The update is between the asterisks below.
Matthew posted this E&E news story about the Alaska agreements, and the Inspector General report requested by Congressfolk Grijalva and Stabenow. Now Coloradans may remember that Grijalva’s investigations don’t always turn out so well, as when he went after University of Colorado college professor/scientist, Roger Pielke, Jr. by writing to the university president Here’s a link.
My experience with Colorado Roadless was that it was a full-court press by many national environmental groups (I hadn’t worked on a project targeted by Pew before or since) and coverage in the media tended to be one-sided. I’ve still got some traplines out on some details, so will report back if something changes.
The State and the Forest Service cooperatively shall:
Establish a State-Forest Service Executive Steering Committee to coordinate the various aspects of implementation of the rulemaking process and the State and Forest Service involvement in NEPA Interdisciplinary teams;
Establish and maintain clear lines of communication, working through the principal contacts;
Cooperate in the development of specific regulatory language for a proposed state-specific rule to establish management direction for Alaska roadless areas;
Jointly develop a detailed work plan that sets out required action steps, milestones, and time frames associated with all aspects of this rulemaking effort;
Cooperate in the preparation of analyses and documentation, development of the description of the proposed action and any alternatives, and the compilation of any required ecological, social, and economic resource information associated with this state-specific roadless rulemaking; and
Coordinate the development of the proposed state rule with the existing land management planning efforts in progress within the State of Alaska.
Again, I don’t know how Idaho did it, but in Colorado we had a memorandum of understanding but no challenge cost-share. My memory is that our state-led Task Force was funded by the State and the national advisory team (RACNAC) funded by the WO (meetings and travel). The FS paid the way of the State employees to attend RACNAC meetings. RACNAC disbanded after Idaho and Colorado, so the Alaska process has only the State advisory committee.
Let’s see how it’s characterized in the news story:
Alaskan officials have no right to waste taxpayer money weakening a rule that protects the Tongass and the public owners of the land,” Grijalva said in a statement. “Congressionally appropriated funds need to be used as they were intended, not to prop up efforts to open more of our national forests to extraction at public expense.”
So conceivably according to Grijalva, neither Colorado nor Idaho Roadless should have been funded (my memory is that they were planning dollars used).
But did they do anything different with the money than Idaho or Colorado? Let’s look at what they say in the agreement.
$250,000 in personnel services to be utilized by DOF senior management proportionally to their involvement in the project.
$43,775 indirect charge on personnel services@ 17.51%.
$1,706,225 in contractual expenses to convene and facilitate a group with a diverse mix of state-specific interests to inform the State’s input as a cooperating agency in the rule making process.
If the State asked for info from industry, that might have come out of their half of the match (remember this kind of agreement requires a match, so the State put 2 mill in and so did the Feds).
As far as I know, in Colorado, we never paid the salaries of the many State officials, from wildlife biologist (who did a great deal of work) to the Director of Natural Resources (ditto), who spent time on the Rule. In our case, the State funded Meridian to help design the public involvement process and facilitate the FS meetings (one of the best investments possible IMHO).
Federal forestry grants are typically used to help reduce wildfire risks, to fight pests and diseases, and for similar purposes. Using the money to influence federal policymakers on a major forest management regulation is an unusual choice, critics said.
The Alaska Wilderness League’s legislative director, Leah Donahey, said directing funds typically used on wildfire measures to logging lobbyists is a “betrayal of the public trust.”
My latest information suggests that the $ did not come from from planning, but from state and private forestry $. Here’s a link to Coop Forestry, which is the bucket of money that seems to fit it most.
The unnamed critics cited in the article are apparently not familiar with the wide variety of grants and cooperative agreements that the FS supports. Still, I don’t think the $ were used to “lobby” -clearly they didn’t need to be, as it’s pretty clear where the Gov and the Congressfolk stood on this issue (exemption). Sidenote: previous Undersecretary for the Forest Service Jim Lyons was heard to say about Urban and Community Forestry grants (part of Coop Forestry) that “the authorities were so broad you could drive a truck through them.”
So there may be nothing to see here, really. In Colorado, we didn’t pay anyone to help us figure out what people wanted (coal, ski folks, etc.) , but then on the other hand it might not be as complicated or time-consuming to say “we want to extend the mine below the surface here” or “we wish you’d take out those acres within our ski area permit.” The way I look at it is they actually needed to know for the analysis how much is economic to log and where, because that is the most important reason why in some minds, the 2001 hasn’t worked for them. Reasonable people could disagree whether the Association should have donated the work, or the State should have paid them for it.
The news stories also seem to conflate “spending $ for analysis and meetings” with “determining the outcome.” That is indeed a separate process as we saw in the Governor speaks to the President story.