Colville National Forest Plan is a Public Disgrace: 17 Years of Collaboration is Ignored

The following press release was issued by the Republic, Washington-based Kettle Range Conservation Group on October 23, 2019. It can be viewed here.

For Immediate Release: October 23, 2019

Colville National Forest Plan is a Public Disgrace: 17 Years of Collaboration is Ignored

On October 21, U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Glen Casamassa signed the Record of Decision finalizing the revised Forest Plan for Colville National Forest. The plan signals a significant increase in logging – including a large areas of clearcutting – as much as 25,000 acres per year across the 1.1 million acre Colville Forest and above prior recommendations. The Colville’s 5-year logging levels are now projected at 100 to 150 million board feet per year or about two to three thousand log trucks filled each year. [MODERATOR NOTE: I believe 100 to 150 million board feet would require 20,000 to 30,000 log trucks. – mk]

“The visual impacts are going to be very, very significant and increasing each year from now for the next 20 years as hundreds of thousands of acres are logged,” said Timothy Coleman, executive director of Republic-based Kettle Range Conservation Group. “The visual landscape-scale degradation is already in full swing and visible now on Sherman and Boulder Pass, but it’s just the beginning.”

The Forest Plan Revision Process has dragged on for over 15 years and countless hours have been volunteered by the public to inform the Forest Service’s process. Two earlier draft Plan proposals recommended far less logging and far more wilderness acres be protected. The Final Plan is a complete reversal of those early plans.

“I have participated in countless Forest Service-led collaborative processes and I never once heard the public ask for more clearcut logging,” said Coleman. “One forest supervisor after another told us the Forest Service would use our comments to craft a plan we could feel good about. Well, in the final hour it was Colville Supervisor Rodney Smolden, who supervised plan creation, pulled the rug out from under all of us.”

Coleman is a 17 year veteran of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition (NEWFC) considered to be the most successful forest collaborative in the country and working with the Colville National Forest has made it famous. The Colville has the highest timber volume production in the entire National Forest System.

“Seventeen years of my life has been wasted getting the public to believe the U.S. Forest Service had changed its history of clearcut logging and could be trusted to care for our public lands. NEWFC even had a collaborative agreement between the Timber Industry and environmental community to support 200,000 acres of wilderness management in the Forest – but Supervisor Smolden stabbed collaboration in the back. It’s almost uncanny release of the final plan was timed to coincide with Halloween – the trick really is on us,” Coleman said.

In the face of mass extinctions of wildlife caused by climate change and loss of forest and other critical habitat, it is absolutely unconscionable what Supervisor Smolden is proposing to do,” said Coleman. “I believe the Colville National Forest and the U.S. Forest Service will rue the day it went back on its word to support collaborative agreements and restore “healthy” forests. It’s just another ruse by the U.S. Forest Service adding to a long history of disservice to wildlife and public interests.”

NOTE: Tim Coleman has been active in the conservation of forest and water resources since 1971, nearly 50 years. Tim is a Vietnam-era Navy veteran. Tim and his wife built and live in a hand-crafted solar-powered log cabin north of Republic, Washington. Since 1993, Tim has served as director of the Kettle Range Conservation Group. Tim cofounded the Wild Washington Campaign that led to the passage of the Wild Sky Wilderness, and he is a cofounder of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition and the Columbia Highlands Initiative. In 1998 Tim received the Environmental Hero Award from the Washington Environmental Council.

44 thoughts on “Colville National Forest Plan is a Public Disgrace: 17 Years of Collaboration is Ignored”

  1. This piece came out on NPR on the 23rd, which seems to indicate that Peterson, another member of the group, may have been OK with it.
    Washington State Is Thinning Out Forests To Reduce Wildfire Risk : NPR

    And the ROD seems to have been posted on the 21st.
    Here are the changes between draft and final. They don’t sound as surprising as depicted in the press release.
    “As a result of public comment on the draft EIS, new information, and additional analyses, some changes were made between the draft and final EIS. A summary of these changes may be found in the final EIS, chapter 1. Excluding minor editorial changes, clarifications, and typographical errors, modifications made between the draft and final EIS are summarized here:
    • All alternatives were updated to add more description, more details about the public
    involvement process, a table describing suitability of uses for each management area, and
    information about a new land acquisition;
    • Alternative P was updated:
    ♦ The Kettle Crest Special Interest Area was changed to the Kettle Crest Recreation Area;
    ♦ The Cee Cee Ah watershed was added to the Key Watershed Network and the management
    area was changed to Focused Restoration;
    ♦ Approximately 7,000 acres of recommended wilderness were changed to Back Country or
    General Restoration management areas;
    ♦ Updates were made to the Colville Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy;
    ♦ An updated discussion was added about climate change;
    ♦ Discussions of yellow-billed cuckoo and wolverine were added;
    ♦ Terminology for terrestrial and aquatic species was updated;
    ♦ Several new appendices were added.”

    Perhaps a knowledgeable member of The Smokey Wire community could add more info about this?

    • Hi Sharon,

      The NPR piece makes zero mention of the new Forest Plan and was likely recorded months before the new Forest Plan ROD was signed. So, no, the NPR piece cannot seem “to indicate that Peterson, another member of the group, may have been OK with it.”

      In fact, on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 the Spokesman Review did run an article about the signing of the Forest Plan ROD.

      The Spokesman-Review piece does have a factually incorrect title and the first paragraph about the Forest Plan supposedly “adds 61,000 acres of Wilderness” and “creates about 61,000 acres of new protected wilderness area – significantly less than environmentalists had hoped for.”

      As we all know, Forest Plans just “recommend” Wilderness, only Congress can “create” or “add” Wilderness to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Spokesman Review article clearly indicates:

      The announcement of the plan’s approval had been expected since July. It came as a blow to groups that called for more recommended wilderness area. The Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, which represented environmental, industrial and recreation interests, originally asked for more than 200,000 acres.

