SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COMMITTEE OF SCIENTISTSNATIONAL FOREST PLANNING
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FOREST AND FOREST HEALTH
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
MARCH 16, 1999, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10615
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on Resources
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/house
Committee address: http://www.house.gov/resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
MIKE SIMPSON, Idaho
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
GEORGE MILLER, California
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-CHRISTENSEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
JAY INSLEE, Washington
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MARK UDALL, Colorado
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Forest and Forest Health
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho, Chairman
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ADAM SMITH, Washington
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
RON KIND, Wisconsin
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MARK UDALL, Colorado
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
DOUG CRANDALL, Staff Director
ANNE HEISSENBUTTEL, Legislative Staff
JEFF PETRICH, Minority Chief Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held March 16, 1999
Statements of Members:
Chenoweth, Hon. Helen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Idaho
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCStatements of witnesses:
Banzaf, William, Executive Vice President, Society of American Foresters
Bierer, Bob, Director, Forest Management, American Forest and Paper Association
Prepared statement of
Dombeck, Mike, Chief, U.S. Forest Service
Prepared statement of
Floyd, Don, Chairman, Task Force on Public Lands Legislation, Society of American Foresters
Prepared statement of
Johnson, K. Norman, Chairman, Committee of Scientists
Prepared statement of
Lyons, James R., Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Prepared statement of
Munson, Mary, Senior Associate, Habitat Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Sustaining the People's Land, Synopsis, etc.
OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COMMITTEE OF SCIENTISTSNATIONAL FOREST PLANNING
TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 1999
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Forests and
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCommittee on Resources,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:50 p.m., in Room 1334, Longworth, Hon. Helen Chenoweth [chairwoman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. HELEN CHENOWETH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Committee on Forests and Forests health will come to order.
The Subcommittee is meeting today to hear testimony on the Committee of Scientists' National Forest planning. Under rule 4(g) of the Committee rules, any oral opening statements at hearings are limited to the chairman and the Ranking Minority Member. This will allow us to hear from our witnesses sooner and help other members keep to their schedules. Therefore, if other members have statements, they can be included in the hearing record under unanimous consent.
Today the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health convenes to hear from the administration's Committee of Scientists, which was chartered by Secretary Glickman in 1997 to recommend changes to the Forest Service's land and resource management planning process. The agency itself initiated a critique of its planning process in the late 1980's and began drafting new regulations to improve and streamline its procedures shortly thereafter. Its goal was to develop new procedures before it was time to begin revising its 10-year management plans.
Unfortunately, the new planning regulations never saw the light of day. After many delays, this administration appointed a Committee of Scientists to develop recommendations for the Forest Service to follow. Now, originally due in March or April of last year, then in September, then planned for release in February, the report was finally released yesterday.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Based on a preliminary review of the administration's committee of Scientists' report, I am struck with mixed feelings. Now, while the Committee has, obviously, put a lot of hard work and thinking into this document, I still can't help but feel that the committee's recommendations are a recipe for the status quo, which means a continuation of gridlock, red tape, continued controversy, and more difficult plan implementation with fewer on-the-ground results.
But, despite its good intentions, the committee's recommendations do not resolve a number of problems that have been identified since the Forest Service first conducted its critique. The 1982 regulations focus largely on the development, amendment, and revision of plans, but provide no direction for plan implementation. Forest plans are not based on realistic budgets, so the Forest Service is unable to fully implement them and adequately monitor the results. The public involvement procedures have not reduced the level of controversy over plan decisions. The ''viability provisions'' in the 1982 regulations have proven difficult to implement, setting a higher standard than the Endangered Species Act, and going beyond the intent and meaning of the diversity requirement in the National Forest Management Act. Appeals and litigation have greatly increased the time and cost of planning, both for forest plans and for projects designed to implement the plans, without substantially altering Forest Service decisions.
While I am disappointed with the overall results, I believe some of the committee's recommendations really have merit, particularly the proposals to set up experiments and pilot projects across the country to try different approaches, to keep decisions close to the planning area, and the report's emphasis on adaptive management.
