Volunteering for SAF gives me many opportunities for insight and opportunities to compare private and public forests, and regions of the country.
Recently, SAF signed on to an effort to get funding for FIA- forest inventory and analysis- which collects information about forests across the US. A couple of times I served on two “Blue Ribbon Panel” of users of the information who (excerpted from this):
The American Forest and Paper Association has organized two Blue Ribbon Panels (1991 and 1997) to review the national FIA program and provide recommendations to the Forest Service on needed changes to the content and capabilities of the program. The most recent panel recommended that the Forest Service should 1) elevate the priority of FIA in the Forest Service program, 2) convert the FIA program from a periodic inventory to an annual inventory, 3) fulfill the congressional mandate of reporting on all lands regardless of ownership, 4) concentrate on the core ecological and timber data, and 5) develop a strategic plan to implement the full FIA program.
FIA also has regular meetings with user groups to help guide their activities and generate support.
It seems to me that we are missing a group (Coalition) that can reach across different interest groups and ask for information that we might agree that we all need about National Forests. We don’t have an AF&PA to speak for us and get things started, so perhaps we have to organize ourselves.
We could ask the Chief to convene a panel of citizens representing different groups to ask 1) what information is important to be collected in a standard format across forests and regions? and 2) how best do we make that accessible to the public? For example, PALS has searches that internal folks can do but not external.. should it remain that way?
Stakeholders outside of the FS could lobby strongly for this information the same way that they lobby for FIA.
Some topics we’ve mentioned here are budgets and outputs, costs of environmental document developments, number of acres treated, etc., as in the “vegetation management” thread here and here. it seems to me that we could take advantage of having an Administration who promotes transparency to set such a framework of an advisory committee.
At first, I was thinking volunteers could find and enter the data, but then I thought “if the public wants this information, why doesn’t the agency just provide it?”. I’m sure that the agency could save some bucks by stopping collecting information on a variety of things that someone used to be interested in, and focus on things the public is currently interested in. The public could actually help the Forest Service prioritize information across silos, something that is problematic internally.
But we can’t ask poor Region 1 to do more work on their own.. when these are national forests, and data should be captured and made available consistently across regions. Besides, they appear to already be doing more work than some other regions, based on the GAO reports and Derek’s observations.
What do you think?
One more post before I leave..also if you sent me something to post and I forgot, please email email@example.com and I will get to it after my Solstice break.
Forest Service Failing to Create Jobs, Stimulate Economy in Forest Management Practices
Crystal Feldman House Natural Resources Committee
During the height of this year’s record-breaking fire season, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a legislative hearing on bills to address forest health and reduce the risk of catastrophic forest fire. Following a Forest Service report on the need for restoration on 65-82 million acres of National Forest land, the Forest Service testified that it had restored 3.7 million acres in 2011. Restoration is the process of assisting recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. Following the hearing, we submitted a series of questions to get further detail on what methods the agency used to “restore” these lands.
In its response, the Forest Service explained that of those 3.7 million acres, over 1.4 million – nearly 40% of the total – were “restored” through a combination of prescribed fire (fire intentionally set and monitored by the agency) and wildland-use fire (fire allowed to burn to achieve resource objectives). Meanwhile, commercial harvest was only allowed on 195,477 acres – 5% of the total work for 2011 and only .1% of the 193 million acres managed by the Forest Service.
The .1 % seems to answer one of Derek’s questions. in the People’s Database.but does it agree with the below? It would be nice to see a table that shows prescribed fire, fire use, non-commercial and commercial thinnings and mechanical treatments by acre (like how many acres were touched by different treatments in a given year). Of course, if it’s a service contract, wood might still go to mills, not sure how that is considered in the numbers either..
x acres commercial harvest fuels reduction thinning followed by prescribed burning
y acres commercial harvest fuels reduction thinning alone
z acres prescribed burning only forest in WUI
a acres prescribed burning only grasslands and shrublands
b acres prescribed burning only forest outside WUI
c acres fuels reduction could have gone to mill but we don’t know for sure
Also A little birdie told me that some of the figures in the report below are not accurate.
U.S. Forest Service Program Reports Welcome Christmas News
Third Year of Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program Reveals Big Benefits for People, Water, and Wildlife
Arlington, Virginia | December 19, 2012
An annual report was released today on the performance of a U.S. Forest Service program, called Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR), revealing impressive returns for forests, jobs, water, and wildlife. The three-year old program invested $40 million in forest restoration at 23 forested landscapes across the country in 2012.
As identified in the report, the 23 landscapes cumulatively provided the following 2012 results:
• Created and maintained 4,574 full- and part-time jobs;
• Generated nearly $320 million in labor income;
• Reduced the risk of megafire on 612,000 acres;
• Enhanced clean water supplies by remediating 6,000 miles of eroding roads;
• Sold 95.1 million cubic feet of timber;
• Improved 537,000 acres of wildlife habitat;
• Restored nearly 400 miles of fish habitat.