      The coalition included Vaagen Brothers Lumber Co. and the Spokane-based Lands Council. About a year ago, those groups said they had been blindsided when the Forest Service unveiled the forest management plan, effectively ignoring years of deliberations and compromises.

      Forest Service officials have said they needed to strike a compromise with those who opposed expanding the forest’s wilderness areas, including cattle ranchers and county commissioners in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

      The Colville National Forest has one federally designated wilderness area – the 41,335-acre Salmo-Priest Wilderness – which represents about 3% of the 1.1 million-acre forest. Such areas must be designated by an act of Congress, although the Forest Service can create “recommended” wilderness areas with lighter restrictions on activities such as tree thinning and mineral leasing.

      Mike Petersen, executive director of the Lands Council, said he’s disappointed but hopeful as environmental groups continue working with local officials on fire planning, road maintenance and grazing issues around the forest.

      But, back to that NPR story. It was viewed by many as a feel-good puff piece and Mike Petersen’s comment that those who don’t “collaborate” don’t know the woods, science or even get out on the ground was meet with strong rebuke from dozens of longtime forest and wildlife protections advocates who shared their perspective withe the reporter. Here’s one such example from Paul Sieracki:

      Kirk Siegler, NPR

      Please consider apologizing to those people who do not participate in logging collaboratives for publishing the lies of Mike Petersen. This is in relation to the following quote on NPR

      “What I find is that people who don’t want to collaborate typically throw darts from a distance. They don’t get out on the ground. They don’t read the science, or they selectively pick science.”

      As a professional wildlife biologist and geospatial analyst I am personally offended by this vindictive attack by Petersen on non collaborative groups. These groups maintain the highest environmental ethics, are current in fire and forest sciences and are constantly in the field collecting data, including myself and many other individuals. They are not bought out by timber industry as the Lands Council seems to be with the advertising of Vaagen Brothers mill on their site.

      Logging collaborative actions have encouraged the false narrative promoted by the US Forest Service that logging and roadbuilding is restoration. It is not. Logging collaboratives have empowered industry and congress to increase the cut. The greenwashed environmental groups like the Lands Coucil and Idaho Conservation League and contributing to the loss of endangered species, roadless areas and forests with a high rate of carbon sequestration.

      I demand an apology from NPR and from the Lands Council, and a public recant by Petersen of the wrongful attack on environmental groups and their members.

      Here’s another example:

      Dear Kirk,

      I’m writing to let you know how dismayed I am at the puff piece you did promoting logging in WA. I was especially irked by the following quote:

      PETERSON: What I find is that people who don’t want to collaborate typically throw darts from a distance. They don’t get out on the ground. They don’t read the science, or they selectively pick science.

      Myself and many others know Mike Petersen and worked with him for years. His quote demonstrates he is a liar. All of us go out in the field and all of us know the science. Mike is the one manipulating and cherry-picking the science. Literally hundreds of fire ecologists have signed letters to congress stating logging the back country will do nothing to prevent wildfires driven by climate change. Jack Cohen, fire ecologist who worked for the Forest Service for over 30 years has been trying to educate the public and lawmakers that reducing fuels around people’s homes out to 100 feet is what is needed to protect communities. Anything beyond that is just plain old logging to line the pockets of industry. The Forest Service knows this and so does Mike.

      Mike got in bed with the timber industry when they started funding the Lands Council. Vaagen Brothers is listed as a “partner” on their website. Surely you can see the conflict of interest. I am astonished that NPR would do such a shoddy piece and not interview others.

      There are dozens of reasons not to collaborate with the Forest Service and industry – and it starts with their lying to lawmakers; instilling fear in the public; and paying people to participate in their collaboratives. From the get go members agree to logging – the discussion of not logging an area never comes up. Public lands belong to all Americans, not just the people who live in communities near National Forest lands, and are employed by the timber industry. Trump of course wants to increase logging like he wants to increase all other extractive uses. And the Public Lands Council gets bought off to participate, in my opinion. I could give you the names of dozens of grassroots forest activists who will disagree with Mike Petersen. You didn’t do your homework and you owe the public an apology. If this is the best you can do I’d advise another line of work. NPR isn’t Fox News.

  2. Another example of those darned three ‘C-Words’. Collaboration is the easy part, in just throwing out ideas (so to speak) and in educating the stakeholders. I’ve always said that it is the next ‘C-Word’ of “Consensus” that would be awkward and painful to achieve, before going on to “Compromise”. It looks like the Forest Service is choosing to skip “Consensus” in choosing something that doesn’t look like a compromise.

    I predict such a plan would result in successful lawsuits, down the road. It’s not going to slide by, unnoticed by eco-lawyers. The James Watt style of the 80’s was so very long ago.

  3. Thank you, Sharon, for providing the additional links to make it easier for us to find the relevant documents for comparison with the Kettle Range Conservation Group presser. When something like this comes out for public airing, it’s helpful to have the actual management documents to compare the claims and assertions with.

    I find that it’s important not to take any advocacy group’s press release claims as gospel, no matter what the group’s philosophical underpinnings may be, particularly when a press release addresses someone’s hurt dance. The truth is out there, but often has to be teased out of the actual policy documents.

  4. This article was previously posted at this blog, but it’s a good reminder.

    Ignoring years of collaboration and compromise among stakeholders, Colville National Forest reduces eligible wilderness areas in draft plan (November 28, 2018)

    A proposal that would have more than quadrupled the amount of protected wilderness in Eastern Washington came to a screeching halt earlier this fall.

    The Colville National Forest released its draft management plan Sept. 8. To the surprise of conservation groups and one of the area’s largest timber producers, the draft didn’t contain many recommendations hammered out over years of give-and-take between stakeholders.

    In particular, under the draft plan, more than 60,000 acres of the Colville National Forest will be designated as recommended wilderness.

    A coalition, which represents environmental, industrial and recreation interests, originally proposed more than 200,000 acres, said Mike Petersen, the executive director of The Lands Council and a founding member of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, or NEWFC. The coalition was founded in 2002, about the time the forest management revision process started.