Already Congress has passed, and even the administration has agreed to implement, some very positive pilot projects on national forest land. The Quincy Library Group bill originated in this very Subcommittee, and it is a great example of what local people can accomplish when they work together. The administration has also set a positive precedent by allowing expedited processes to be used in Texas for removing a blow-down salvage. In addition, I will be working with leaders in my own State of Idaho to implement a pilot project where Idaho can manage specific portions of national forest land.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With these positive steps in mind, I am particularly looking forward to hearing how the recommendations of the Committee of Scientists address the use of pilot projects, and how they will ensure that the decisions are locally based.
Following the first panel, the Subcommittee will receive a report by a task group of the Nation's professional foresters. Their report on public land management laws provides a different view of the problems and solutions that are needed to resolve the Forest Service's current forest planning gridlock.
And, finally, we will hear from two witnesses who have closely followed the deliberations of the administration's Committee of Scientists, and will offer their views on how to improve national forest planning.
Now, I look forward to hearing from our panelists and reviewing these reports in more detail. Because I agree with the importance of using sound scientific principles in reaching forest management decisions, I would appreciate the witnesses' thoughts on the need for an independent scientific peer review of any of the recommendations that are presented today.
And, when the Ranking Minority Member comes in, should he wish, I would be happy to recognize him at that time for a statement.
Now I would like to introduce our first panel: Mr. Jim Lyons, the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Agriculture; Mr. Mike Dombeck, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, and Dr. K. Norman Johnson, Chairman of the Committee of Scientists from Corvallis, Oregon.
Dr. Johnson, I know you have others of your committee who are sitting behind you and, I wonder if you might, at this time, introduce them, please.
STATEMENT OF JAMES R. LYONS, UNDER SECRETARY, NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. JOHNSON. Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
As you said, I am Norm Johnson, College of Forestry, OSU, and I teach forest management and policy. And, with your permission, I will turn it over here and I will ask each of them to introduce themselves, if that is okay.
Mr. AGEE. I am James Agee, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Seattle.
Mr. LONG. James Long, Utah State University.
Mr. TROSPER. Ron Trosper, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona.
Mr. BESCHTA. Bob Beschta, Oregon State University, Corvallis.
Dr. SEDJO. Roger Sedjo, Resources for the Future, here in Washington.
Ms. DALE. Virginia Dale, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Ms. SHANNON. Margaret Shannon, State University of New York at Buffalo, part of the environment institute in the school there.
Dr. NOON. Barry Noon, Colorado State University.
Mr. WILKINSON. Charles Wilkinson, University of Colorado.
Ms. WONDOLLECK. Julia Wondolleck, University of Michigan.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, I want to welcome all of you to the hearing and it is an honor, indeed, and a pleasure to have these distinguished men and women with us today.
And, as explained in our first hearing, it is the intention of the chairman to place all of our outside witnesses under oath. Now, this is a formality of the Committee that is meant to assure open and honest discussion, and should not affect the testimony given by the witnesses. And, I believe that all of the witnesses were informed of this before appearing here today, and they have each been provided a copy of the Committee rules. So, now, if you will please stand and raise your right hand, I will administer the oath.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Witnesses sworn.]
The chairman now recognizes Mr. Lyons for his testimony.
Mr. LYONS. Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. It is a pleasure to be with you again this afternoon. I guess I would, first, ask that my complete statement be offered for the record and entered in the record, and I would simply summarize.
I know really the focus of the hearing today is to hear from Chairman Johnson of the committee, and the members of the committee. But, I thought what I would offer today is an attempt to try to put things in context.
You have already alluded to the 1995 rules and decision not to move forward with those rules. I thought I would offer some thoughts on thaton the valuable contributions that the committee's report provides us in terms of our goal of finally preparing a final set of rules for forest planning; then maybe just highlight a couple of the key provisions as I see them.
First of all, I want to emphasize, as you know very well, forest planning and, in fact, forest planning rules have been fraught with controversy from the very beginning. After the enactment of the National Forest Management Act in 1976, Forest Service set about preparing rules to guide forest planning, in accordance with section 6 of the RPA, which NFMA amended. Now, those rules were completed in 1979, but, in fact, no forest plan was ever completed under those rules. As he entered office as a part of the Reagan Administration, one of my predecessors, Assistant Secretary John Crowell, elected to pull those rules back and to take a new look at forest planning rules. At that time, Doug McCleary was his deputy.
