White Paper: Emerging Frustration Among Citizens’ Collaborative Groups

Folks, I recently came across “WHITE PAPER: Understanding and Addressing Emerging Frustration Among Citizens’ Collaborative Groups Interacting with the USDA Forest Service.” The authors write that “the window of opportunity to accomplish meaningful restoration of large landscapes of our nation’s national forests through citizen collaboration may be closing, as evidenced by a recently published collective statement of 19 organizations indicting FS collaborative processes and pledging not to participate in such efforts.”

Can anyone point me to that collective statement?

 

19 Comments

  1. Several years ago, I heard Chief Tidwell speak about collaboratives. My conclusion was that this is a means of avoidance through collaboration; kind of like forming yet another committee to study an issue avoids having to make a decision.

    Skimming through the “white paper” more or less confirmed what I’d always suspected. I.e., many of the “partners” in these collaboratives either get what they want or they walk. And, if they walk and, therefore, are not part of the final decision, they feel quite free to sue.

  2. I remember one first collaboration efforts in Quincy, California. Thrown out because of some environmental protest. I know recently collaboration seems to be the vogue. The Forest Service is trying to avoid lawsuits, but with dubious results.
    I think everyone needs to spend more time in the forests and less in meetings.

  3. The projects in in the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington. “Foresters would thin 118,000 acres in the Ochoco National Forest, 212,000 acres in the Umatilla National Forest and 280,000 acres in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.”

    The article has a link to the project web site.

    • Hi Steve,

      AWR is based in Helena, MT. The Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition meets in Libby, MT. It would take a person 10 hours of driving, and putting nearly 600 miles on their car, to get from Helena to Libby, MT to attend an optional, private, non-transparent ‘collaborative’ group.

      I’ve asked for weeks to see meeting notes of the Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition (KFSC). Zero response. Also, I should point out that I’m one of the founders of the KFSC, as was the WildWest Institute. But after numerous trips over black ice, or terrible roads, driving 7 hours and nearly 400 miles to listen to people blame enviros and not at all interested in science-base public lands management, we too opted not to attend these optional meetings.

      What’s your solution to these real-world logistics that many citizens or small non-profits face when faced with the choice of driving around the region attending optional ‘collaborative’ meetings?

    • Also, Steve, here’s a comment I posted to newspapers in Montana, which ran a different Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition Oped about how swell their ‘collaboration’ is and how neat the East Reservoir Timber Sale is.

      —————-

      Source: http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/loggers-conservationists-stand-by-kootenai-timber-sale/article_21384e36-d84e-59e7-9c81-6897bbb2598b.html
      As a former member of the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition I read this oped with interest.

      So, even though the letter writers admit that “America is a nation of laws,” they just don’t think the U.S. judicial branch of our government is a worthy place for legal issues to be solved.

      Instead they hold a somewhat pollyannaish view that “the best place to settle differences is out in the fresh air, in the scent of pines and the sound of the breeze overhead.”

      I’d encourage these letter writers to go tell that to their friends and neighbors who were knowingly poisoned and killed by WR Grace. Yes, perhaps if some of the Libby townsfolk’s would’ve just gone on a walk in the woods with WR Grace executives, the corporate executives would’ve come to their senses, right?

      It always amazes me how these rhetoric-filled opeds from ‘collaborators’ always need to be signed by so many people (gotta show the public all that support, right?) and always fail to provide the public with many of the actual details or substantive issues.

      Funny, but there’s zero mention by Robyn King and the other letter writers of bull trout, white sturgeon, Canada lynx and grizzly bear species native to the impacted area. Yet, that’s the entire crux of AWR’s Notice of Intent to sue over this huge logging project.

      Attorney Timothy Bechtold (an upstanding Missoula community member who raises money for local parks, etc) representing the Alliance for The Wild Rockies, sent this notice of intent to file suit on Dec. 2, 2014, to the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. As anyone can clearly read, the notice alleges this large timber sale fails to adequately address the protection of bull trout, white sturgeon, Canada lynx and grizzly bear species native to the impacted area.

      See for yourself: http://forestpolicypub.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/60Day-Notice_East-Reservoir.pdf

      So ask yourself, why would King and the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition completely fail to mention anything about bull trout, white sturgeon, Canada lynx and grizzly bears? Could it be that they don’t want the public to know the details and substance? Are they more concerned with winning a PR battle, than actually informing the public about what’s happening on public lands and to imperiled wildlife?

      While this oped mentions that 8,800 acres (almost 14 square miles) of the Kootenai National Forest would be logged under this timber sale, the letter writers fail to let the public know that about 3,600 acres of this logging would be done via clearcutting. And that much of this clearcutting would take place in habitat for bull trout, white sturgeon, Canada lynx and grizzly bears.

      Again, ask yourself, why would King and the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition completely fail to mention anything about this?

      While the letter states that the timber sale would result in 39 million board feet of logging, the public should know what this really means. That much logging will require nearly 7,800 log trucks, which if lined up end to end would stretch for nearly 70 miles down the highway full of trees from our public national forests.

      Keep in mind that much of this logging is taken place not only within important habitat for bull trout, white sturgeon, Canada lynx and grizzly bears, but it’s also proposed to happen within a part of the Kootenai National Forest that is already heavily fragmented by previous clearcuts, logging projects and criss-crossed with roads.

