June 24, 2013.
I encourage you to review the proposal and submit comments. Points you might want to make:
The proposal is one of the most important actions APHIS has taken in decades to close down the plants for planting introduction pathway. The combined actions will enable APHIS to act more quickly, even pro-actively, to minimize the risk of pest introductions. The important innovations include:
o Creating the new authority to require foreign plant suppliers to implement integrated measures (as outlined briefly above);
o Integrating the proposed new strategy with the recently finalized NAPPRA strategy, under which APHIS can pre-emptively prohibit the most high-risk plant imports until effective safeguards are adopted;
o Shifting most of the specific provisions out of the regulations and into the Plants for Planting Manual should allow more rapid adaptation to changed pest situations;
o Consolidating regulatory provisions that apply to all or nearly all plant imports will improve the shipping public’s understanding an compliance.
You might also suggest that additional clarity is need re: conditions for “post-entry quarantine”. The provisions in this proposal [Proposed §319.37-23] apparently apply to only a limited number of taxa for which extensive periods in post-entry quarantine are already required. In comments on past components of this rulemaking, some of us have urged expansion of post-entry quarantine to additional taxa in order to further reduce the pest risk from a wider variety of plant and pest taxa. We called at the same time for strengthening conditions of post-entry quarantine in these expanded situations in order to ensure efficacy. Our comments were inspired in part by 2001 episode in which citrus longhorned beetles – a very large insect – escaped from bonsai trees kept in “post-entry quarantine” in a commercial nursery.
Somehow I missed this on Earth Day, but here it is…note what Dan Botkin says about “drowning in information” but “sometimes the most basic information has not been gathered.”
Here’s a link and below are excerpts:
This year we will celebrate Earth Day for the 43rd time. Where have we come in those years in dealing with the environment, and how has Earth’s environment fared? I have been an ecological scientist since 1965, five years before the first Earth day. Many improvements have taken place in how the major nations deal with the environment. People the world over are much more aware of the environment, but ironically, some of the ways people think about it have not changed. There are still major gaps, concerns, confusions, and misunderstandings about ecology and the environment.
On the positive side, today in the United States we have strong environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency was created, and all the federal agencies that deal with land and water have major programs for environmental protection and improvement. Most states too have environmental protection departments under a variety of names. Non-governmental organizations, most of them small and little known in 1970, have grown into billion dollar enterprises, taken seriously by governments.
So why is it that after all this progress we have difficulty solving so many environmental problems? And why is there so much controversy about them? How could something that seems basically a set of scientific questions have been politicized and made into ideologies, to the point that each side in the environmental debates views the other side as immoral and worse? Why can’t we just engineer our planet like we do airplanes, cell phones, televisions, and automobiles? Why can’t the planet run as steadily and smoothly as the spinning blades of a hydroturbine as it produces electricity from one of our major dams?
We have lost touch with nature in a direct, personal sense: many of us are no longer deeply aware of nature, alert with all our senses. Although the word “environment” may be on our lips daily, few of us have the deep connection to nature that moved Cicero two millennia ago. Without that, environmental issues become abstracted, appearing as just another special interest with a backing politician, like Al Gore, telling us what to believe and whom to disapprove of.
Yes, environmental issues are so popular and affect so much of our lives and economy that many spokesmen have come forward. But some of those who claim to know the truth about it have no training or experience about it. They are today’s snake oil salesmen, feeding us phrases that capture our attention on whichever environmental position they champion. As a result, we ignore many of the key issues we should be thinking about. At the moment, we are captured by climate change, our current morality play. Meanwhile, our forests and fisheries suffer from too little attention and care. Invasive species hitch rides on our commercial jets, but we ignore these dangerous traveling companions.
Perversely, although our information about nature has increased greatly, we hold on to the dominant fundamental myth that nature is perfect, fixed, constant, unchanging, except when we tinker with it. Our major laws and policies and even many of our scientific premises assume this constancy. Meanwhile, nature in all its forms—climate, oceans, forests, individual species—has gone on changing, has always changed.
