Could You Participate in Gallatin Collaborative’s 3 Day, 27 Hour Workshop on Thurs, Fri, Sat?

We’ve had many discussions and debates on this blog over the past few years about the roll of collaboration in federal public lands policy and management. For example, last week we shared an opinion piece from the Swan View Coalition (Montana) offering up that organization’s perspective on how some of the collaborative processes in their neck of the woods are playing out.  Keith Hammer wrote:

Swan View Coalition will always follow the legally required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public involvement process and will participate in optional collaborative processes as time and funds allow. We appreciate both as avenues to better understand all interests and issues.

For my money, one of the more interesting dynamics of all this “collaboration” springing up regarding public lands management is the tremendous amount of time, resources and funding needed for an individual, organization or private business to fully participate in the plethora of optional collaborative processes.  Off the top of my head I can think of at least 10 different optional collaborative processes taking place across the state of Montana (Size: 147,164 sq miles) that deal directly with US Forest Service management.

Complicating the issue – at least here in Montana – is the fact that some of those able to participate in the more controversial optional collaborative processes in Montana aggressively and endlessly take to the media to publicly criticize those individuals and groups that lack the time, resources and funding to participate in these optional collaborative processes.  Of course, ironically some of these collaborators don’t actually fully participate in the legally required NEPA public involvement process.  Unfortunately such facts don’t stop some of these folks from intentionally confusing the public by making it seem that those who fully participate in the legally required NEPA public involvement process aren’t participating in any public process.

In March of 2012 I shared a new, extensive report from Caitlin Burke, Ph.D., with the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, who wanted to know about the factors that affect state and local environmental groups’ participation in collaboration, and how that affects representation, diversity, and inclusion in collaborative processes.

Burke set out by collecting data from eleven western states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming), conducting a survey of 101 environmental groups that addressed forest-related issues and operated in the study area.  The survey gathered information about the organizations and their attitudes and behaviors toward collaboration to test relationships between organizational characteristics and strategy choice.  Here’s what Burke found:

“The results show that large, more professionalized organizations and those with multiple values use a collaborating strategy; small, less professionalized organizations and those with a single environmental value use a confronting strategy. In other words, collaboration is not representative of all environmental groups – smaller groups and more ideological groups are not involved. This research serves as a caution to those who would use, or advocate the use of, collaboration – its use must be carefully considered and its process carefully designed to ensure the most balanced representation possible.”

“If smaller, more ideological environmental groups are not involved in collaborative decision-making, then collaboration is not representative of all affected interests and collaborative decisions do not reflect the concerns of all stakeholders.”

Now, while Burke’s research was limited to environmental groups that addressed forest-related issues, it’s not a stretch to assume that these same time, resource and money constraints impact the ability of other individuals, smaller organizations of all kinds and private businesses to fully participate in these numerous, optional collaborative processes. For example, while it’s likely that a timber mill with 150 employees could afford to send a representative to an all day, mid-week optional collaborative meeting, it’s less likely that a logging contractor with 5 employees could afford the same luxury for an optional process.  The same goes for a working family with kids, or a college student with 18 credits and a part time job.

So, the reality is that most of the time these optional collaborative processes are made up almost entirely of paid Forest Service staff, paid environmentalists from well-funded, politically-connected organizations, paid logging industry representatives (who also happen to be very politically connected) and retirees (which often times, based on observations, are recently retired from the Forest Service or the logging industry).

So, if that’s the case, as Dr. Burke pointed out, such forms of “collaboration [are] not representative of all affected interests and collaborative decisions do not reflect the concerns of all stakeholders.”  I’d even go a step further and question how such a dynamic and make-up in some of these “collaborations” is really much different from the concept of the “King’s Forest” that existed throughout much of Europe at one time, and which was subsequently entirely rejected by early Americans going back to the late 1700s.

What got me re-thinking about these dynamics this morning was the following announcement from the “Gallatin Community Collaborative,” which was established in May of 2012 around management issues in the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area on the Gallatin National Forest, Montana.

The announcement raises a number of questions.  Would you be able to participate in 27 hours worth of optional collaborative process meetings over 3 straight days (including 9 hours on Thursday and 9 hours on Friday)?  How about other working people, or college students, who aren’t paid to sit around the table?  And if you can’t manage to set aside 18 hours over two entire mid-week days and 9 hours on a Saturday to travel to Bozeman, MT to participate in an optional collaborative process in an attempt to come to some agreements on how to manage a Wilderness Study Area that equally belongs to all Americans, how would you feel if some of those paid to be at the table publicly criticize the inability of others to participate in such a laborious optional collaborative process?

As more and more optional collaborative processes spring up around the country concerning the management of America’s federal public lands hopefully others will rise up and ask similar questions.

Dear friends interested in the Gallatin Collaborative:

First, to those of you who participated in the initial workshops for the Gallatin Community Collaborative (GCC) earlier in October, thank you for the time and energy that you invested in those workshops.

In those five community workshops, held in Big Sky, Bozeman, Livingston, and Emigrant, participants respectfully listened to each other to develop an initial list of unresolved issues, identified concerns, began the development of a common vision, and began exploring steps to accomplish that vision. During the next several months, we will work together toward successfully resolving many of those issues. A report will be forthcoming from these first workshops and will be posted mid-November on the GCC website.

We have a few things to share coming out of that October workshop:

NOVEMBER WORKSHOP: As our next step, the Collaborative will undertake a three-day workshop, bringing the interested parties from the various communities together, to begin resolving issues related to community empowerment and begin building community capacity to resolve the numerous issues identified in the first workshops. The dates and locations of this workshop are:

Nov. 21 (Thursday), 8am – 5pm in Bozeman at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, Bldg. 4*

Nov. 22 (Friday), 8am – 5pm in Bozeman at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, Bldg. 4

Nov. 23 (Saturday), 8am – 5pm in Bozeman at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, Bldg. 4

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided each day of the workshop.