    However, county commissioners from Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties do not support increasing the recommended wilderness area. Nor does the cattle industry. The Forest Service cited that opposition as a reason for reducing the amount of proposed wilderness.

    Russ Vaagen, vice president of Vaagen Brothers Lumber Co. and NEWFC board president, formally objected to the draft plan in a Nov. 6 letter. In the letter, he said the Forest Service’s decision was “skewed” by special interest groups.

    “The Colville National Forest belongs to all citizens of Washington and the United States,” he wrote. “Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille county commissioners represent just a tiny fraction of these citizens.”

    Later in the letter he said it’s unavoidable that locals will have “personal, financial interests” in what happens to federal land, but that those interests should “have no bearing on federal land management issues.”

    “It kind of undermines that collaborative spirit when you make a decision without really much explanation,” Petersen said. “It just looks like ‘Wow, you’re our public lands managers but you somehow went a different direction and didn’t really explain why.’ ”

    Other members of the NEWFC expressed their shock at the decision.

    “I can’t believe this,” said Tim Coleman, the executive director of the Kettle Range Conservation Group. “After all these years and all this investment and time and coming up with a compromise, and they’re going to do this to us.”

    As part of the compromise, the forest plan championed by NEWFC calls for increased logging on other parts of the Colville National Forest and building new trails for mountain bikers, motorcyclists and ATV riders, who would lose access to some trails if Congress approved new wilderness.

    That collaboration between industry and conservation groups was praised by Vicki Christiansen, the interim chief of the U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers during an August tour of the Colville National Forest where Vaagen Bros. are logging small-diameter trees.

    The Colville National Forest has one designated wilderness area – the 41,335-acre Salmo-Priest Wilderness, which represents 3 percent of the Colville National Forest’s 1.1 million acres.

    The U.S. Forest Service considered the various proposals and requests, said Franklin Pemberton, a spokesman for the agency. The 60,000 acres of proposed wilderness represents a compromise between conflicting interests.

    “The forest considered these comments by looking for areas where it made sense to reduce acres based on actual conditions on the ground (for example, noticeable past harvest activities and old roads, community water supplies),” he said in an email.

    For example, in some areas adjacent to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, the Forest Service “shaved acres off” because of conditions on the ground, he said.

    However, “to be responsive to groups that wanted more recommended wilderness, we added about 3,000 acres to the Bald Snow recommended wilderness,” Pemberton said.

    Wilderness areas such as the Salmo-Priest Wilderness must be created by an act of Congress. However, recommended wilderness areas have some management restrictions that other areas don’t. For instance, Forest Service personnel and volunteer groups can use chain saws to thin trees. In a designated wilderness, chain saws are prohibited. Additionally, mineral leasing is possible in recommended wilderness areas.

    And Forest Service personnel manage forest fires in both recommended and designated wilderness areas, despite a popular misconception that they can’t.

    For instance, the Forest Service sent smoke jumpers into the Salmo-Priest Wilderness area to fight a forest fire in 2017. They had chain saws but were forced to retreat when it became too dangerous.

    Commissioners from Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties believe the 1964 Wilderness Act does not allow addition of new lands and worry that more restrictions will reduce recreation and increase fire danger.

    “Our intention is to object to any designations of wilderness beyond what’s already in the forest,” Stevens County Commissioner Don Dashiell said.

    The 1964 act called for the secretary of agriculture to review, within 10 years, which lands are or are not suitable for a wilderness designation. According to the commissioners, lands not included in that decades-old analysis are not eligible for wilderness protection.

    According to the 1964 Wilderness Act, wilderness designations are for forests that have kept their “primeval” character, showing little influence of human activity. Logging and mining are prohibited in wilderness areas, as are chain saws, motor vehicles and mountain bikes.

    “If it wasn’t wilderness-compliant, then how could it get wilderness-compliant over time,” Dashiell said. “Once it’s not wilderness, how does it revert to wilderness.”

    However, Congress has voted numerous times since 1974 to create new wilderness areas. In 2008, the 106,577-acre Big Sky Wilderness was created in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest after five years of congressional debate.

    Washington state has a total of 4.5 million acres of federally designated wilderness.

    Creating new wilderness is usually a slow and politically fraught process.

    For more than a decade, Friends of the Scotchman Peaks built support in Idaho and Montana for a the creation of an 88,000-acre wilderness area spanning Idaho and Montana.

    This spring that effort was derailed – perhaps permanently – by a Bonner County advisory vote. Voters rejected the plan 5,672 to 4,831. Although that vote is not legally binding, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, chose not to reintroduce legislation that would have created the wilderness area following the vote.

    That decision essentially allowed Bonner County voters to decide a federal issue, said Petersen, of the Lands Council.

    “That kind of ignores that these are public lands,” he said. “It will be a new thing to pick up on. It does influence politicians.”

    Local control is at the core of the wilderness-or-no-wilderness debate in many ways.

    Johnna Exner, Ferry County Commission chairwoman, noted about 100,000 people live in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Her job, she said, is to represent their interests.

    “That’s the frustrating part, it ties our hands,” she said of the proposed wilderness designation.

    The cattle industry, a powerful group in the tri-county area, also opposes any new wilderness designation. There are 58 grazing allotments on the Colville National Forest covering 810,000 acres.

    In a letter objecting to the draft forest plan, the Washington State Cattleman’s Association said creating more wilderness and roadless areas would hurt ranchers. A wilderness recommendation would have a “long-lasting negative effect on livestock grazing,” the letter states.

    The Stevens County Cattleman’s Association also filed a letter objecting to the 60,000 acres of proposed wilderness, among other things.

    However, according to the Wilderness Act, cattle can remain in a wilderness area, although ranchers may have to leave their trucks behind.

    Altogether, 20 groups filed objections. Many of those objections touched on the wilderness proposal. However, objectors also raised concerns about riparian area regulations, decommissioning roads and other issues.

    A 90-day objection period opened Nov. 7 and likely will be extended, Pemberton said. Forest Service staff are reading the objections and “identifying issues.”

