The Ten Year Circle of Life: Malheur Version

This story is interesting because it seems to be about the FS getting in its own way..due to its own complicated procedures…

The Forest Service, after months of work on a 10-year timber contract, seemed to pull the plug on that promise in an announcement May 17. Officials said they would need to identify all the volume for such a contract at the outset, and that wasn’t feasible. Instead they proposed a shorter-term timber contract for this year, while they worked to find longer term options.

The surprise announcement this afternoon presented a different solution: a 10-year Integrated Resource Service Contract.

Officials said that type of contract is done under different rules, making the 10-year term possible.

Simply put, a timber contract must have all the volume identified and ready for offer, including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) work. The resource service contracts can identify acreage to be treated and restored, with NEPA continuing throughout the term of the contract.

Officials said Regional Forester Kent Connaughton, in a letter to Malheur Forest Supervisor Teresa Raaf, encouraged the forest staff to push ahead with longer term alternatives such as the 10-year service contract.

The aim of the new contract will be to reduce threats of uncharacteristic wildfire and insect and disease outbreaks, improve wildlife habitat, improve watershed conditions, provide jobs in local communities and provide wood products to support retention of a forest products infrastructure.

“We are pleased that the forest has found a way to meet the goals of accelerated restoration on these important landscapes. This 10-year agreement will advance the cause of collaborative forestry and 21st century forest stewardship,” said Connaughton.

Raaf, who has been championing the 10-year concept in the community since last fall, was pleased with the solution.

“I am delighted we were able to find a new way to accelerate restoration on the Malheur. The forest is on track to offer 55 mmbf this year and 75 mmbf in fiscal year 2015 and beyond,” she said.

Lisa Friedman, chief of staff to the regional forester, said the agency, from Washington, D.C. to the local forest, is on board for the new approach.

Lisa Freedman (she is not a Friedman, as much as I would like to claim her) and Kent Connaughton are two of the smartest people I know. If the contracting systems are so complicated that even they have trouble understanding the options, we are potentially all in a world of hurt. IMHO>

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