The workshop is designed as a 3-day workshop, in which participants would ideally come for the full three days. We recognize that this is a significant time commitment for participants, and we hope that participants are able to be present for the full period of time. This is a complex issue and very important to the wider community. Many of you have already spent substantial time over numerous years. It requires a different approach to successfully resolve. Two hours here, four hours there… hasn’t been sufficient in the past. People will need to decide what works best for them in terms of participation. We hope you will give as much time as you can to this workshop; we’d like to make sure we invest the time to get this issue resolved successfully.

While participating for all three days is important, we understand that may not be feasible for everyone. You will be welcome at whatever sessions you can attend, but you may need to rely on other participants to bring you along and update you on what you may have missed.

Since we want to ensure as much opportunity as possible to provide your input into the process and to build on what we learned from the October workshops, we will provide another chance to engage for those of you who cannot attend the three-day workshop, bringing the Collaborative discussion into more Gallatin Range communities: we are adding a few evening meetings earlier in the week. These meetings will take place at the following locations and times:

Nov. 18 (Monday) from 6-9pm in West Yellowstone at the Holiday Inn (315 Yellowstone Ave.)

Nov. 19 (Tuesday) from 6-9pm in Gardiner at the Best Western Plus (905 Scott St. W.)

Nov. 20 (Wednesday) from 6-9pm in Livingston at the Best Western Yellowstone Inn (1515 W. Park St.)

Refreshments will not be provided at these meetings; please bring what you need to be comfortable.

If you plan to participate in the workshop or evening meetings, please register using this link on the Gallatin Collaborative website.

We will have a second three-day workshop in January or February, addressing issues around the themes of change and/or scarcity, depending on what we learn in November. We will be able to announce those dates at the November workshops.

ROLE OF THE US FOREST SERVICE: A number of you asked questions about the role of the US Forest Service in the Collaborative process, given that the government shutdown was underway during the October workshops. The Forest Service will be participating in the November workshop and is looking forward to getting back on track with this group. For more on the Gallatin NF’s role in this process, see the Collaborative website.

SUPPORTING THE GCC: Finally, a foundation supporting the work of the Collaborative has provided a “challenge grant,” offering to match dollar-for-dollar each dollar raised from local individuals and organizations by the end of 2013, up to a total of $7,000. This support will help the Collaborative by providing needed funds for meeting space, meals and refreshments, and other costs. We still have $4,000 to go to achieve this match, so if you’re interested in helping to support the Collaborative, please send a check to our fiscal sponsor: Park County Community Foundation, PO Box 2199; Livingston, MT 59047 and please note “GCC” in the memo line of your check. Thanks so much for your support.

Thank you again for your time and interest in this important process,

Jeff Goebel, Facilitator
For the Exploratory Committee of the Gallatin Collaborative

UPDATE: The following information was just sent to me from Travis Stills….thanks Travis.

From: Federal Advisory Committees: An Overview, Wendy R. Ginsberg, Analyst in American National Government, April 16, 2009, Congressional Research Service,  7-5700, www.crs.gov, R40520

According to GSA’s FACA Database, in 2008, the federal government spent more than $344 million on FACA committees — including operation of advisory bodies, compensation of members and staff, and reimbursement of travel and per diem expenses. According to GSA, $39.8 million was spent on committee member pay (both federal and non-federal members) and $166.2 million was spent on staff. An additional $14 million was spent on consultants to FACA committees.

UPDATE 2:  Another 3 days worth of meetings, covering 24 hours, was just announced by the Gallatin Collaborative.  I hear Bozeman, MT is really easy (and cheap) to drive into or fly into during January.

Dear Friends,

On behalf of Jeff Goebel, the GCC Exploratory Committee wants to sincerely honor and thank you for your hard work and participation in the recent 3-day workshop at the County Fairgrounds.

It was a powerful and insightful time together. As you all know, this is a marathon not a sprint, but significant progress is being made. The issues we covered and questions answered are not what many of us expected, but they are equally as important as any of the traditional on-the-ground concerns. We are off to a great start.

The entire group of October Collective Statements, along with updated FAQs and materials from the November workshop,  will be posted on the GCC website at www.gallatincollaborative.org before the next scheduled sessions beginning January 9.  Below are the details on the January GCC workshop. Please forward this to anyone interested in the process, and encourage them to attend any or all of these meetings.

The purposes of the January meetings will be to explore the change that is desired for the communities surrounding the Gallatin Range, design the operating structure of the Gallatin Community Collaborative, and develop new and more effective ways of valuing the people involved in the region.

Thursday, January 9 – 1:00pm to 9:00pm

Friday, January 10 – 1:00pm to 9:00pm

Saturday, January 11 – 9:00am to 5:00pm

Best Western
1515 W Park St

Livingston, MT

Food and refreshments will be served.
RSVP at www.gallatincollaborative.org

If any of you are interested or planning on practicing the consensus building skills Jeff has been sharing with our community and you are looking for support or have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Exploratory Committee at info@gallatincollaborative.org. Be sure to include this email in your Contact list to avoid it getting sent to the junk folder.

May you all have an enjoyable and safe Holiday season and we look forward to working with you all again soon.

With Respect & Gratitude,

Jeff Goebel

27 Comments

  1. Matthew, thanks for the thoughtful post. You raise some excellent points. But would it not be possible for most people to attend part of the three-day workshop? Even if an individual or small group could spend just two hours at the workshop, surely they’d have a chance to express their concerns. I’ve done so myself. There’s no way I would be willing and able to attend a three-day event, and even a one-day workshop would be difficult.