    Once that’s done the Forest Service will schedule meetings with with objectors and the reviewing official, Allen Rowley, the acting National Forest System associate deputy chief.

    The Forest Service hopes to have a resolution sometime in the spring, the Forest Service’s Pemberton said.

    The plan is intended to last for 15 years, although most plans remain in place much longer. The current Colville Forest management plan was drafted in 1988, and the review process started in 2003.

    For many involved in the years of collaboration, the setback threatens an unlikely alliance between industry and conservation.

    Working with the Vaagen Brothers was “unique” and a marked shift in strategy from earlier, more confrontational, environmental efforts, Petersen said. “A lot of it was trust-building,” he said. “It takes a long time to build trust, and you can blow it in a second.”

    Coleman, who was a founding member of the NEWFC, echoed Petersen’s concerns.

    “We want to maintain good relationships with the Forest Service,” he said. “But this particular problem is a creation of their own.”

  5. Sharon, Matthew K provides no meaningful discourse to this blog, please consider blocking him from posting for the betterment of civil discourse.
    -Thank You

    • Interesting comment Jim Ranscon. What “meaningful discourse to this blog” are you providing?

      For the record, when it comes to this blog post and the comments section on this blog post, about 98% of the words I placed here were written by someone else. Not only that, but the words mainly came from news articles and press releases directly related to the Colville National Forest Forest Plan process, all of which are publicly available. The comments to the reporter were not written by me, but by longtime forest and wildlife advocates, and they provide additional context directly related to this issue and the issue of USFS management.

      The fact that you ask Sharon to “consider blocking” me “from posting” says much more about you, Jim Ranscon, than it does about me. -Thank you

    • Jim, Matthew K is an important contributor to The Smokey Wire,, and he posts from a perspective we need, if we want to have many points of view. It happens that many of the press releases he posts are from folks who are trying to get people riled up, and use emotion-laden language, snark, and sometimes say things that are at least shading the truth, and at worst, not true. If he didn’t post them, we wouldn’t have the discussions we do trying to get at the other sides of the story. This discussion is one such example.

      • Um, thanks Sharon…I think.

        Of course, we could make a solid argument that:

        “Many of the press releases from Trump administration and other elected officials are trying to get people riled up, and use emotion-laden language, snark, and sometimes say things that are at least shading the truth, and at worst, not true.”

        Tim Colemn can certainly speak for himself, but are you claiming, Sharon, that something Tim Coleman said is “not true?” Also, what other details contained in press releases from forest and wildlife protection groups that I’ve posted here are “not true?”

        Does the timber industry put out information that “use emotion-laden language and sometimes say things that are at least shading the truth, and at worst, not true?”

        And for the record, I’ve not only been a contributor at this blog for about ten years, but I’m one of only a couple moderators for this blog, which means I’m one of the people that appears comments here. I’d estimate that I’ve been responsible for approving thousands and thousands of comments from other folks here (maybe even up to 50% of all comments submitted), including approving comments by anonymous people who call me names, make up stuff about me or say I should be blocked, censored and removed from this blog.

        • Yes, Matthew. My statement was not about Tim at all, it was just saying that when you post something from a group it is useful to know what people are thinking, despite that kind of language.

          And I’m not saying that interest groups of various kinds don’t do the same thing, and I’m certainly not saying that elected officials don’t. As Voltaire said “Is politics nothing other than the art of deliberately lying?”. My point was that you, Matthew, can’t be blamed for the tone or language of others whose opinions you post.

          I think that there is a spectrum between shading the truth and untruth. I think it never helps the discussion to call something an untruth and I usually don’t use that language- I say I disagree with the statement or the interpretation.

          Here is an example of something somewhere on the spectrum:

          NPCA says the Trump Administration is going to allow logging in national parks. This seems illegal, so I email their policy person and she says logging is on the table for the new National Monument in Maine (I think due to Mainers’ opinions, and not the Trump Administration, but that’s perhaps beside the point). I tell her that that’s not a National Park. She says it’s a National Monument in Maine—a park site managed by NPS, so saying it is a Park is not wrong. Is logging in National Parks an untruth, or am I being needlessly and tediously specific? You could make a case either way. It definitely, though, creates a different image in the mind (all National Parks) than one National Monument, which is not the case.. I’m sure that others can come up with examples. But my point stands.. people on all sides say things, and it’s our job at The Smokey Wire to tease out the different points of view and look at all angles. To fill that mission, sometimes we have to wade through rhetoric that is not to our liking.

          • Thanks Sharon. That’s an interesting example from Maine involving the NPCA….which I never posted on this blog, and never would.

            Again, here’s what you said about me: “He posts from a perspective we need, if we want to have many points of view. It happens that many of the press releases he posts are from folks who are trying to get people riled up, and use emotion-laden language, snark, and sometimes say things that are at least shading the truth, and at worst, not true. If he didn’t post them, we wouldn’t have the discussions we do trying to get at the other sides of the story. This discussion is one such example.

            I take extreme exception to your unfounded allegation about me, so I asked you politely to provide examples of things I’ve posted on this blog that are “not true.”

            Apparently your response was that NPCA said something sometime about something. OK, but again, I never posted that to this blog and never would’ve. Please don’t make ridiculous allegations that I post things on this blog that are not true unless you have solid evidence, OK? My request only seems fair and I’m asking it politely and respectfully. Thanks.

            • Matthew, I honestly didn’t realize that you think every one of the posts you posted, press releases. are completely free of untruths. That’s certainly not how I feel about what I’ve posted. But we can certainly look at that specifically going forward. Why I used the NPCA example is to show that people can differ in what they consider to be “the truth”. I feel that what they said was untrue. They feel differently. Clearly each one of us can define truth her or his own way.

              Given, we can start with the title of the post: I feel that the Colville National Forest Plan is not a “public disgrace” so that that is untrue. I have found that labeling statements along the “truth” spectrum is generally not a useful exercise but discussing the underlying facts is useful. I acknowledge that I did do that in my haste to support your contributions to TSW and I regret it.