In addition to these on-the-ground results, CFLR also highlighted the opportunity to leverage matching investments in forest restoration. All told, CFLR leveraged an additional $45.4 million dollars towards collaborative actions in 2012.
Beyond the beauty they offer, forests are critical to life and livelihood across the nation. Americans forests cover one-third of the United States; store and filter half the nation’s water supply; provide jobs to more than a million wood products workers; absorb nearly 20% of U.S. carbon emissions; offer 650 million acres of recreational lands that generate well over $13 billion a year in economic activity; and provide habitat for thousands of species across the country.
Observers say the program is bucking the larger downward funding trend because restoration of National Forests is the new ‘zone of agreement’ where traditional adversaries in the timber industry, conservation, and local county governments are working to advance common goals. .
The collaborative results of the report were heralded by companies, community groups, and conservation organizations around the nation.
“The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program is bringing communities from around the country together to create jobs, to restore forest and watershed health, and to reduce the costs of wildfire suppression at impressive scales,” offered Laura McCarthy of The Nature Conservancy. “The program and its many supporters are charting a successful path forward for National Forest management.”
“This is an outstanding program because it simultaneously helps forests, water, and jobs,” said Kelsey Delaney of the Society of American Foresters.
“Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects are cost efficient, mostly because of their long time frame and larger scale,” added Scott Brennan of The Wilderness Society. “Selected projects are assured funding as long as appropriations are available until 2019, which provided certainty for businesses their banks and other investors, time for workers to be trained and become skilled, and for product markets to be developed and expanded.”
“Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration has shown that the critical importance of healthy and thriving forests can be a unifying force,” said Rebecca Turner of American Forests. “Our organization is proud to be collaborating with such a diverse collective of partners on a program that received bipartisan support from Congress to improve the health of our forests, as well as creating needed jobs.”
Dylan Kruse of Sustainable Northwest said, “Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration is about boots on the ground, creating jobs in rural communities. Now is the time to invest in rural communities and restore the health of our National Forests. CFLR does exactly that.”
CFLR is particularly valuable now, on the heels of the nation recording its third-largest wildfire year. A century of suppressing natural wildfires has resulted in unhealthy forests choked with small trees and brush that can lead to destructive megafires. Over the last 50 years the United States has had only 6 years with more than 8 million acres burned— all have occurred in the last 8 years (including 2012).
The conditions of our forests are further enflamed by pest and diseases, as well as climate change. All told, The Nature Conservancy estimates 120 million acres of America’s forests – an area bigger than the state of California – are in immediate need of restoration due to this “perfect storm” of threats.
The 23 sites to receive investment in 2012 were:
• Ozark Highlands Ecosystem Restoration, Arkansas, $959,000
• Shortleaf-Bluestem Community Project, Arkansas and Oklahoma, $342,000
• Four Forest Restoration Initiative, Arizona, $2 million
• Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group Cornerstone Project, California, $730,000
• Burney-Hat Creek Basins Project, California, $605,000
• Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project, California, $829,900
• Front Range Landscape Restoration Initiative, Colorado, $1 million
• Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado, $446,000
• Accelerating Longleaf Pine Restoration, Florida, $1.17 million
• Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, Idaho, $324,000
• Selway-Middle Fork Clearwater, Idaho, $1 million
• Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Project, Idaho, $2.45 million
• Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration and Hazardous Fuels Reduction, Mississippi, $2.71 million
• Pine-Oak Woodlands Restoration Project, Missouri, $617,000
• Southwestern Crown of the Continent, Montana, $1.03 million
• Southwest Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, $392,000
• Zuni Mountain Project, New Mexico, $400,000
• Grandfather Restoration Project, North Carolina, $605,000
• Deschutes Collaborative Forest, Oregon, $500,000
• Lakeview Stewardship Project, Oregon, $3.5 million
• Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, Oregon, $2.5 million
• Northeast Washington Forest Vision 2020, Washington, $968,000
• Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, Washington, $1.63 million
The CFLR annual report was produced by the CFLR Coalition, which is comprised of 145 member organizations that include private businesses, communities, counties, tribes, water suppliers, associations, and non-governmental organizations.
Copies of the 2012 CFLRP Annual Report can be requested from Jon Schwedler of the CFLR Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information on CFLRP can be found at the U.S. Forest Service’s website: http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLR/
Given our recent discussions of the People’s Database, CREATE, and federal regulation development procedures, I thought reminding all of the below document would be good. It’s the beginning of the second term. What could we achieve if we put our citizen and agency energies to it? I italicized where it appears that the President called for a People’s Database!
Here’s the link.
Transparency and Open Government
Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.
Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.
Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperateamong themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.
I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.
From Wikipedia here. Don’t know if the acreages are correct, but I’m sure blog readers will find something of interest.
Following our discussion of forest budget figures, I remembered a forest (the White River) which produced an annual report with budget figures. So here it is from 2010. It is on page 9 of the annual report.
I extracted it from the annual report and converted to a jpg for the image above.
Here is the pdf of the extracted page.
What do you think of the amount of information and the way it’s portrayed? Would you like to see more or less? Or a different format?
Here is a link to the complete White River 2010 Report.