    • Hello Steve: Regarding your question “would it not be possible for most people to attend part of the three-day workshop?” ….I think it’s tough to say.

      For starters, who are “most people?” Are they only people who live around Bozeman, MT? Only Montanans? Lot’s of Americans have an interest in how the Forest Service manages Wilderness Study Areas and roadless lands. How do they participate in these optional collaborative processes taking place over 3 days and 27 hours?

      Sure, for some people it may be possible to attend for 2 hours on 1 day of a 3-day, 27 hour workshop. But I would ask, really for what purpose and for what total impact?

      If a person attending for 2 hours, out of total of 27 hours of the scheduled optional collaboration, really had any type of an impact why would the meeting not just be 2 hours? Would anyone really assume that over the course of the remaining 25 hours that their views/concerns would carry forward?

      For example, for me to attend even 2 hours of this 27 hour optional collaborative workshop would require 6 1/2 hours behind the wheel putting 400 miles on my personal vehicle driving potentially hazardous winter roads over a few mountain passes. For you or Janine to attend would require spending hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket, as well as spending the better part of a day in airport-land. Honestly, how is that worth it to spend 2 hours at an optional 27 hour collaborative process? And don’t forget it looks like in January or February (ie Dead of Winter) there will be another 27 hour, 3-day optional collaborative process. That’s a total of 54 hours over 6 days in just a few months to participate in an optional collaborative process. Sure, if you are paid to be at the table and paid/reimbursed for your travel time those might be “gravy” days…but for the vast majority of Americans that type of participation in an optional process is entirely impossible. I’d say the same thing even if your zip-code happens to be Bozeman, MT.

      • Sure, even locals would be hard pressed to spend 3 days in a workshop, but the announcement says “we will provide another chance to engage for those of you who cannot attend the three-day workshop” and lists three three-hour sessions at three locations.

        My point is that you have to do what you can.

  2. This is what you get when every word in every published document is parsed and litigated. Land conservation and protections are being lost to fire while the “process” is bandied about forever and forever. The whole of the law and decisions are based, not on conservation and science, but on procedure and process. Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Let it all burn, and then celebrate the carbon sequestration from new growth. And, do tell us what the “net” is, if only because the carbon will be lost to the atmosphere again, by fire. A cycle, as it were. Ice Age and inter Glacial periods. Too big to take up my time to worry about.

  3. Hello: I was asked to share the following comment from someone who wishes to remain anonymous and had a hard time figuring our how to comment on this blog.

    Thanks for writing this and sending it out Matthew. I have been attending these miserable meetings as the skunk in the room reminding those in attendance these WSAs belong to all Americans and the entire WSA should be made wilderness. The usual suspects are there as you described. They are more than willing to slice and dice the WSA; accept a crumb and turn the rest over to ATVs and mtn. bikers. Greater Yellowstone Coalition is the main advocate at the Livingston meetings – yes the “environmental” group advocating for disemboweling the WSA.

    The other thing I have noted is at every single meeting they ask for money! They claim they received a challenge grant and in order to get the funds they have to raise the same amount of money. So now we are expected to PAY to collaborate. I despise these meetings but think it’s important for some of us to show up and speak the truth. I have signed up for this 3-day workshop and have no intention of staying all day long. I’ll go for a few hours each day on my terms to remind them these are federal lands not MT lands. If this process goes anywhere it will end up in court – no question about it. It was already in court and we won they lost but they are trying yet again.

    Your primer would make a great court exhibit. Maybe it is idealistic but perhaps if we could get as many people out as they do saying NO, these collaboratives would stop. But as you say time is a significant issue – one that will no doubt show up in court documents. I am also asking people outside of MT to write letters saying it is impossible for them to attend these meetings but their voice is equally important.

  4. Matt, this is probably the truest thing you’ve ever written:

    “Now, while Burke’s research was limited to environmental groups that addressed forest-related issues, it’s not a stretch to assume that these same time, resource and money constraints impact the ability of other individuals, smaller organizations of all kinds and private businesses to fully participate in these numerous, optional collaborative processes. For example, while it’s likely that a timber mill with 150 employees could afford to send a representative to an all day, mid-week optional collaborative meeting, it’s less likely that a logging contractor with 5 employees could afford the same luxury for an optional process. The same goes for a working family with kids, or a college student with 18 credits and a part time job.”

    What about members of the public who just want well-managed, accessible forests that don’t cost billions to burn down? You won’t see them. It makes no sense for them to participate.

    If you had the funding and time, you or a representative would be there. Even so, when the entire process has to breach the wall of litigation Congress builteth, even funded, compensated participation is not strictly rational in an economic sense. Since I walked away from PFUSA, I’ve never been paid an effing dime to participate in any Forest Service process. I do it because I, um, must be, er, nuts.

  5. Thanks Matthew, for helping to highlight Caitlin Burke’s important research. The public needs to be more aware on this matter including the agency’s collaboration meme championed through Congress’ ongoing corporatization of the USFS. (What better example of this meme scheme than the National Forest Foundation?)

    Though absent from GCC’s (apparently hidden) donor list, I’ll bet my tax dollars NFF is in the middle of this little workshop. And that’s a safe bet, since all Americans are already helping fund this matching grant scam providing detailed instructions on establishing the outcome of collaboration.

    (Always delighting in the backstory), the bigger picture of collaboration is even moore interesting.

    The NFF board of directors is well positioned as proxies for the neoliberal vultures (previously visited upon South America and elsewhere) and now soaring home to roost in their Homeland to pick the bones of the disenfranchised, debt-ridden public and their bankrupt municipalities. (It is no coincidence that on the international level, the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and other recipients of Moore Foundation funding have been at the center of facilitating “Debt for Nature swaps” in South America and elsewhere.)