              • For the record, I did not title this blog post. I simply used the title of the press release from the Kettle Range Conservation Group. I also clearly linked to their press release. Those are their words, not mine. Also, “public disgrace” is subjective, not objective. And if KRCG felt that way and said that, so be it.

                Here’s their press release again:

                Again, your NPCA example has zero to do with me. I would not at all, ever, refer to a National Monument as a National Park, as I know the difference.

                Finally, because I take extreme exception to your unfounded allegation about me, I’ve asked you politely a number of times to now to provide examples of things I’ve posted on this blog that are “not true.”

                Seems like you’re not coming up with anything at all, so please don’t ever say those things about me again. I’m not a lair. Thanks.

                • It is my view that deliberately leaving out factual information that doesn’t support your point of view and only presenting disjointed snippets from sources that does support your point of view is lying.

                  • Thanks for sharing your opinion Jim and making a very weak case that I am supposedly “lying.” Can you please tell us all what “factual information” I have allegedly “deliberately left out?”

                    Also, once you figure that out as it allegedly pertains only to me can you please go through the 28,000 comments on this blog and the thousands of blog posts here and make sure you hold everyone on this entire blog to the same standard? That should keep you busy for a long time, but it seems as if you have some time on your hands.

                    Jeez, glad I’ll be in a wall tent in the backcountry over the next four days so I don’t have to deal with some considerable BS coming from a couple of you folks.

                  • Ignoring 17 years of collaborative work is disgraceful. Promising to produce a forest plan based on collaborative input that ignores that input, is disgraceful.

                    “Leaving out factual information” ? You mean like the public record? A forest plan is a guiding document — not factual, project specific. What is factual is what is happening now on the ground and similar logging in the 5 year plan – do your homework the factual information is online – projected cut 100-150 mmbf/yr, 500,000+ acres “treated” in the next 20 years in the 1.1 million acres Colville National Forest. Factually: the Sherman Pass Project is scarring the landscape along a Scenic Byway and in full view of the Pacific NW National Scenic Trail. And, the claim made re the “highest timber cut in the country” was reported several times by FS agency staff at collaborative meetings this year.

                    “Lying to support your view” in this day and age, son, is called politics. Be more specific JimRascon – your claims are unspecified.

  6. I’m not sure how to interpret this statement in the post:

    The Colville has the highest timber volume production in the entire National Forest System.

    Perhaps it means they have the highest allowable cut? There are definitely national forests that produce/sell more timber than the Colville…

    • Hi, I reached out to Tim Coleman, and he said that at a bi-monthly meeting of the NEWFC the Forest Service reported the Colville National Forest had the largest cut in FY 2019.

      • This is totally false and can easily be checked by looking at the FS cut and sold reports. A lot of the other claims in Mr Coleman’s letter can be shown to be false as well by reviewing the EIS and plan documents. I don’t see anything related to “large areas of clear-cutting” as he claims.

      • Matthew you changed your post. You previously said:

        Hi, I reached out to Tim Coleman, and he said: “The Forest Service reported the Colville National Forest had the largest cut in FY 2019 – not making it up.”

        I think in the future it’s more helpful if you post a follow-up to the thread instead of changing your original post.

        • Yes, I edited my comment because after you commented I re-reached out to Tim Coleman and he informed me that the USFS provided that info at a bi-monthly meeting of the NEWFC. Yes, Tim also originally wrote to me and said “The Forest Service reported the Colville National Forest had the largest cut in FY 2019 – not making it up.”

          The link to the Kettle Range Conservation Group’s press release clearly lists Coleman’s phone number and email. I think in the future it’s more helpful if you have questions about what Tim said or wrote that you contact him directly. Thanks.

      • Ah – thanks for clarifying that. There were definitely other forests in Region 6 that had higher timber volumes sold in FY19 than the Colville. But the Colville did have the largest increase in volume sold in FY19 vs. other forests in R6.

  7. Just a few scattered comments.

    Over the last few decades is the any correlation between a wilderness recommendation by the Fs and eventual wilderness designation? What percentage of new designated wilderness were from recommended wilderness?

    Since getting wilderness designated has become more challenging in recent years, getting land recommended for wilderness seems to be an attempt to create wilderness administratively rather than through legislation. At least in Region One the trend has been to believe that the only way to maintain wilderness character is to manage it as wilderness. Since I think that only a fraction of recommended wilderness will get an official designation, my preference would be to liberal with recommendations, basically any roadless area over 5000 acres with a modicum of wilderness character, but also be less stringent with management.

    When NGOs work to get land protected and set aside elsewhere in the world they seem to recognize that getting buy in from locals is essential, but the does not seem to apply here within the US of A, and since for some reason most wilderness proposals are for landscapes in rural areas and most of the supporters are in urban areas this seems to exacerbate tensions. While locals should not have absolute veto over wilderness recommendations, they are the one most likely to be impacted. (And I imagine some people will argue that the bears, elk, and trout are the ultimate locals and that these people are just giving voice to these locals. Point taken)

    Finally it seems the success of any collaboration depends not only on finding consensus and compromise, but ensuring that the collaborative has broad enough backing from the interested parties that they can say they represent the community.

    • “What percentage of new designated wilderness were from recommended wilderness?”

      Would be very surprised if a significant portion of new designated wilderness was from anything but recommended wilderness. Also, should point out that over the past 34 years not very much Wilderness at all has been added to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

      On the flip side, there’s ample evidence of Wilderness-worthy ecosystems not being recommended for Wilderness by the land management agencies. See this post for just one example of that.

    • I think that 2 of the most recently designated wilderness areas in Oregon were not recommended wilderness – Devil’s Staircase in 2019 and Copper Salmon in 2009. The Colville Plan is the only revised Forest Plan in OR/WA. Recommended wilderness designations in Forest Plans aren’t very common in original forest plans (and there may not be any of those at all in existing OR/WA forest plans). I know that the Biscuit Fire EIS in Oregon in 2003 had a recommended wilderness as part of that decision, but I don’t think the Siskiyou Forest Plan was amended to make it a management area.

