Collaboration offers suggestions for Panhandle Forests

From the Spokesman Review here.

For four decades, truckloads of logs rolling out of the woods were Bob Boeh’s primary interest in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
No surprise since his employer, Idaho Forest Group, depends on federal timber sales to help keep five sawmills churning out 2-by-4s.
But Boeh also finds himself pondering old-growth habitat for owls and woodpeckers these days, along with wilderness areas and scenic river designations. He’s part of a collaborative group of timber industry officials and environmentalists searching for common ground. They’re working on the premise that healthy forests support healthy rural economies.
Though loggers and tree huggers are historic adversaries, they’re recognizing that lawsuits and antagonism can result in losing scenarios for both sides.
Controversial timber sales hurt mill workers by generating legal challenges that lead to gridlock. Forest health, meanwhile, suffers when communities lose sawmills, because there are fewer options for thinning dense, fire-prone stands of trees.
“We thought it was time for a paradigm shift,” Boeh said of the collaborative effort. “There’s 2.5 million acres on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, so there’s plenty of opportunities to have a good, suitable timber base, additions to the wilderness system, something for off-road vehicles and snowmobiles and plenty of fishing, hunting and hiking opportunities. .We should all be able to have a portion if we work together. ”
Since January, he’s been meeting weekly with seven other people with an interest in the North Idaho forests, among them wilderness advocates, loggers and wildlife biologists. The grueling sessions produced a 12-page letter to Mary Farnsworth, supervisor of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
The letter comments on a proposed forest plan revision, which will guide management decisions over the next 10 to 15 years. The letter:
. Supports regular logging operations on 38 percent (900,000 acres) of the forest, including increased certainty of timber harvests.
. Supports new wilderness areas and wild and scenic river designations. The group listed Scotchman Peak, the Mallard-Larkins area and the North Fork of the St. Joe River as areas worthy of protection.
. Recommends better inventories of old growth stands and monitoring of old growth-dependent species, such as pileated woodpeckers, flammulated owls and goshawks.
. Supports leaving buffers of trees and shrubs around streams to shade the water and keep it cool for fish.
“We really think this is monumental . it’s been a heavily litigated forest,” said Liz Johnson-Gebhardt, executive director of the Priest Community Forest Connection, one of the letter’s signers. “All these folks worked really hard to reach a consensus.”

6 thoughts on “Collaboration offers suggestions for Panhandle Forests”

  1. A surprising omission from that SR article was that this group also has recommended that 30 percent of the IPNF be managed for OLD GROWTH. This is a major concession by timber industry people. Of course, the devil is in the details. Exactly what type of prescriptions they will support on existing OG or potential OG remains to be seen. I expect continued appeals and litigation ahead if the proposal expects “managed” OG. And how the IPNF decision-makers will deal with this…?

  2. Sharon, it would be wonderful if you could avoid choosing the same tired articles employing the same simplistic reductionism which repeats the same slurs and touts the same false logic celebrating the wonders of “collaboration”. This is perhaps best exemplified by the following quote:

    “Though loggers and tree huggers are historic adversaries, they’re recognizing that lawsuits and antagonism can result in losing scenarios for both sides.” The losing scenario is not determined by citizens forcing their government to abide by environmental laws. The losing scenario is economic policy which is demonstrably unsustainable.

    If we had a moral requisite to economic policies, we would not need environmental laws, and surely would not need sham collaboration forums for “common ground” in management of national forests. Instead, we’re forced to endure celebratory collaborations cutting deals to maintain business as usual (BAU) which is known to fail to address clear and present threats and is clearly unsustainable.

    Using your own chosen criteria for comment considerations…

    “Is it True?”
    That is, does collaboration (as it is implied), avoid “losing scenarios for both sides?” Of course not. The outcome of “collaboration” is a green washed suicide pact in the face of overwhelming evidence BAU is a bona fide planet-killer.

    Further, the ethical and moral ramifications are considerable: Are wilderness designations (agreed to by a devolved body of “stakeholders” confidently speaking on behalf of the best interests of ALL present and future generations of Americans), and promises of “stewardship”, qualitatively or quantitatively equivalent to the environmental consequences of cutting deals mandating environmentally damaging timber “harvest” to occur on public lands?