    Gordon and Betty Moore of course, got their billions from Intel Corporation so understanding who is on the board of directors of the National Forest Foundation (made up of corporate “partners”) helps to connect the means of collaboration with their ends which run the gamut from greenwashed product placement, to Smokey selling Subarus, to training locals how to approve large-scale privatization of public lands.

    So it comes as no surprise Craig R. Barrett Vice Chairman of the NFF is former Chairman of the Board of Intel Corporation.

    Remember the scandal of Subaru’s “Forester” and Smokey? Alaska’s sole representative even got in on that act:

    “(As)the chairman of the House Resources Committee, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, held an oversight hearing to chastise officials of the U.S. Forest Service for an agreement with Subaru and the National Forest Foundation that turned the revered Smokey into a car salesman.” http://newsok.com/congress-puts-brakes-on-car-ad-deal-thats-too-much-to-bear/article/2614695

    Just imagine what other interests are served in this list of the rest of the NFF board:

    Brad Johnson served for eight years as chief administrative officer and chief financial officer of REI,

    Tim Schieffelin is an advisor to Source Capital Group, Inc and to JSBO Realty & Capital, Inc (and) was a Senior Vice President with Bank of America’s Private Bank.

    Mr. Foreman has been involved in investment management for 39 years

    Mike Brown, Jr. is a Founder and General Partner at AOL Ventures, the venture capital and R&D arm of AOL

    Coleman Burke is the founder and Managing Partner of Waterfront Properties

    Blaise Carrig is President – Mountain Division of Vail Resorts

    Caroline Choi is Vice President, Regulatory and Environmental Policy for Southern California Edison
    Bart Eberwein, Executive Vice President, Hoffman Construction Company &

    Barry K. Fingerhut has been the Chief Executive Officer and majority equity owner of Certification Partners, LLC

    Lee Fromson is a Senior Vice President of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

    Damien Huang is currently SVP Merchandising at Eddie Bauer Inc.

    Jeff Paro, Chief Executive Officer of InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.

    Jack Soule was an Executive with Southern California Edison Company

    James C. Yardley is Executive Vice President of El Paso Corporation and President of the Pipeline Group.

    Chad Weiss is a Founder and Managing Partner of JOG Capital Inc., a private equity concern which invests in the energy sector.

    Susan C. Schnabel is a Managing Director of Credit Suisse in the Asset Management division

    • David- it appears to me that rich people are on boards of all kinds of organizations especially NGO’s looking for bucks. So how are we to determine which folks are good and noble and which ones are suspect? Just curious.

      • Well, you COULD root around in FEC elections records to see where all these folks plow their political money.
        Barry Fingerhut? Hope he’s not related to Bert.
        But having two REI people (Sally Jewell, remember) and scads of urban real estate mavens kind of makes it clear that NFF isn’t that interested in actual forest policy….more a playground kind of mindset.

  6. Wow, a three day collaborative meeting. Sounds gawd-awful! No I wouldn’t go, even if I was super interested and lived there. I’d just wait till whatever shook out of the meeting made it out for public comment.

    Couple thoughts:

    First – I find it ironic that some of the most outspoken critics of collaboration are paid “executive director” types for their respective member organizations. Kinda nullifies the “not enough time / money” argument when you job is watchdogging these processes and “representing” your members doesn’t it? I understand though why from an ideological perspective some folks might not want to sit around and try to find “common ground” (ostensibly with the “enemy” as Mr. Hammer inferred in his last guest post). No point in compromise, as Ms. Thatcher pointed out. What good is more wilderness if you have to let the unwashed masses have something for it. How’s NREPA going anyway? (by the way, I wasn’t consulted in the formation of that bill and I have a lot of interest in the management of Public lands).

    Second – I guess I don’t get it. What are we foregoing by not attending the “optional collaborative process”? Not having a say in how a wilderness study area is managed? Doesn’t the FS still have to follow the legally required NEPA public involvement process if they propose to change a management plan for the WSA? Aren’t wilderness designations (if one was “agreed” upon) a Congressional thing?

    I guess I kinda have to laugh also. I’ve been to enough of those meetings to know that 3 days, 6 days, 10, even 20 days isn’t going to result in some sort of “moment of clarity” where a perfect, issue-free plan is hatched, especially if there is a legislative portion involved. And I don’t buy the “collaboration makes NEPA pro-forma exercise” bit either, although it seems like your anonymous friend already has his mind made up though that all WSAs should be made into wilderness, regardless of what the locals think. There are plenty of ways to influence a proposal through the legally required process (reference any AWR litigation or your anonymous friend’s threat above).

    So again, I guess I don’t get it. What’s the big deal? Sour grapes? Not looking to start a fight here Matt, but we’ve been over this a lot. You’ve said you don’t want to participate…so don’t. Don’t worry about what others are doing though. I think you’re giving too much credit to what actually goes on in those meetings and the influence they might have. You’ll have your chance for “public input” and so will Janine IF some sort of new management plan is hatched in the 27 or 54 hours of meetings. Save your time and go elk hunting instead!!!

    • Hello JZ, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The WildWest Institute is a small organization with a very modest budget. Go to Guidestar and confirm for yourself that in 2012 our total revenue was about $27,000. The year before it was about $35,000. All 501C3 organizations have “executive directors” (ie a person in charge) or at least that’s my understanding. Therefore, it’s humorous (and mildly annoying) that you use the generic ED title to imply that I make a pile of cash doing this work, or that our organization has ample resources.

      You do this, JZ, in a clear attempt to try and discredit the valid argument about the very real fact that many individuals, small non-profits and small businesses absolutely don’t have enough time/money and resources to travel all around the Northern Rockies participating in optional collaborative processes. If you don’t believe this fact or that it’s an important or a valid concern with all these optional collaborative processes popping up, so be it.