  8. I assume that the collaborative’s proposed wilderness areas are roadless, so will be managed under the Roadless Rule and are not suitable for timber production or road construction. As a result they should also continue to be eligible for wilderness designation. I think the weight given by Congress to Forest Service wilderness recommendations could depend on the validity of the process, and it is quite possible a poorly-done forest plan could carry less weight than a well-done collaborative recommendation. Wilderness designation decisions are more politics than science, and I think I have suggested before that it might be good to get rid of “recommended wilderness” as a management area and just decide where to manage to preserve a wilderness option (and of course what that means). That might defuse things a little and allow forest planners to focus on the issues where what they do makes a difference.

  9. False, please show me where? Look at the ROD, Appendix A. During a phone conference with Forest Plan Objectors, 10-21-19, Supervisor Smolden noted acres treated per year were increased in the ROD from 6-12K acres/yr to 18-25K acres/year to meet objectives and future actions in IRAs would be collaborative – re changes to Roadless Rule. Mr. Smolden directed objectors to review Appendix A to review these and other changes associated with Objection Resolution meetings.

    Recommended wilderness, Alternative P-M: 6% of Forest or 61,700 ac will be managed as wilderness out of 220,300 acres – or 20% of the Forest – but exceptions allowed include use of chainsaws and mountain bikes – ie. status quo.

    • As someone clearly directly involved and knowledgeable, and to save me the time of searching, and to address the claim above by WesternLarch, can you directly link us to where clearcutting is proposed on the Colville in their Forest Plan? Thus justifying the statement:
      “…The plan signals a significant increase in logging – including a large areas of clearcutting…”

      Thank you.

      Otherwise, the volume target/levels indicated need to be clearly documented and assessed by prescription. The Colville is a a dry, east side forest, and I can’t see why anyone would still think clearcutting those forests at an increased scale and pace would make sense.

    • Tim, Supervisor Smolden can propose actions in Roadless areas, but only those that conform to the Roadless Rule. Does that make sense? And what I would get from that is that those proposals for actions would be developed collaboratively.
      Recommended wilderness, is the status quo less desirable to you because there are MB’s in RW, or because the FS might develop trails where MBs are allowed… in other words are you for eliminating current use or not allowing future use?

      • The ROD refers to flexibility in IRA forest management. CNF said it collaborated on Sherman Pass Project – I agree and I was part of that process — but I never agreed to regen (clearcut) logging that has occurred in the project in the Hoodoo, Profanity nor Bald-Snow roadless areas — done under the ’88 Plan. The question really is, does collaboration result in agreement between FS and collaborators? Then ask yourself, why would the CNF stick their thumb in the eye of collaboration just before releasing their revised CNF LRMP? Is that just insensitivity, lack of coordination or the new CNF’s revised management direction? Well CNF said quite plainly it was their new direction – they are not “thinning from below” any longer. Lodgepole is the “wrong mix” – catastrophic wildfire risk is high wherever the CNF wants to log next. Most of the inventoried and adjacent non-inventoried roadless is lodgepole dominated (from 1929-34 fires) with mid-seral sub-alpine fir, spruce, red cedar, grand fir and LPP in the understory.

      • Roadless Rule allows for 1/4 mile temp road and fuels treatments, no? There are proposals in many places in the CNF for logging a 1/4 mile each side of existing roadway separating two or more IRAs to create shaded fuel-breaks.

        Trout Lake, San Poil, Boulder Park, Bulldog, etc, etc, are projects that are in the works — all have large regeneration treatment components. Check out their 5 year plan on the website.

        • Tim, no I don’t think so. Here is what the 2001 Roadless Rule says (couldn’t find it at FS site, so from Fed Reg..I could be wrong (!)

          Here are the road definitions- we always interpreted them to mean no temp roads:

          Road. A motor vehicle travelway over 50 inches wide, unless designated and managed as a trail. A road may be classified, unclassified, or temporary.
          (1) Classified road. A road wholly or partially within or adjacent to National Forest System lands that is determined to be needed for long-term motor vehicle access, including State roads, county roads, privately owned roads, National Forest System roads, and other roads authorized by the Forest Service.

          (2) Unclassified road. A road on National Forest System lands that is not managed as part of the forest transportation system, such as unplanned roads, abandoned travelways, and off-road vehicle tracks that have not been designated and managed as a trail; and those roads that were once under permit or other authorization and were not decommissioned upon the termination of the authorization.

          (3) Temporary road. A road authorized by contract, permit, lease, other written authorization, or emergency operation, not intended to be part of the forest transportation system and not necessary for long-term resource management.

          Road construction. Activity that results in the addition of forest classified or temporary road miles.

          Here is the road prohibition language.

          (a) A road may not be constructed or reconstructed in inventoried roadless areas of the National Forest System, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.

          (b) Notwithstanding the prohibition in paragraph (a) of this section, a road may be constructed or reconstructed in an inventoried roadless area if the Responsible Official determines that one of the following circumstances exists:

          (1) A road is needed to protect public health and safety in cases of an imminent threat of flood, fire, or other catastrophic event that, without intervention, would cause the loss of life or property;

          (2) A road is needed to conduct a response action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or to conduct a natural resource restoration action under CERCLA, Section 311 of the Clean Water Act, or the Oil Pollution Act;

          (3) A road is needed pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights, or as provided for by statute or treaty;

          (4) Road realignment is needed to prevent irreparable resource damage that arises from the design, location, use, or deterioration of a classified road and that cannot be mitigated by road maintenance. Road realignment may occur under this paragraph only if the road is deemed essential for public or private access, natural resource management, or public health and safety;

          (5) Road reconstruction is needed to implement a road safety improvement project on a classified road determined to be hazardous on the basis of accident experience or accident potential on that road;

          (6) The Secretary of Agriculture determines that a Federal Aid Highway project, authorized pursuant to Title 23 of the United States Code, is in the public interest or is consistent with the purposes for which the land was reserved or acquired and no other reasonable and prudent alternative exists; or

          (7) A road is needed in conjunction with the continuation, extension, or Start Printed Page 3273renewal of a mineral lease on lands that are under lease by the Secretary of the Interior as of January 12, 2001 or for a new lease issued immediately upon expiration of an existing lease. Such road construction or reconstruction must be conducted in a manner that minimizes effects on surface resources, prevents unnecessary or unreasonable surface disturbance, and complies with all applicable lease requirements, land and resource management plan direction, regulations, and laws. Roads constructed or reconstructed pursuant to this paragraph must be obliterated when no longer needed for the purposes of the lease or upon termination or expiration of the lease, whichever is sooner.