In every environmental issue I have worked on, I have been shocked to discover that although we are drowning in environmental information, some of the most basic and essential information has never been gathered. For instance, the state of Oregon passed a special bill to fund a study of the relative effects of forestry on salmon. I was asked to direct it and quickly discovered that the basic facts we needed in order to answer the question were unknown. Of the 23 rivers we were asked to study, salmon had been counted on only two. The state did not have a map of its forests. Logging permits were given by counties, which did not record the logging methods, area to be cut, or any other information necessary for an ecological assessment. All the blame for the decline in salmon was attributed to human actions though salmon live in perhaps the most changeable series of environments of any animal.
Does this matter? Such mistakes cost big money and lead to endless political and ideological debates without solving problems. As the leader of an environmental group in Oregon told me, “When the government said they could manage salmon, we thought that meant we could manage to have salmon.”
Unless we deepen our personal connection with nature, unless we get away from the folktales that dominate our beliefs about nature, unless we get involved and monitor what is around us, we will continue to see each environmental issue as just another political special interest and not know how to judge what is said, nor care deeply about it.
Wise words from Dan.. IMHO.
The bottom line: contact nature, think about it, feel it; seek facts, not slogans; understand science’s methods, not the catchphrases of its pseudo-spokespersons.
Yesterday’s discussion was interesting, and I think we need to carry it forward. But my first thought was that I was proposing a solution to what many perceive to be a problem. It occurs to me that we may need to back up to understand how people think about whether there is a problem or not.
IF cutting trees and selling them can be done in a sustainable way (as environmental folks seem to think about FSC) (I know there is controversy about SFI vs. FSC, and I also don’t like the idea of public forests being managed to standards developed by third parties, still, the reason I brought it up is that it says that environmental groups think timber harvesting is OK in specific places, with specific practices).
I think it’s well worth a read of the Pinchot Institute’s National Forest Certification study Executive Summary here. If you have more time, you might be interested in the other documents.
This is from the Executive Summary of the Pinchot Institute study about forest certification:
This represented an important breakthrough in the contentious arena of forest conservation.
No longer were forest industry and environmental activists simply locked in a legal and policy stalemate over whether timber harvesting could take place, but how it could take place while ensuring that it is ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible. These developments also held out the promise of calming some of the public controversy around forest management, by providing citizens with credible assurances that the forests in question were not being overexploited, and adequate protection was being provided for forest areas of exceptional importance for conservation values such as biodiversity, wildlife habitat or water quality
During the time period I was reviewing this study I always considered this to be MBWT “or management by wishful thinking”, but it is asserted in the study (also the Executive Summary):
This report describes the results of independent audits of five units of the National Forest System ranging from 500,000 to 1.5 million acres in size. This case study is the culmination of what has become a ten-year research project that ultimately involved forest certification audits on state forestlands in seven states, 30 areas of Native American tribal forestlands, and one national park. It should be noted that, in each case, the independent audits identified needs for corrective
actions, and in each case these were successfully addressed by the agencies’ forest managers. A general conclusion among the agencies themselves is that the reduction in costs associated with public controversy and legal challenges—not only on agency budgets but on the spirit and morale of their forest managers—more than offset the time and expense associated with the certification process.
So here were a couple of my concerns:
1) FSC practices are (were) all over the map. It would be better to certify to publicly developed practices (the equivalent of the broad labor union contract in conflict resolution?). But environmental groups are attached to FSC; we could have the public develop the practices and have third party audits, but then it wouldn’t be “FSC”. With all the technical and scientific folks in NFS and R&D and all the folks with practitioner knowledge, the State wildlife folks, etc. it just seems like you could do a better job with standards than FSC did.
2) It would be better for the FS to have a broader third party audits in terms of its management (beyond vegetation management, the whole enchilada, recreation, grazing, oil and gas, ski areas) (not so sure I still think that).
