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Joint NEWFC/CNF Meeting – August 21, 2008

Next NEWFC/CNF meeting: Oct. 16, 1 pm, Stevens County Conservation District

Joint NEWFC/CNF Bi-monthly Meeting Minutes – Revised Minutes

August 21, 2008

CNF Attending: Karen Mollander, Rodney Smolden, Jean Lavell, Margaret Hartzell; Sarah Newman, Don Gonzales, Tom Pawley, Franklin Bremerton, John Bueller, Dave Bostick

Attending board members: Lloyd McGee (president), Jeff Juel, Tim Coleman (secretary); Claudia Michalke (executive director); Ron Gray (treasurer); Steve West, David Heflick, Maurice Williamson, Russ Vaagen

Absent NEWFC Board Members: Phil Carew, Derrick Knowles, Bob Playfair, Mike Petersen, Dick Dunton

Other participants: Commissioner Joe Bond, Commissioner Tony Delgado, John Eminger, Phil Aune, Sheila Stalp, Ken House, Jim Berkel

Agenda:

1. Lloyd - NEWFC update

2. Karen – Fire budget impacts

3. Margaret / Karen – wilderness collaborative

4. Monitoring work

5. Disabled Hunter Grant

6. Non-collaborative guidelines

7. LIDAR

8. Colville overflight

9. Salvage discussions

10. Project update

1. NEWFC Update

NEWFC is looking into getting a grant from US Endowment for Forestry and Communities of $2.1 M over a 4 year period and includes matching funds. NEWFC has held outreach breakfasts and luncheons in Colville, Republic and Spokane with upcoming lunch in Newport.

2. Budget impacts

Congress allocates funds based on 10-year average firefighting costs. Anti-Deficiency Act doesn’t allow FS to spend more money than Congress allocates. 2008 has been a bad fire year, eating up all available funds. Each national forest has been asked to give back budget funds to help cover fire costs. R-6’s total is $24M with CNF portion $330K. There will not be any huge impacts of this dollar transfer. There will be slight delays in letting contracts for trail clearing (a bit more than 50% will come from recreation).

Q. What happens if there are vacancies – how is that accounted for in this process?

A. It’s all part of the current calculation. CNF has all the same employees it had before the funds transfer and we still have gas money.

Q. Is there a requirement to file a report with Congress about budget allocations?

A. Yes.

Comment: it would be nice if the Forest Service had talked to the Coalition about this situation before making a decision in order to give us an opportunity to provide comment. Rick wants NEWFC to alert him of our actions and if would be nice to have reciprocation.

3. Wilderness collaborative

Press release announcing the process was sent out today electronically and to press in the coming week. The first one is 9-6 in Colville at the Ambulance Training Center. Update from forest planning up to current time. Spokane will be held 9-12. Rodney will be the one line officer providing continuity at all meetings. Local “place-based” meetings will focus on county IRAs (backyard).

Q. Will there be public testimony at first Colville meeting and in Spokane?

A. Margaret: no, there will just be a presentation of facts and process and people will have to decide if they want to travel to “place-based” meetings. At none of the meetings will there be testimony, just notes, and notes will only be taken at the “place based” meetings. Website comments and personal letters are of equal value.

Q. If there was enough interest from Spokane at the informational meetings could there be a place-based follow-up meeting?

A. Yes, we are always open to meeting with individuals or groups.

Q. What is the meeting structure and how will comments be captured?

A. Meetings structure will provide participants to give their opinion in safe environment. Our facilitators know the subject matter and can help keep the process on track. We are going to encourage people to roll up their sleeves and look for opportunity to talk to each other.

Q. How is collaboration defined in this process? Is this different than past processes?

A. The geographic scale of 5 million acres that this process is evaluating and has been very challenging. We have asked advice of FS professionals across the country and there hasn’t been any good answers. 15 to 20 years ago our (FS) process was different.

Q. Are the evaluations on the website?

A. Yes. It is important to understand these are not decisions but merely an assessment of things like wildlife, landforms, recreation, etc.

Q. To what extent is the Forest Service going to allow “horse trading” in this process?

A. Workshops will be a place for people to talk to each other; keep people on wilderness topic – but we are only refereeing to the extent is a safe and open discussion. Karen: “these will not be the be all and end all discussion.” Margaret: these meetings are one step in the process that will help us draft the forest plan. There will be plenty of opportunities over the next two years for the public to get involved in this process.