    The moral implications of course, include failing to address the specter (and present evidence) of severe climatic and biological instability, and the socio-economic opportunity costs of failing to retrain rural residents in livelihoods which aren’t perpetuating environmentally harmful, infamously boom-bust, rural economies based upon resource extraction at all costs.

    Is there somehow an equivalency to wilderness set asides in exchange for BAU and renewed agency promises of “stewardship”? Of course not, and further, knowing the catastrophic scenarios unfolding on our planet, this decision to “collaborate” goes beyond the standard terms of extortion (“the practice of obtaining something, esp. money, through force or threats”) into the realm of Sophie’s Choice, whereby the choices presented result in equally tragic outcomes for our children and their children.

    We need, above all, a restructuring of rural economies previously dependent upon destructive livelihoods, to shift to livelihoods which actually address the present real threats of unsustainable commodity-driven consumerism. This must occur, first and foremost on public forest lands, especially considering it is only supplying <5% of the nation's timber needs.

    "Is it helpful?"
    Does your repeated advocacy to deregulate or reregulate and/or buy-off citizen challenges of captured agencies to abide by environmental laws of the land, (which collaboration fora seek), really "helpful" or more importantly, even moral? Of course not.

    Fast forward 20-50 years to the likely climate scenario from BAU being described by a consensus of climate scientists (and their famously underestimated to-date) predictions of catastrophic climate consequences, and one can easily imagine you and the environmental sell-outs who agreed to, or approved of, mandated logging levels (come hell or high water) on these 900,000 acres of public land will be among the innumerable and immoral "decider's" of their children and grandchildrens' living hell. This probability is highly likely.

    "Is it kind?"
    Are you comfortable with normalizing the use of slurs such "tree hugger", and perpetuating false solutions of known planetary threats?

    My first two quick searches (free
    "tree hugger – derogatory term for environmentalists who support restrictions on the logging industry and the preservation of forests

    Wiki A slang, sometimes derogatory, term for environmentalists
    noun informal, chiefly derogatory

    • There is no such thing as “business as usual”, here in California. Thank you! That concept was abandoned here in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

      • I guess I need to qualify that statement as valid for Forest Service lands in the Sierra Nevada. Yes, highgrading and clearcutting was voluntarily banned by the Forest Service, in the Sierra Nevada National Forests, all the way back in 1993. Since then, salvage volumes have far exceeded green sale projects, with ASQ’s currently at 1/30th of the 80’s numbers. It is still unclear whether there will be any timber projects selling at all. with mills choosing not to buy tiny trees.

  3. Have to agree with (at least some of) David’s sentiment…The “loggers vs. tree huggers is a little passe””…

    Does anyone know who the “magnificent seven” are? Are any of the routine litigants of the IPNF part of that group? I see TLC is represented, but others?

    Also, not to be arrogant, correcting or insulting….I would like to point out that the correct terminology should be old growth “associated” species instead of old growth “dependant” species. It’s more than just sematics since pileated WPs (as an example) can live happily in second growth too but “prefer” old growth…

    • Thanks JZ, for expanding the references and preferences to old growth. I chose the more general context of how these issues are routinely portrayed. From that broader context, including where I reside, (in the temperate rainforest of southeast Alaska), there are still widely recognized, (oft-cited in NEPA documents), “old growth dependent species”.

      We are witnessing on the Tongass, striking population declines of those old growth dependent species in the wake of intensive, sustained, even age management employed by the USFS. In our archipelago, the multi-layered old growth canopy provides two important functions: interception of snow and rain, and canopy gaps for allowing light to the understory for forbs and shrubs.

      Even age management (extensive low elevation clear cuts with associated roads) results in fragmented habitat and second growth stands which take two centuries or more to recover old growth structure and function characteristics necessary to support old growth dependent species.

      Climate change impacts are occurring with greater frequency and higher magnitudes across the US and in other parts of Alaska. This should be factored into all NFS management decisions.


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