Forest plan under review - NW Forest Plan didn't work; new plan to be put forward
but a fix is on the way, the Siskiyou County Supervisors were told by Klamath National Forest officials on Tuesday.
KNF Director Peg Boland and Assistant Director Mike Lee provided the supervisors with an update on the process they hope will better enable the U.S. Forest Services to manage its federal lands.
Lee said the 10-year-old Northwest Forest Plan underwent an extensive review the week of June 24-17. An action plan of changes is scheduled to be finalized in a few weeks. It will be presented to the president and congress for possible adoption.
The Klamath, Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity, and Six Rivers National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region Northern Province participated in the review held in Redding, meeting with the plan's authors Jack Ward Thomas and Jack Blackwell.
"We have been so careful and so certain we would not cause damage to the environment that simply it overwhelmed the promises to people," Ward Thomas said. "We need to face up to the fact that we've been overcome by this event."
Simply stated, most of those events have been in the form of litigation from environmental protection groups.
"The Northwest Forest Plan was a good document as presented," Lee said. "But congress attached a 'Survey and Manage' rider to it that frustrated the intent of the plan."
Lee said the intent of the review in June was to identify areas in which the U.S. Forest Service can "improve its management to more closely accomplish the ecological outcomes and social outputs envisioned when the Northwest Forest Plan was adopted in 1994 and identify ways to accomplish the National Fire Plan goals to protect communities, watersheds, and wildlife habitats."
"It is nice the U.S. Forest Service has acknowledged that the Northwest Forest Plan is a mess," Supervisor Bill Hoy said. "It was originally designed to protect the economics of the communities. Do they realize the human suffering this has caused our communities?"
Hoy said families have been disrupted because of the political mess along with the loss of a way of life and traditions of generations who worked in the mills and the woods. He said Siskiyou County used to have 27 sawmills and now has none. Along with that loss is the absence of people in the woods with heavy equipment who were the front line of wildfire defense.
"That protection has been removed and it has created a condition where Tulelake, Dorris, and Montague will be the only communities standing in Siskiyou County."
Clarifying that he was addressing the agencies and not the people who worked in them, Hoy said, "We have been forced to endure policies that have ruined people's lives and then you have a five day conference and admit that your plan does not work. It is too little too late."
Both Lee and Boland said they shared some of the frustration expressed by Hoy.
"Most of our harvesting in the Klamath National Forest has been on the east side due to lawsuits," Boland said. "That side has very few fish bearing streams and the major lawsuits that have slowed things down have been primarily on fishery issues."
Supervisor Joan Smith said she has been involved in this issue for years. On the positive side, she said that all parties came together to communicate.
"When we actually got everyone on the ground to look at the situation we could decide what was best," she said.
Smith said she is excited that the Adaptive Management Area is getting looked at again in the review.
"Survey and manage is the worst thing that came out of the Northwest Forest Plan," Smith said. "It was an afterthought, I believed designed to stop the plan. If you get the survey and manage under control this plan will be much more successful."
The following was presented to the supervisors as the facts and findings from the Northwest Forest Plan review:
Only 8 to 10 percent of the designated matrix land is being managed for commodity production;
LSRs are not being managed to promote habitat;
AMAs have not met stated objectives and vision of the plan;
Survey and Manage has made implementation of the plan difficult;
The plan is not meeting cultural needs;
Cost of implementing the plan is too high, driven up by appeals, litigation, and consultation concerning NEPA and Survey and Manage;
The checkerboard ownership of federal and private lands often offsets the cumulative watershed effects from private lands. - By John Diehm
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