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KFA Activist Suggests 'Ground-Truthing'
|Kyle Haines of the Klamath Forest Alliance explains the Northwest Forest Plan at a workshop held March 12th in Mount Shasta. Haines spoke about how the public can monitor and have input into timber harvest plans.|
MT SHASTA - Kyle Haines of the Klamath Forest Alliance held an environmental activist training session March 12th providing an overview of the Northwest Forest Plan and how citizens can watchdog and intervene in forest issues.
The KFA is an organization active in numerous environmental issues in southern Oregon and northern California. The workshop was hosted by the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center at their office in Mount Shasta.
Haines said the purpose of the workshop was to "figure out how to interface with agencies and what to comment on."
"The more eyes and the more people writing stuff, the better," Haines said. "You have the right to speak. People will say you shouldn't be doing this or you're a commie. Tell them you're on good constitutional grounds."
Haines noted the process of commenting on forest issues and dealing with government agencies is "not necessarily adverse."
He began the workshop with an overview of the Northwest Forest Plan that was implemented in 1994. The plan is an attempt to balance conflicts over timber, spotted owls, native salmon, old growth and late successional trees, habitats and the need for jobs.
The plan covers approximately 24 million acres in western Washington, Oregon and northern California.
Haines said the NFP is a "decent compromise."
He said the plan's key components are land allocations, aquatic conservation strategy and riparian reserves.
The land allocations are as follows:
-- Late successional reserves - These areas are identified with an objective to protect and enhance conditions of late successional and old growth forest ecosystems that serve as habitats for forest related species including the spotted owl. Limited stand management is permitted;
-- Managed late successional areas - Similar to the late successional reserves, these areas allow certain silviculture and fire treatments to prevent fires, disease or insect epidemics;
-- Riparian reserves - These areas are located along streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes. Cutting of trees is limited to treatment of forest stands to maintain suitable habitat conditions for fish and aquatic species;
-- Adaptive management areas - Ten adaptive management areas have the objective of developing and testing new management approaches to integrate and achieve ecological and economic health;
-- Congressionally reserved areas - These areas include wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, and national monuments;
-- Administratively withdrawn areas - These areas include recreational, visual, back country and other areas where management emphasis precludes scheduled timber harvest; and
-- Matrix - These areas are the primary areas where timber is harvested.
Haines said the the aquatic conservation strategy was developed to restore and maintain the ecological health of watersheds and aquatic ecosystems.
"It's a big piece of the plan," Haines said.
Key components of the aquatic conservation strategy are:
-- Riparian reserves - Lands along streams and unstable and potentially unstable areas where special standards and guidelines direct land use;
-- Key watersheds - A system of large refugia comprising watersheds that are crucial to at-risk fish species and stocks, and provide high quality water;
-- Watershed analysis - Watershed analysis provides the basis for monitoring and restoration programs and the foundation from which riparian reserves can be delineated; and
-- Watershed restoration - A comprehensive, long-term program of watershed restoration to restore watershed health and aquatic ecosystems including the habitats supporting fish and other aquatic and riparian-dependent organisms.
Haines said "ground-truthing" is the most effective way to monitor and comment on timber sales.
Ground-truthing involves going into a proposed timber harvest area and seeing for oneself what the effects will be and what the analysis may have missed and making those observations known to the appropriate agencies.
"We have a responsibility to ground-truth timber sales," Haines said.
Haines used Bark's Guide to Ground-Truthing Timber Sales as the resource for monitoring and commenting on timber sales. Bark is an environmental watchdog organization based in Oregon.
Bark suggests staying aware of timber sales by monitoring local Forest Service announcements and publications, getting maps of the harvest areas and visiting the areas, and documenting where the harvest plan may be in error, violate the law or cause problems with the environment.
Public participation has the following four phases:
-- Scoping - This a a general call for written comments. Harvest plans are often vague at this point. The official scoping period is 30 or 45 days, but can go on for years as agencies prepare Environmental Assessments or Environmental Impact Statements;
-- Comments - With the completion of an EA or EIS the comment period begins. For an EA it is 30 days, for an EIS 45. The harvest plan at this point will be detailed including proposed roads, justification for the harvest and environmental effects. Comments are written and delivered to the appropriate agency;
-- Appeal - If the Forest Service does not accept the changes suggested by comments, the public can appeal up to 45 days of the official decision. Appeals are made directly to the agency; and
-- Lawsuits - These are almost always filed by organizations.
For more information on ground-truthing a proposed timber harvest, visit Bark's www.bark-out.org.
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