They reviewed rules and the controversy over their efforts to attempt to revise the rules to conform with what they thought would provide proper direction led to reconvening of the Committee of Scientists, which had been originally convened to prepare the 1979 rules. The 1982 rules finally did go in place and, of course, all the forest plans that had been prepared, amended, and as you indicated, litigated, since that time, have been done so under the 1982 guiding rules. So, it has been some time since we have revisited the basic rules that guide forest planning.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When I first took office, one of the bundles of paper on my desk was a proposal from the Bush Administration to amend forest planning rules. I elected to review those rules and decided not to proceed, but, in fact, worked with Forest Service in preparation of the draft rules that were issued in 1995. In part, as a result of response to those rules and criticism from all sides about some of the substance of changes that were proposedas well as some of the things we were learningas the administration in moving forward with implementing new policy and management direction, lessons learned from the President's Northwest Forest Plan, from the Columbia River Basin effort, which you are well aware of, from implementing the salvage rider, and from working to try to prove the implementation of the Endangered Species Act, we found that there were a number of new lessons, and perhaps some new guidance, that should be incorporated into new planning direction.
Therefore, we decided, instead of moving forward with the 1995 rules, to establish a Committee of Scientists to take a fresh look at forest planning and the rulemaking that guides forest planning. In fact, in December 1997, as you pointed out, Secretary Glickman chartered and appointed the committee that is here before you today, and presented this report to Secretary Glickman on Monday.
I think it is important to note that this is an extremely diverse committee, selected so as to represent the breadth of expertise and experiences we thought were essential to understanding the issues that are associated with forest planning and to help create a new foundation, if you will, for forest planning and management direction for the future. And, so, the individuals that just introduced themselves represent a wide range of areas of expertise from forest ecologists and silvaculturists, to economists, to a lawyer, to a sociologist, range ecologist, landscape background and experience, as well as extensive experience in other areas of ecology, such as animal ecology.
We thought it was an extremely valuable team, and I think the product of their efforts are really outstanding. I think it does provide us a very valuable foundation for the work that we need to proceed with.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The report that was presented to the Secretary, that we will discuss today, I would say, in a phrase, is elegantly simple in the direction it provides and the message it sends. And, that is simply this: We need to work in a way that better integrates science and policy in decisionmaking processes, working from regional ecological assessments to create a foundation, if you will, to guide resource management. In using the scientific information available, we should work with our public, with interested parties, with our colleagues, and other agencies, to help develop a desired future condition that provides some set of goals and objectives for forest management direction. We should then use that desired future condition to guide implementation of forest management policies and specific management actions and measure our managers' performance by how well they implement actions to help move us toward that desired future condition, a condition that has, hopefully, been developed and agreed upon by the community of interest in a particular national forest or region of the country.
At the same time, we should monitor performance to ensure that we are getting the results we intended, and, in so doing, make corrections, as necessary, in the vein of adaptive management, a concept that we have discussed many times and, of course, a concept that former Chief Jack Thomas was instrumental in helping to put in place.
Some key elements in the report that I think are worthy of focusing on are these: First of all, the report emphasizes that fact that ecological sustainability should be a foundation for the management of the national forest. In fact, the committee's report summarizes that concept in this way: The committee recommends that ecological sustainability provide a foundation upon which the management for national forests and grasslands can contribute to economic and social sustainability. And, I think, the key there, Madam Chairman, is the linkage between ecological sustainability and the social and economic sustainability of the communities that you and I care very much about across the United States, the emphasis on larger landscapes.