      It would be a mistake for you to think that I’m the only person – and the WildWest Institute is the only organization – that has seriously substantive concerns with how some of these optional collaborative processes are playing out. The fact is, I wrote this piece because I’ve been increasingly contacted by dozens of individuals, small non-profits and even small businesses who feel the same way about these processes and clearly see these optional collaborative processes as largely the domain of the well-funded and politically connected, including the Forest Service.

      And increasingly the decisions and recommendations being made by these optional collaborative processes, which again are dominated by the well-funded and political connected, are being used to 1) marginalize those individuals, groups and businesses that lack time/resources/money to participate in all the optional collaborative processes springing up, or 2) to craft questionable pieces of legislation, which have the potential of balkanizing America’s entire national forest system and compromising America’s public lands legacy.

      So that’s “the big deal” JZ. Sorry if you can’t see this power-play for what it is. Thanks.

      • Hey Matt – I could flip the humorous (and mildly annoying) comment right back at you, but that’s OK, I won’t…we’ve been over this ground many times, but it’s still good conversation if we don’t take it personally.

        Yes, I am trying to debate (“discredit”) the significance of the time/money argument and I noticed you didn’t dispute my claim that proposals can still be effectively (and cost efficiently) influenced through the legally required public involvement process (reference the latest Colt Summit proposed action).

        I wasn’t pointing my comments solely at WWI either, there are plenty of other examples as you’ve pointed out. I know how to work guidestar too and what “non profits” (and their ED’s) make. Income shouldn’t be the measure of a person (as we’ve discussed before) but ultimately folks have to own up to implications of their lifestyle / career choices. There’s always the “force multiplier” option of partnering with another org, like Wildlands CPR just did with WildEarth Guardians, or making friends with an aging (and philanthropic) folk singer.

        I know deep down that the Philadelphia Eagles (my hometown team) would go to the Superbowl every year I could just afford to go to all their games and cheer them on and counter the negative energy of the opposition and second-guess the refs…but I can’t afford it, darnit. I don’t complain, though, about the sportswriters / radio personalities who get paid to go to the game and do the Monday morning armchair quarterback thing. Silly analogy or just about right???

        Questionable legislative proposals, political connections, marginalization, whatever. If that is what you think is happening, so be it. My point is that the legally required NEPA public involvement process is the great equalizer. Until some politically connected organization comes up with a questionable legislative proposal to fix or do away with the NEPA process of course. Oh, and Congress signs off on that proposal (I’m sure they’ll get to that right after the budget). Until that day arrives I’m sure we’ll both have lucrative 🙂 careers on the pro/con side of collaboration! Cheers.

  7. Oh, and the GCC “facilitator”, Jeff Goebel?

    According to GCC:
    “In mid‐June, we began interviewing potential facilitators for the GCC, drawing from a pool of talented applicants with a range of relevant and applicable skills. In mid‐August, after several follow‐up meetings, the Exploratory Committee selected Jeff Goebel of Goebel and Associates to serve as the facilitator for the GCC during its initial six‐month start‐up phase.”

    Maybe the following multinational forprofit and nonprofit corps are just coincidental to my previous post, and maybe it’s just a coincidence Goebel is formerly a recent USDA employee (NRCS).

    Nonetheless, Goebel comes with a distinguished record of collaboration alright.

    In 2009 Goebel was acknowledged in the publication, “Field to Market: The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture”

    The Steering Committee Members included:

    The Nature Conservancy
    Conservation International
    World Wildlife Fund
    Monsanto Company
    ConAgra Foods
    Cargill, Incorporated
    DuPont
    Syngenta

    … and other multinational Agri-biz giants openly intent on dominating the world food supply through their patented GMOs and extremely close affiliations with USDA.
    http://www.usbthinkingahead.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/KeystoneReport.pdf

  8. And… those other multinational steering committee members also include …
    Coca-Cola…

    (Published on Sep 27, 2013)
    “In the past decade, more than 81 million acres of land – an area the size of Portugal – have been sold off to foreign investors without consenting farmers and local communities. These land grabs are tearing communities apart and leaving people hungry and homeless.”

  9. David Beebe, I appreciated your info on NFF which was new to me, but why do you insist that they are also involved with the Gallatin initiative. Do you have any direct evidence for this or can we assume that are they involved quietly in every nefarious undertaking on NF lands.

    Perhaps so…..what you had to say was instructive. I have avoided their pablum thus far without bothering to read it. I never liked them without being sure why, you just confirmed some things for me.

    I know, with so much evil in the world, it is hard to keep track but i think Goebel can handle this without NFF sneaking around to support him,

    • Greg Nagle asked, “why do you insist that (the NFF) are also involved with the Gallatin initiative.”

      First, I did not “insist.” I stated, “I’ll bet my tax dollars NFF is in the middle of this little workshop” by extrapolating from the following: they directly cite the NFF training programs, link to the NFF website, list “federal funding” and list the USFS as a GCC participant. (Nine times out of ten, if the USFS is involved in a “collaboration”, the NFF is there also).

      GCC states:
      “Selected general resources on community-based collaboration on public lands/natural resource issues can be found at these links:

      National Forest Foundation’s “Conservation Connect” resource page: http://www.nationalforests.org/conserve/conservation-connect

      “The National Forest Foundation (NFF) offers technical assistance through Conservation Connect, a learning network for collaboration. Conservation Connect serves community-based groups and Forest Service employees involved in collaborative stewardship on National Forest System lands.”
      (from http://gallatincollaborative.org/about-us/collaborative-framework/ )

      “Do you have any direct evidence for this or can we assume that are they involved quietly in every nefarious undertaking on NF lands.”