Q. Have county commissioners been involved?

A. We interviewed county commissioners and have looked to county commissioners to be involved in this process.

Q. The timing of this process is a concern. After the election would be better.

A. Karen has received that information and decided to go ahead with meetings.

Q. The CNF ran out of money it wasn’t that the injunction delayed the process, true?

A. Margaret: yes, we did run out of money and when we were planning to get the process moving the injunction prevented us from having that process,

Q. If, as Margaret said, the public will have two years to give input on wilderness why must this process be held now?

A. No answer.

4. Monitoring report

There were some surprises in the field. One is that not as much material was removed as NEWFC felt could have been. There is a proposal to hold field tours the week of October 6th.

5. Disabled hunter grant

Dave Bostick handed out a report. Funding comes from a combination of Disabled Hunter Grant and Disable Hunter Access Grant. Forest Service was getting complaints from disabled hunters. FS created a working group in Jan 08 to identify new routes, current routes, investigate procedures, look for improvements and potential changes. May field tours were successful. Participants were asked to help evaluate proposed routes. A list of recommended routes were presented to Leadership Team in June, and the next step is to go through NEPA. Some road maintenance / route upgrade has been done this summer on two routes; USAF also did some maintenance on another route, and on 9-6 will be working on a fourth route. Beginning this Monday the FS will begin taking requests for access – which is controlled. This action has doubled the length of DH hunting season. Monitoring will take place to determine potential impacts of DH use to wildlife. This fall/winter we will be working on brochures and with tourism specialists to get their input. A request for comment was sent out last week and will run through 9-7 and depending on comments new routes might be open by late deer season.

Q. What is the definition of disabled hunter?

A. We go with state regulations – if hunter can get a state disabled hunter permit then he/she can gain access. About half the hunters come from out of state.

6. NEWFC policy guidelines

We are developing a set of uniform guidelines but we have yet to complete our analysis. These guidelines (old growth, roads, thinning, etc.) will not be a yes or no and will hopefully help improve efficiency of collaborative process. If the Forest Service decides to follow guidelines in units there will be no need for the CNF to collaborate with NEWFC on those units.

Q. What are examples of how it works?

A. Look at Malo-Eastlake as an example – we worked through a lot of things that we will not have to discuss in the Pierre-Summit project – it’s an iterative process. An example is the Coalition’s previous opposition to any old growth forest thinning but during MEL and working with scientists Dave Perry and Jerry Franklin we determined that old growth thinning was appropriate in some cases.

7. LIDAR

It’s not aerial photography but instead aerial imaging, very accurate at measuring distances and in registering terrain and vegetation. CNF hired a company to do Sherman Byway and Walker Project – flight was completed in June. Tom Pawley is still working with the data. PNW Research is also putting in tenth-acre plots – about 60 of them done and 40 more planned on CNF (and 20 on state lands).

Q. Can you prioritize Pierre-Summit since CNF/NEWFC is working on this project?

A. Yes.

8. NEWFC flight over the forest

The coalition took plane rides over the forest to investigate what wilderness would look like. There is a reason a lot of those areas don’t have roads – they are steep terrain – it would be not be cost effective to log IRAs.

Q. Are there any IRAs that you are going to question – places where you found something that you want to talk about?

A. There were some areas not in IRAs that we wondered why they weren’t inventoried. Some areas were really obvious like Abercrombie-Hooknose.

9. Salvage discussions

Fred has decided to pursue blowdown next to (behind) Back Lakes. NEWFC is working on defining what is acceptable and industry meeting with industry will do the same. Jim Parker is talking to R-6 to see what is acceptable. Maurice reminded all that R-6 wasn’t going to permit salvage until the Coalition came up with a plan.

10. Project update

Don handed out a list of projects. Dave asked if he could get a shape file of project boundaries? Don: yes.

Q. What has happened with Bangs and other potential pulp units?

A. No one has given Jean units to go look at. There are 5 projects being considered.

Q. Will Hanlon have a Tribal Forest Protection Act portion to it?

A. Yes. We have a lot of support from the Tribe.

Q. Are there two separate decisions about forest planning.

Yes. Draft in march 2010