      Again, I’d encourage the public to actually dig deeper and not take the rhetoric from the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition at face value. As a former member of that group I can tell you for certain that their main goal was to get more logging done your public national forests and there was very little, if any, attention paid to important wildlife issues.

      Please read the actual NOI from the Alliance for the Wild Rockies to see what issues are actually at stake. If we are truly a “nation of laws” you’d think this oped from King, the Montana Wilderness Association and Friends wouldn’t leave out most all of the details, substance and context. Thanks.

      http://forestpolicypub.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/60Day-Notice_East-Reservoir.pdf

      —————–

      FWIW: Here’s a satellite image of the timber sale project area.

      At left is the project map from the Forest Service for the East Reservoir timber sale on the Kootenai National Forest. At right is a satellite image of the project area, showing the extent of past clearcuts and logging. The Forest Service is proposing to log 8,800 acres with this project, including about 3,600 acres of clearcuts. Nearly 8,000 logging trucks would be required to haul out the trees. According to a Notice of Intent filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the project area is home to bull trout, white sturgeon, Canada lynx and grizzly bears, among other wildlife species.

      • You make it sound like a lot of logging when really it’s not. Maybe enough to last the modern mills of today half a year or less. I imagine it is going to be a several year project. So maybe you’ll have 10 to 20 loads of logs a day on the road. They will be harvesting less than a truckload per acre, which seems like a pretty light touch on the landscape. Maybe even creating some gaps that might be good for those species of concern.
        Are there any projects that include timber harvesting you would support?

        • So, 8,000 log-trucks worth of trees cut down from one timber sale on public lands isn’t really a lot of logging because it’s “maybe enough to last the modern mills of today half a year or less.”

          Ok, got it. Thanks for putting that into perspective.

        • As I wrote in my comment on that Missoulian article….
          _______________

          Here’s some information that Brian Sybert hopes the public doesn’t know about, or understand.

          The Montana Wilderness Association has raked in millions of dollars from private, out-of-state foundations to push public lands ‘collaboration,’ including some examples of public lands ‘collaboration’ that are nothing but exclusive, self-selected special interests groups operating in a secret, non-transparent process to greatly increase public lands logging and release Wilderness Study Areas for development. How does that fact compare with all these calls to Keep It Public? Or how are these examples of exclusive, non-transparent ‘collaboration’ not actually part of an Anti-Public Lands agenda? Seems to me that they are.

          For example, go on-line and try and find concrete information about the Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition, which Sybert touts. Go and try and search for meeting notes of the KFSC. Go try and find a compilation of the science and research that the KFSC actually uses and incorporates into its decision making process.

          While touting the Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition, Sybert also failed to mention that the Montana Wilderness Association recently filed a friend of the court brief against a snowmobiler lawsuit on the Kootenai National Forest. One has to wonder why MWA choose to file a court brief instead of just ‘collaborate’ and find ‘common ground’ with the snowmobilers.

          Here’s something else that Sybert failed to inform readers about. The Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition and the Montana Wilderness Association are actually involved in another lawsuit on the Kootenai National Forest. The Montana Wilderness Association and KFSC actually intervened a timber sale lawsuit on the Kootenai National Forest to support a Forest Service logging project that calls for nearly 9,000 acres of logging, including over 3,000 acres of clearcuts in critical lynx habitat. Nearly 8,000 logging trucks would be required to haul out all the trees that the Montana Wilderness Association has gone to court to try and help log.

          But wait, there’s even something more amazing about this! The Montana Wilderness Association is being represented in court supporting this East Reservior timber sale by timber industry lawyers from the American Forest Resource Council. These are the very same timber industry lawyers at the American Forest Resource Council who sued to stop the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. But now are representing the Montana Wilderness Association in court to support 9,000 acres of logging, including over 3,000 acres of clearcuts in critical lynx habitat on the Kootenai National Forest. Why didn’t Sybert mention this?

          Here’s a satellite image of the East Reservoir timber sale area that MWA has gone to court to support: http://forestpolicypub.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/East-Reservior-Project-KNF.png

          At left is the project map from the Forest Service for the East Reservoir timber sale on the Kootenai National Forest. At right is a satellite image of the project area, showing the extent of past clearcuts and logging. Again, the Forest Service is proposing to log 8,800 acres with this project, including about 3,600 acres of clearcuts. Nearly 8,000 logging trucks would be required to haul out the trees. According to a Notice of Intent filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the project area is home to bull trout, white sturgeon, Canada lynx and grizzly bears, among other wildlife species. But hey, that’s all specific information that Brian Sybert and the Montana Wilderness Association would rather not have the public know about.

  4. Martin Nie at Univ of MT Bolle Center also is publishing a comprehensive piece on FS collaborative efforts (Nie, M. & P. Metcalf, “National Forest Management: The Contested Use of Collaboration and Litigation,” Environmental Law Reporter 46 (2016): 10208-10221 (forthcoming March 2016)).

    When I spoke with Nie last Fall in Missoula, we compared anecdotal views from people we’d talked to. I’m all for collaboration, but it is after all only a process. Nie and I both had heard from many frustrated participants, citing many of the same reasons in this white paper. To be fair, I’ve also heard many contented souls who feel they are achieving long-hoped-for breakthroughs. It seems the vital ingredient is committed leadership, conducting collaboration with real integrity, and resolved to follow through with decisive action. This includes being honest, not leading people on about what’s possible.

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