      Greg, Here’s the short answers to this unfortunately hyperbolic framing: “Do you have any direct evidence for (the NFF involvement in the Gallatin initiative)?” Yes, (as above), yet there is no disclosure of actual specific funding sources. Instead, the GCC states, “In other Exploratory Committee news, we have now secured at least a full year of funding (approximately $60,000) for the operations of the GCC from a variety of sources, including small, grassroots community support from local individuals and organizations, private foundation grants, and federal funding.
      http://gallatincollaborative.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/GCC-EC-update-new-version-9-25-13.pdf

      (Can we expect NFF involvement in “every nefarious undertaking on NF lands?”) I wouldn’t know, but NFF has a well established pattern it follows in its facilitation of collaborative venues. As to — “nefarious?” (def. “wicked or criminal”) — not criminal, as far as what I know about IRS law, which is precious little.)

      However, there is very little oversight of the multi-millionaire corporate board members and foundation trustees collaborating with the goals of some multi-billionaire “philanthropists” under the guise of charity. What little oversight that has been applied has confirmed nefarious activities do evidently occur. (see 2003 Washington Post series investigating The Nature Conservancy, and numerous examples of ENGOs capitalizing on lending their name brand for greenwashing nefarious corporate agendas such as NRDC greenwashing ENRON, and NAFTA).
      http://www.prwatch.org/files/pdfs/prwatch/prwv10n3.pdf

      There has been virtually no regulatory oversight even after philanthropic foundations openly declared they are “changing the definition of charity … and grant making” — to, “making investments” with funder-dictated outcomes aka “deliverables.”

      There is direct evidence of NFF and other collaboration funders involved with engineering collaborative venues seeking to cash-in on, or set the stage for, others in the outsourcing of governmental functions, the largescale privatization of public lands and resources, and the implementation of carbon credits,
      ( http://www.nationalforests.org/conserve/carbon/carboncapitalfund ) forest offsets, clean development mechanisms, etc. which if ever successfully mandated through federal legislation, would result in fantastic increases in for-profit corporate wealth associated with outsourcing, privatization of public resources, and a multi-trillion dollar derivatives trading market scheme. However, none of these measures in whole or in part, would stem the irreversible and catastrophic climate threats we face.

      So there exists then, a strong case to be made for nonprofit and for-profit corporate motives in pursuit of (“evil or morally wrong”) agendas while fulfilling their IRS obligations to “donations” to charity. (such philanthropy is more accurately described as “obligations” because they are mandated in lieu of paying taxes on foundation investment portfolios furthering corporate profit taking.)

      Those “charitable grants” as “investments”, are morally reprehensible if the primary goals of “investing” are to,
      1.) specifically contain, direct, or neutralize problematic citizen grassroots efforts seeking environmental justice from their government;
      2.) deliberately seek to increase corporate board shareholders’ wealth and foundation investment portfolio wealth with “win-win,” “market based solutions” facilitating corporate outsourcing, and commercialization of public lands,
      (and, especially morally wrong when),
      3.) those market based solutions are pitched to the public by ENGOs as efficacious actions which are sufficient to timely stem climate threats, while undermining or subverting urgently needed GHG emissions reductions within narrow windows of opportunity, and/or subverting national commitments to payment of reparations of loss and damage due victims of climate disasters (such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines) under the internationally acknowledged rationale of the Polluter Pays Principle.

      As is made obvious by the for-profit corporate makeup of the NFF board, we are not just talking about an abstract legal entity aka the “NFF,” but representatives of an elite class of politically privileged, and immensely powerful individuals keenly motivated by any and all opportunities to increase either their respective corporations’ or their personal wealths as shareholders, under the greenwashed rubric of “conservation” “stewardship” and “restoration.”

      A case in point of the intent of this particular class of power brokers, for instance, is an item in this morning’s news:

      “U.S. Fights G77 on Most Counts at Climate Meet, Leaked Doc Shows” (Inter Press Service News)
      WARSAW, Nov 14 2013 (IPS) – The U.S. delegation negotiating at the U.N. international climate change conference in Poland is pushing an agenda of minimising the role of “Loss and Damage” in the UNFCCC framework, prioritising private finance in the Green Climate Fund, and delaying the deadline for post-2020 emission reduction commitments, according to a State Department negotiating strategy which IPS has seen.

      The document, which has been leaked to a pair of journalists covering the Nov. 11-22 COP in Warsaw, outlines the U.S. strategy for the negotiations to diplomats at their various embassies as well as ‘talking points’ for them to push with their respective countries before the talks began.” (end quote)
      (from http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/11/u-s-fights-g77-on-most-counts-at-climate-meet-leaked-doc-shows/ )

      So to be clear, defeating the necessary, and extremely urgent GHG emissions reductions and payment of reparations sought in Warsaw at COP19, can in no way be attributed to the NFF, but certainly to the class of people occupying the NFF board. A class which is now universally recognized for their political donations to influence elections and eclipse that of the middle and lower classes of the electorate.

      That same elite class is openly advocating for virtually all elements of the public commons (air, water, carbon, forests, soils, biodiversity, etc.) to be converted to derivatives trading instruments to be traded and speculated upon, ostensibly for the purposes of funding “green initiatives.” However, these objectives have been repeatedly exposed as half-measures falling far short of what is necessary to stave off inevitable, irreversible, catastrophic climate disasters.
      (see: “Upsetting the Offset” http://mayflybooks.org/?page_id=21 )

      Greg, here’s my personal anecdotal experience with NFF. (alas, as you can see, there’s really no short answer to this, unfortunately)
      Six years ago I heard a new executive director of a once effective and principled regional ENGO (I was once a board member of) publicly deride NEPA in a radio interview during an early meeting of the Tongass Futures Roundtable(TFR). I immediately realized I was not going to get straight answers to my burning questions from the ED and certainly not from his funders (which included the NFF).