Now, some may think that everything is fine now. But I would ask everyone to “listen with the ears of the heart” as per Benedict of Nursia to a previous comment on this blog here by Rob DeHarport, where I think he articulated “the problem” clearly:
In my humble opinion the problem is two-fold. The first part is the utter failure of President Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP). Of the five stated priorities or goals in the NWFP, none have been fulfilled. Lawsuits and the potential of lawsuits on virtually every timber sale in the NW have resulted in the “Gordian Knot” that former USFS Chief Jack Ward Thomas has referred to in his assessment of the failed NWFP of which he was a key player. The state of Oregon, timber dependent counties, cities and schools continue to struggle to replace lost revenues that occurred soon after the Northwest Spotted Owl (NWSO) was listed as an endangered species.Neither the NWSO or local and state economies have been able to replace lost revenues despite the best efforts.
However, budgets have tightened, increased taxes are not likely in already poor counties. Curry County is virtually bankrupt. Lane County can not afford to hold violent criminals in jail, etc. etc. Meanwhile, the Federal government Rural School Funds have dried up as the nation continues to print and borrow money at a record and unsustainable pace. The NWFP was supposed to find a “middle ground,” it did not happen. Yet, here we are nearly 20 years later living with a failed plan. Governor Kitzhaber created another committee of stake-holders to find a solution with little or no success.
Mac McConnell’s statement is true. In US House District 4 there are nearly 5 million acres of National Forest. Since the NWFP logging has been scaled back far below what the NWFP called for due to continued protests. The logging that is occurring on these lands will essentially create a 5 million acre spotted owl reserve. As the thinning projects leave trees that are less than 80 years old to grow to age 80 and older- thus becoming “Old Growth Spotted Owl Habitat.”
I live in the Oakridge area of the Willamette National Forest, I have walked with USFS staff through a couple of thinning timber sales as I mentioned in the previous paragraph. These sales take years of planning and navigation through the “Gordian Knot.” There is also the excellent Jim’s Creek Oak Savanna Restoration Project near my home that has been stymied at a little more than 400 acres due to the very real risk of litigation or the lack of commitment by USFS upper management to allow such good sound forestry.
Here are two paragraphs from Wikipedia concerning the Elliott State Forest:
Controversy arose in 2011 in response to changes in the way the forest is managed. Adopted by the land board in October 2011, a new management plan aims to increase annual net revenue from the forest to $13 million, up from $8 million. It would achieve this by increasing the annual timber harvest to 40 million board feet culled from 1,100 acres (450 ha), of which about three-fourths could be clearcut. The former management plan, adopted in 1995, called for 25 million board feet from 1,000 acres (400 ha), half of it clearcut.
The plan also changed the way in which the forest is managed to protect threatened and endangered species such as spotted owls, marbled murrelets, and Coho salmon. Supporters of the new plan say it will benefit wildlife by making more acres off-limits to logging than had been reserved for owls, murrelets, and watershed protection under the old plan. Opponents of the plan say it will damage habitat and harm wildlife. They would prefer a plan that promotes thinning of young trees, avoids clear-cutting, and seeks other ways of raising revenue from the CSF lands.
In July 2012 despite the great recession the US imported $216 million dollars of softwood lumber from Canada. (according to the Sept. 17, Globe and Mail) Meanwhile rural Oregon timber counties have a unemployment rate that is actually over 20%, and our forest continue to be passively managed at best.
I am the Mayor of the small community of Westfir and serve on the Oakridge, Oregon School Board. I know first hand how failed policy has impacted rural Oregon timber towns and counties. There is a middle ground, we have not come close to finding that sweet spot in managing our forests.
I’d be interested in hearing
If you don’t think that there is a problem, and why..
What you think about whether certification alone would solve “the problem” in your opinion.
Apparently some in the environmental community doesn’t want NFS to do certification, I’d be interested in their rationale, if anyone knows.