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Board Meeting – September 24, 2009

NEWFC Board – Minutes

October 15, 2009

NRCS Conference Room

Next NEWFC meetings will be November 17
– this will be a joint meeting with the Forest Service.

Attending board: Lloyd McGee (president), Steve West, David Heflick, Ron Gray (secretary), Tim Coleman (secretary); Jeff Juel, Claudia Michalke (executive director), Maurice Williamson, Dick Dunton (a quorum was present)

Absent Board Members: Bob Playfair, Derrick Knowles, Russ Vaagen, Phil Carew, Mike Petersen

Others attending: Russ Larsen, Steve DeCook, Cliff Thresher

Agenda

1. Minutes review/approval

2. Treasurer’s Report

3. Executive Committee Report

4. Education & Public Relations Committee Report

5. Forest Health Assistance Program

6. East Wedge Project

7. Projects Update

8. Letter re Forest Supervisor replacement

9. Other

 

1. Minutes – Dick motioned and Ron seconded to approve. (approved)

2. Treasurer’s Report – Current checkbook balance is $1,783.71. There is $4879.38 still on deposit for the Disabled Hunter Project. This grant will cover a $1,000 expense to Stevens County Conservation District for financial management, $800 to Claudia for hunter monitoring report and $3079.38 to the Forest Service for cost and installation of three gates on the disabled hunter trials. Note: this was a change in direction from the previous minutes.

Motion: Maurice moved and Jeff seconded to approve the Treasurer Report (approved).

3. Executive Committee Report

Mike Petersen requested a change in board meetings from the third Thursday of the month as he has a conflict every month. The board decided the next meeting is to be held Tuesday, December 15.

Tim gave a brief summary of the Colville Roundtable, held October 2. There is a second meeting scheduled for October 26. The Roundtable came about after the Spokane Forum, August 14, featuring NEWFC’s collaborative successes and co-sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Both legislators want to the collaborative dialogue to continue through the Roundtable. There is some interest in putting maps on the table from the various interest groups at the next meeting.

Lloyd met with Linda Fee (Acting Deputy Forest Supervisor and Rodney Smolden (Acting Forest Supervisor) this week. They reported about a teleconference with Regional Forester Mary Wagner during which it was decided priorities are to continue support 1) the collaborative process, 2) keeping with project timelines; 3) keeping the forest planning process on track. Rodney will only be acting supervisor until January 2010 at which time the new forest supervisor is to be in place. Ms. Wagner said she will ensure that Rick Brazell’s replacement will continue the collaborative process. Rodney also spoke briefly about the East Wedge Project.

There has been an appeal of the Summit-Pierre Project by Tri-County Motorized Recreation Association. This appeal has effectively shut this project down until it is resolved by Mary Wagner. TCMRA’s concern is that access to them is being closed off. The board discussed the issue and apparently their concerns are unsubstantiated as only existing Level 1 (closed / not open to ORV) roads are to be restored to make way for construction of new roads. The Coalition made an exception to their ‘no new roads policy’ in this case because the project would result in a net benefit to the watershed.

4. Education & Public Relations Committee Report

Lloyd suggested that NEWFC hold a membership drive seeking new board members. This issue will be taken up at the next Executive Committee meeting and brought to the Board if further action is needed. Ron asked if we had contacted Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. RMEF helped fund the Disabled Hunter Project. Ron will look into getting RMEF representation on the Board.

The committee approved and sent to weekly papers a press release regarding Rick Brazell’s award “Riding the Brand” which he presented to NEWFC during the 9-24-09 meeting between NEWFC and Forest Service. The committee is also investigating other press opportunities. The committee is looking into advertising opportunities which it will submit for approval to the Executive Committee at the appropriate time.

5. Forest Health Assistance Program

The WA Dept. of Natural Resources gave a presentation about this program.

Steve DeCook (DNR): There are 20 projects, 5,200 acres total across the region. Primary project emphasis is WUI fuel (fire risk) reduction. Total project cost is about $4M – DNR anticipates spending about $350-400K per project. Actions include tree pruning, slash disposal and burning on private lands. When money becomes available there is first a meeting with commissioners, fire districts and local DNR staff to determine which areas are highest priority. Priority determination is primarily by the number of structures. Next, there is outreach to landowners to determine what properties will receive treatment. Only two projects are underway at this time (one in Pend Oreille near Newport and one in Ferry (Malo-Eastlake) area). Not yet sure how commercial products will be dealt with. Projects are small, approximately 1 acre each. There is some owner-match requirement depending on funding source.

Cliff Thresher (DNR): Fuels reduction emphasis. In fuels treatment there is a much higher likelihood that some commercial aspects are involved – if commercial products are to be removed then an FPA is required. Current public demand outstrips the funds for NE WA. There is a waiting list. DNR uses a scoring process to rank projects: 1) is the area part of the county wildfire protection plan, 2) is there public infrastructure nearby, and 3) number of homes involved. Emphasis is urban interface. A separate budget for >20 acre lands is in cost share from 50% up to 100% - again based on scoring process.

6. East Wedge Project

The Forest Service and the Conservation District signed a contract with Claudia to work as a contractor for this pilot project because she is the only person around the area who has prior contracting experience necessary to oversee this project. The Forest Service is going to issue a press release about the project in the near future. This is a three-phase project. The Stevens County Conservation District (SCCD) was charged with finding unacceptable forest health conditions in the project area. Maurice Williamson (carrying out scoping) and Brett Winterrowd (doing transportation inventory) were hired part-time by SCCD through the end of October to carry out the first phase of the work.

NEWFC is providing technical assistance in carrying out Phase I of the project. The Coalition is not receiving any direct payment for its work but rather its volunteer time is being used to match grant dollars going to carry out the project. This is a unique joint venture between the Forest Service, SCCD and NEWFC. The project is to: 1) evaluate the WUI to determine what is necessary to minimize crown fires, where to construct fire breaks and what is needed to reduce risk of fire spreading into Canada; 2) improve forest health using pre-commercial and commercial forest treatments, 3) recruit woody debris in streams, 4) reduce impacts from roads, 5) evaluate and treat areas for wildlife to maintain and enhance meadows for mule deer (which will also improve forage overall).

7. Projects Update

Hanlon: The EA is forthcoming at which time the Taskforce will review and determine whether we will send a letter of support.

Summit-Pierre: Lloyd proposed the coalition send the Forest Service a letter describing the conditions under which the coalition would give a high level of support. (Note: this is the same process we followed in past situations.) A vote of approval was give by the Taskforce Committee at their last meeting.

Motion: Dave made a motion to give Summit-Pierre a high level of support based on the EA and that all our common ground agreements were accurately portrayed in that document – Ron seconded. (passed – unanimously)

8. Forest Supervisor replacement letter

Lloyd handed out a draft letter to Chief Tidwell and Secretary Vilsack asking them to fill the Colville National Forest supervisory position as quickly as possible and with someone skilled in community collaboration. The board discussed the letter. Lloyd asked members to send comments to Lloyd.

Motion: Jeff made a motion to approve sending a letter to Secretary Vilsack and Chief Tidwell after amendments are incorporated from the board via email - Tim seconded. (passed – unanimously)

Adjourned @ 3:15 PM