      That’s when “collaboration” first came to southeast Alaska. Soon after, I was shown a leaked email memo sent by the funders to the many staff persons of several ENGOs being funded to attend the TFR. The memo explicitly directed the staff to not reveal the full details and ultimate goals of the collaboration scheme to their respective boards of directors. (The email was dubbed the “30,000 ft. Memo” for the following “hide the ball” instruction to the staff I paraphrase here: “When they (board members) ask for details, do not answer directly. Rather, redirect the conversation to the 30,000 ft. perspective… as if flying over the Tongass in a jet. Do not offer specific details.”) Accompanying documents explicitly listed the grant funding amounts (totaling >$6million) the staffers could expect over the next few years if they agreed to follow the funders’ directions.

      Thus, began a fascinating multi-year personal research project.

      My first reaction,(being a somewhat sequestered 25 year rural resident of southeast Alaska) was the TFR collaboration was a unique, one-of-a-kind event. I was to learn, in fact, it fit into a highly structured pattern with certain key ENGOs, or their proxies, playing key roles in cheerleading, facilitating and directing “collaboration.”

      I’ll stop there for now.

      • You convinced me and know a lot more, they are much worse than I assumed. I confess to having applied to be their NW person years ago without knowing anything about them. What you have described about them is disturbing. Thanks

  10. Hi All,

    Mathew is once again raising what is truly a political philosophy question that goes back to our founding a republic of states. The tension between national and local interests has always been with us and likely always will be. In other environmental arenas we have found a compromise in which the Feds set the standards and states figure out how to meet those standards. This has happened with at least the CAA and CWA among other environmental laws. Before I go farther I want to clarify that I am NOT implicitly arguing for a devolution of NF management to the states. But I AM suggesting that setting national standards (baselines) while also offering more influence to local interests in decision-making and implementation, even when the resources in question are “national” in character, is not an unknown concept within US political discourse and policy.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the debate over collaboration is truly as principled as many would suggest (much as I wish this were true). I personally think the whole discussion around collaboration would be much better served if there were more transparent intellectual honesty on all sides. For instance, I wonder whether there would be such vehement opposition to “local collaborations” if any form of timber harvest or other resource extraction were not on the table to begin with (i.e. if the USFS had a very different mission than what currently exists?). On the other hand, I wonder if those frustrated with the impact of litigation on timber harvests would favor “local” input if the vast majority the local input called for an end to the timber program on NFs.

    If people truly want to have a real discussion around the federalist principles that largely define the relationship between state/local interests and national interests, then I’m just wonky enough to find that fascinating. Here’s s start for now…

    1. After much debate, we could all agree in favor of centralized, bureaucratic decision-making processes that do not consider “local input and interests” any differently than “input and interests” from any other citizen of the US (i.e. traditional NEPA). All input is simply registered in a database and the most beneficial” decision is produced without bias or favor to anyone (i.e. the social theory underlying NEPA). Personal relationships with those impacted by decisions (near or far) would be discouraged for fear of bias, and the USFS would hire preferentially for people that are the most able to “disconnect” from others in order to produce decisions that serve only national interests. This was the dream and aspiration of Max Weber, largely considered the Father of the 20th century bureaucracies. It is the “man as machine” metaphor. Most federal bureaucracies currently operate (or aspire to operate) this way, so it would not require moving into uncharted territory to agree that this is the most fair way for government to function when it comes to NF management.

    2. We could alternatively devolve all management to the state or local level, and have states assume all of the management costs associated with this, which would also mean we would agree that the United States would forgo one of the most unique aspects of land tenure in the world. Non-residents would have little or no say in decision-making, and impacts on neighboring states of the former NF system as a whole would not be concerned valid. Choosing this course would likely implicate the myriad environmental regulatory structures already in place, particularly water and air, but also the ESA. State’s rights, constitutionalists, county supremacists, and most recently some tea party advocates have argued for this position. I also believe some on this blog have argued for this position.

    3. After much debate and comparison with other environmental regulatory structures, we could all agree that some sort of middle-ground in which we respect the national character of the system and the interests involved, while also providing greater influence to those most directly affected by decisions provides the most fair outcome for the most interests involved. This would seriously implicate most planning and management law and regulations affecting NF system lands, and so would take some work to implement. While it seems like this is where things are heading, having an open and transparent discussion in this way would at least provide the opportunity to continue in this direction from a more principled standpoint.

    In the mean time, however, I suggest that we all be honest with ourselves and each other that, whether we favor or oppose collaboration largely depends on whether we see it as advantageous to our interests as we currently view them. Beginning with this kind of personal transparency and intellectual honesty would go a long way toward making the tough legal and policy decisions that will be required should we continue down this path. Let’s have the real conversation and stop playing games.

  11. “In the mean time, however, I suggest that we all be honest with ourselves and each other that, whether we favor or oppose collaboration largely depends on whether we see it as advantageous to our interests as we currently view them. Beginning with this kind of personal transparency and intellectual honesty would go a long way toward making the tough legal and policy decisions that will be required should we continue down this path. Let’s have the real conversation and stop playing games.”

    Mike, I think Ayn Rand would have loved your analysis here. Lots of things get advocated and supported for reasons other than self-interest. For example, most folks believe in elections, even when their guy is currently in power. I would support paying higher taxes to help out those in need. Most older folks pay their property taxes to help support K-12 without bitching about it… the list goes on and on. Many of these are basic issues revolving around fairness, and I think that’s the case with the collaboration discussion (whichever side you’re on). I think that by devaluing those opinions by calling them “intellectual dishonesty” and “playing games” is way too simplistic (and I don’t even consider myself all that wonky 🙂 ) -Guy (my last post for awhile, next one will be from Haiti, where btw I ain’t going out of self-interest)

    • Guy,

      I hope you get this before you leave for Haiti. Well said and thank you. I agree with your take that lots of folks do things for reasons that go well beyond self-interest. In fact, I would say a lot of people on this blog and elsewhere do lots of great things that go beyond self interest. I’m just not seeing a lot of that in the dialogue around collaboration.