          (c) Maintenance of classified roads is permissible in inventoried roadless areas.

  10. the Plan outlines general parameters. Specific logging unit prescriptions – such as clearcutting / aka regeneration harvests, are specified at the project level. I will did into this doc and see if I can locate how many acres of regeneration harvest are proposed.

  11. The Colville NF is comprised of dry Douglas fir plant association groups as well and interior rainforest PAGs – it has highly variable forest ecological conditions. Even in dry forest zones, cool and warm mesic forest PAGs frequently occur – this has much to do with its northern location (near 49 north lattitude and interior / western Rocky Mountain location, Cascade Mountain rain shadow, cold snowy winters, hot dru summers and low to high elevations. Generally, the western CNF is drier than the eastern. The eastern CNF has some of the oldest and largest western red cedar. The western CNF, Kettle River Range, has large meadows of big sagebrush and is afterall the Rocky Mountains.

    • Ok, appreciate the nuances of the Colville’s ecology being explained, it is admittedly a NF that does not fall into a traditional wet/dry definition.

      Again, I’m hoping for clarification on this statement:
      “…The plan signals a significant increase in logging – including a large areas of clearcutting…”

      And as Anonymous stated above in response to my question on this:
      “…Specific logging unit prescriptions – such as clearcutting / aka regeneration harvests, are specified at the project level.”

      Where are the clearcut/regen harvests being prescribed? What are those stands like? Just looking for justification and explanation for claiming that large swaths of area on a NF will be clearcut. Acknowledging the nuances of the ecology of the Colville NF explained above, it would seem foolish if the Forest was really planning extensive clearcuts in a setting that does not lend to easy tree regrowth. Something on one side or the other doesn’t make sense to me so far.

  12. As the President of NEWFC I would like to say that not everyone feels the same way that Tim does. I completely understand where he’s coming from and support his ability to speak for himself and his organization.

    Tim and Kettle Range Conservation Group have been great members of our collaborative. The fact is, these forest planning processes are divisive. He’s right, we did collaborate for a long time to reach a consensus on the Forest Plan. However, due to the broad nature of the community involvement it attracted members of the public that weren’t as adept at the collaborative process and never got to the point where they dropped the positions and started talking about interests.

    I don’t have the same opinion of Colville National Forest Supervisor Rodney Smolden. Because of this planning process he was put in a very difficult position. If he were to agree to press forward with Wilderness levels supported by NEWFC members, all 9 county commissioners in the three counties affected and a number of groups would have all been adamantly opposed. The fact is, most were opposed to any additional Wilderness. I’m not making a judgment call, I’m just saying when you hear somewhere between 120,000 and 200,000 acres from a local collaborative and then zero from other community leaders including elected officials, 60,000 was an attempt at a compromise. Unfortunately that’s not popular, and it doesn’t work for anyone.

    If we are to be giving collaboration its due, we need to adjust this Forest Planning Process. It goes against collaboration and the collaborative process. It’s a disaster.

    I know we can agree to more Wilderness on the Colville, but more importantly we can agree to other designations that achieve the interests of conservation and other interested parties. The forest industry participants have already sent a signed letter to the Colville National Forest urging the agency NOT to pursue any projects that would involve logging in Inventoried Roadless Areas. This is a big win for Conservation. Since the letter, no projects have taken place in an IRA on the CNF. When the previous Forest Supervisor suggested some management of an IRA, it was immediately met with opposition from the Forest Industry participants.

    I’d also like to address the clear cutting. Tim is right, no one in NEWFC has been asking for Clear Cutting. It’s my opinion that the Forest Service has taken some liberties with some openings by making them too large and subsequently unsightly. I think it was a mistake on their part and these issues have been addressed. I’m hopeful that any future openings will be smaller and mimic natural disturbances. The VAST MAJORITY of the treatments on the CNF are restorative. That means that it’s dominated by thinning.

    The Forest Service leadership on the Colville NF and others need to continually revisit expectations of the members of the collaborative groups to ensure that they don’t take things too far. The social license to manage these forests can easily be revoked if the projects don’t consistently match the expectations of the collaborative groups.

    I’d also like to address the 25,000 acres of annual treatment. These acres are restorative in design. Over 20 years, that’s 500,000 acres of the 1.1 million acre Colville NF. That almost directly matches up with our collaborative plan to restore and manage about 491,000 acres (if memory serves) that have roads and have been managed in the past. There’s another layer of land between the front country or actively managed lands and potential Wilderness that may or may not need treatment. Therefore, the acreage of treatment isn’t surprising, so long as it’s completed in a way that meets public acceptance.

    Tim is a member in good standing with NEWFC and his disappointment is palpable. We’ve all done incredible work on the CNF. The fact that there’s a new Forest Plan now, signed by the Regional Forester, won’t change the fact that we will continue to collaborate. Collaboration has shaped the way we manage the forest and will continue to. That same collaboration will lead to solutions which I believe will include a completed Wilderness Bill and further solutions that will enhance conservation, recreation, and the economics of the forest. I just hope we don’t have to go through this process of Forest Planning again. It has no place in this modern era of collaboration and public involvement. If those efforts result in a need to alter the Forest Plan, the USFS should recognize it and alter the plan a step at a time rather than the whole thing.