      From your response though, I think I may have confused the matter by my language. So maybe its important to clarify that “self interests” and “selfish interests” are not the same thing. Ayn Rand saw all people as having nothing more than selfish interests, and when we are really honest with ourselves we all have these. But most of us, like you, also have many self interests that concern lots of other beings as well (human, animals, the earth etc). Those who travel to places like Haiti to help others, for instance, do so because they believe in helping others. This is awesome! Their “self interest” is in helping others, and that’s not a bad thing. I would much rather have more people like you than those with purely selfish interests.

      The point I was making is that when it comes to conversations around collaboration that complaints I hear often stem from a distaste for the outcomes from the collaboration, but I’ve never heard someone (at least not to date) complain or argue against a collaboration when the outcome was actually something they favored. Maybe I’m just not seeing something here, but if the number one priority or actual interests of folks either in favor or against collaboration was truly a matter of federalist principles, then I think the whole conversation would look much different that it is…

      Thanks again for your comment Guy, and best of luck to you in Haiti. I admire your work!

  12. Mike, I would respond by saying local control would be okay, even if it went against active management. But the system would have to be set up so the consequences or benefits of whatever option gets selected would remain local in nature. If Aspen or Seattle wants to not log anything ever, fine, but don’t come crying when your watershed gets smoked.
    If Roseburg wants to mow everything flat — don’t come whining for social support services when it’s all slicked off.
    I have a feeling if policies were truly set at a local level, even state, where funding transfers and money printing are not an option, public forests would be managed at a common sense middle ground as we are seeing with tribal forests as tribes take larger and larger roles in their quest for sovereign self-reliance.

    • Well said Dave. Yours is a perspective that is truly grounded in a more principled viewpoint from what I can see. Whatever pathway is chosen, there will be consequences. I would add that the inverse of your scenario may be true as well. At the risk of awakening the beast that is the spotted owl controversy, one could argue that timber interests became too powerful in the PNW back in the 80’s and this led to a non-local impact that implicated the ESA over the spotted owl (i.e. endangered species are a national interest). From this and other experiences, I would tend to agree with you in the sense that the credibility of the argument for “local influence” is be degraded when localized decisions are out of balance in either direction…

      • I think most of us here, whether we admit it or not, know what a well-managed forest looks like — forestry is an art, and when we look at something and say “hmmmm, good” the overall approach is, yep, we could do THIS forever. We can visualize the future forces on the landscape and think to ourselves, our kids won’t be miffed at us if we do this, or fail to do that.
        One of the things Indians do when left alone, is multiple entries in fairly short timeframes, using a combination of burns and harvest. It’s not real programmatic, but the general leave or sense is one of visual attractiveness and good productivity of not only wood, but other “stuff” humans like.
        I like to knock trees down and saw them up and screw them together with other trees. But not every tree everywhere. I think I was in the Tiller country getting a show from Columbia Helicopters on debris stacking (the Chinook broke) and there was this awesome champion sugar pine on a little knob, some idiot creature had girdled it but it wasn’t dead yet. I got just a little wet in the eyes for a few seconds, some things certainly are special, and some acts criminal. On the other hand, I’d love the chance to drop a few fat second-growth sugars all my ownself and would have no compunctions at all about dropping the champion tree if it had burnt or dies — I hope it doesn’t and heals over.

  13. UPDATE 2: Another 3 days worth of meetings, covering 24 hours, was just announced by the Gallatin Collaborative. I hear Bozeman, MT is really easy (and cheap) to drive into or fly into during January.

    Dear Friends,

    On behalf of Jeff Goebel, the GCC Exploratory Committee wants to sincerely honor and thank you for your hard work and participation in the recent 3-day workshop at the County Fairgrounds.

    It was a powerful and insightful time together. As you all know, this is a marathon not a sprint, but significant progress is being made. The issues we covered and questions answered are not what many of us expected, but they are equally as important as any of the traditional on-the-ground concerns. We are off to a great start.

    The entire group of October Collective Statements, along with updated FAQs and materials from the November workshop, will be posted on the GCC website at http://www.gallatincollaborative.org before the next scheduled sessions beginning January 9. Below are the details on the January GCC workshop. Please forward this to anyone interested in the process, and encourage them to attend any or all of these meetings.

    The purposes of the January meetings will be to explore the change that is desired for the communities surrounding the Gallatin Range, design the operating structure of the Gallatin Community Collaborative, and develop new and more effective ways of valuing the people involved in the region.

    Thursday, January 9 – 1:00pm to 9:00pm

    Friday, January 10 – 1:00pm to 9:00pm

    Saturday, January 11 – 9:00am to 5:00pm

    Best Western
    1515 W Park St

    Livingston, MT

    Food and refreshments will be served.
    RSVP at http://www.gallatincollaborative.org

    If any of you are interested or planning on practicing the consensus building skills Jeff has been sharing with our community and you are looking for support or have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Exploratory Committee at info@gallatincollaborative.org. Be sure to include this email in your Contact list to avoid it getting sent to the junk folder.

    May you all have an enjoyable and safe Holiday season and we look forward to working with you all again soon.

    With Respect & Gratitude,

    Jeff Goebel

  14. Pingback: Groups object to ‘undemocratic’ Gallatin Community Collaborative process – A New Century of Forest Planning

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