  13. Russ Vaagen, thank you for these thoughtful reflections on Tim’s comments and the description of where collaboration has taken us. I could not agree more that the forest planning process is egregiously unfriendly to true collaboration. While I am not sure I would have come to the same conclusion as Supervisor Smolden, I have an intimate appreciation for the intractable nature of the conflicts that surfaced here. I share your hopes that future planning efforts reflect the work achieved by different interests that come together in the spirit of collaboration. I hope you will all continue the great work you’’re doing. {One correction: the prior Forest Supervisor never suggested ‘managing’ in IRAs}

    • I would agree that the “collaborative process” is egregiously unfriendly to the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and public lands management that is truly open, inclusive and transparent.

      Here’s an example of what I mean:

      In just Montana, there are at least 17 separate “collaborative” groups and processes dealing with just National Forest management in regards to logging. This is according to the Montana Forest Restoration Network. As we all know, these federal public lands belong equally to all Americans, not just to people in Montana. But for the sake of argument here, let’s just say that you are a Montana resident, or a Montana-based non-profit organization, with a deep interest in National Forest management. How in the world is one person, or a small non-profit groups, or a small logging operator, supposed to participate in at least 17 different collaborative groups and processes?

      While it may be easy for some industries, or well-funded groups, or retired people with lots of time on their hands, to drive around the state of Montana endlessly attending an endless number of meetings and field trips of 17 different collaborative groups that’s pretty much an impossibility for 99.99% of Montana residents and likely impossible for 99.9999999999% of the American people. So what does federal public lands management look like if we eliminate open, inclusive and transparent processes as found within NEPA and NFMA and simply relegate management direction to those who attend a bunch of endless meetings in far-flung places?

  14. The Roadless Rule does allow for temp road and timber harvest in Inventoried Roadless Areas:

    Federal Register/ Vol. 66, No. 9 / Friday, January 12, 2001 / Rules and Regulations
    Forest Service36 CFR Part 294RIN 0596–AB77
    Special Areas; Roadless Area Conservation
    AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.ACTION: Final rule and record of decision

    § 294.12 Prohibition on road construction and road reconstruction in inventoried roadless areas.(a) A road may not be constructed or reconstructed in inventoried roadless areas of the National Forest System, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.(b) Notwithstanding the prohibition in paragraph (a) of this section, a road maybe constructed or reconstructed in an inventoried roadless area if the Responsible Official determines that one of the following circumstances exists:(1) A road is needed to protect public health and safety in cases of an imminent threat of flood, fire, or other catastrophic event that, without intervention, would cause the loss of life or property;(2) A road is needed to conduct are a response action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or to conduct a natural resource restoration action
    Under CERCLA, Section 311 of the Clean Water Act, or the Oil Pollution Act;….

    § 294.13 (b) Notwithstanding the prohibition in paragraph (a) of this section, timber maybe cut, sold, or removed in inventoried roadless areas if the Responsible Official determines that one of the following circumstances exists. The cutting, sale, or removal of timber in these areas is expected to be infrequent.(1) The cutting, sale, or removal of generally small diameter timber is needed for one of the following purposes and will maintain or improve one or more of the roadless area characteristics as defined in § 294.11.(i) To improve threatened, endangered, proposed, or sensitive species habitat; or(ii) To maintain or restore the characteristics of ecosystem composition and structure, such as to reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire effects, within the range of variability that would be expected to occur under natural disturbance regimes of the current climatic period;(2) The cutting, sale, or removal of timber is incidental ….

    • Thanks for continuing to chime in and share your perspective and important context, Tim. We’ve been over the Roadless Rule so many times on this blog it amazes me that some people are still confused by what it does, and doesn’t allow.

    • Tim, you said “Roadless Rule allows for 1/4 mile temp road and fuels treatments, no? There are proposals in many places in the CNF for logging a 1/4 mile each side of existing roadway separating two or more IRAs to create shaded fuel-breaks.”

      I said no temp roads for fuel treatments, and cutting has to meet the “risk of uncharacteristic wildfire effects” which is debatable -“current climatic period” and so on. I am not saying there can’t be tree cutting for fuel treatments under the 2001 because of 294.11 ii, but I am saying that there are no temp roads, as the threat is not “imminent” and CERCLA is not relevant to fuel treatments.

      If in your example, the road is not in Roadless itself, and the temp roads are outside of Roadless, well then that is OK by the Rule.

      Perhaps some FS units are using “imminent threat” but I personally have not seen it. And clearing that up was one of the objectives of clarifying fuels treatments in the Colorado Roadless Rule. (see posts on that)

      In my experience, the lack of temp roads has a limiting effect of selling trees from fuel treatments, although not necessarily cutting them (lop and scatter, burn piles), because of no temp roads. They have to be yarded to landings outside of Roadless which is limiting. UNLESS it is in an area that has roads (substantially altered) but that would be a different kettle of fish entirely.

  15. Over many years I’ve had to watch how the US Department of Forestry conducts business, allegedly for the best interests of the American people. You all that are interested in this subject of logging pretty know what I’m talking about: from logging to water rights leasing, to conservation and fire management, consistently show their actions lead to the conclusion that they do not act in our best interest. Time and time again decisions, and non-decisions, made makes a lot of people shake their heads and wonder ‘who is running this circus?’
    Lots of people know of other examples of what I’m alluding to, so I’ll cut to the chase and not bring them up here. But If their gonna rape the forests with all this clear cutting, selling our trees most likely below market value, and water right leases for commercial exploitation, don’t ya think they could, at the very least provide sections of these logging areas where the working men and women of this community would be able to have access to some of this wood so as to heat their homes during the winter ? And maybe, just maybe they would get some paltry action taken on their behalf that would give the people a small return on their tax dollars and have something to show for it for a change. Also, kick in the abolishment of that mickey mouse adventure pass crap that nobody cares about and which is only a poorly disguised example of double taxation in it purest form.


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