I think what we have learned from our work in those regions of the countryI mentioned previously the Northwest, the Columbia River Basin, the Sierra, the Appalachiansemphasizing collaboration and the need for agencies to work together. I think we have come to recognizewe have discussed in this hearing room many timesthe extent to which other agencies, given the jurisdiction and authority they have in implementing statutes like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, and others, certainly impact how we implement planning. And, working with those agencies upfront is important in a collaborative vein, a focus on desired future conditions not devised, simply by the foresters in charge of individual national forests, but devised through partnership and dialogue with interested parties, with the public, with commercial interests that are impacted by the use of these national forests, and by those who may not live in an area proximate to a national forest, but certainly have a vested interest in this forest. Monitoring, which the committee highlights as an essential element of stewardship, I think is the key to ensuring that we are actually getting the results that we seek, and I think it is the key to responding to the concerns that you, and other Members of Congress, have raised with regard to our ability to be accountable for the investments we make and the resource decisions that we implement. Encouraging citizen participation throughout the planning process is another critical element and area of special emphasis.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As highlighted in the committee's report, watersheds are given particular focus, which I think, in some manner of speaking, helps to validate some of the focus that the Forest Service is providing on watersheds as well as other elements of what we refer to as the Forest Service's natural resource agenda. Most importantly, the recommendation that we measure performance based on our ability to move towards that desired future condition that is established on a landscape.
Let me explain, very briefly, Madam Chairman, how we hope to use the information that has been generated by the committee. In brief, we have been working on a parallel track with the committee in establishing a planning team to begin the process of revising and developing new planning rulesthat track, largely with the recommendations of the committee. We have worked from earlier drafts of the report, shared information, which, of course, has been available to the public-at-large through the website that was established. The committeein fact, I know the committee staffhas participated in several of the FACA meetings that were held by the committee.
We have used this information to begin the process of developing rules which we hope we can issue in draft this spring, with the intent of moving forward, receiving public comment, making improvements and modifications to respond to that comment, and hopefully, completing the rules by the end of this year.
I want to address one other issue, Madam Chairman, if I could, that I know will be a focus of discussion as this debate over the future of forest planning evolves. And that is the issue of the statutory foundation for forest management in this day and age. Some have argued, in fact, that the laws that guide the management of the national forests are broken. In fact, some will argue that the committee's report provides new direction for forest management.
I would argue quite the opposite, Madam Chairman, as you might expect. I would argue that, in fact, the statutory foundation for management of the national forests is quite sound, and that this report really, in fact, simply reaffirms direction that has been the ''standing order,'' if you will, for management of the national forests for nearly a century.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, if I couldand I would ask that this be entered into the recordI have with me a letter that was sent by former Secretary James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture, to Gifford Pinchot in 1905, nearly a century ago, which really provided the initial direction for management of the forest reserves as they were transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for administration.
I think, the most salient point in the letter from Secretary Wilson to Chief Pinchot was the following: The Secretary noted and directed that, where conflicting interest must be reconciled, the question will always be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long runI think arguing for the need to, not only deal with the concerns and issues of the present, but look to the long term in a sustainable way. In fact, Gifford Pinchot, in his autobiography ''Breaking New Ground,'' which I know you have, made note of the Secretary's letter and proudly said, of the letter, in the four decades between the time the letter was written and Pinchot wrote his autobiographythis letter has set the standard for the service, and it is still being quoted as the essence of Forest Service policy.
I would argue, Madam Chairman, that in the six decades since Pinchot wrote these words, that direction contained in the original letter from Secretary Wilson to Gifford Pinchot still stands. I believe the committee's report simply reaffirms that direction.
Let me close, Madam Chairman, by emphasizing something that I think the committee brought forth that is an extremely important point, and that is, over the yearsand you are well aware of thisthe Forest Services lost some credibility with the public, credibility with the communities we serve, maybe even credibility with the Congress, and our colleagues. The committee argues that there are ways in which we can begin to build or rebuild the credibility in partnership with that larger community of interest. In fact, the community argues that, by engaging the public in a dialogue about the use of their national forests, we can accomplish that larger goal of rebuilding credibility.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you know, Madam Chairman, forest planning has become an exercise that generates documents like these. And, actually this is one document in a pile that is about this tall, but it is sad to bring upI didn't have the strength to bring it all up here today. We put the public through an exercise of attempting to review these documents and respond to us, not in a collaborative way, but almost in a responsive way. I think that has lent itself to impacting the public's trust in us and the public's acceptance of the direction we provide.
To the contrary, I think our goal should be to engage the public in the management of their national forests, and, in fact, it is highlighted on the inside cover of the committee's report. Pinchot made the same argument back in 1907, again, nearly a century ago, when he said that national forests are made for and owned by the people; they should also be managed by the people. They are made not to give the officers in charge of them a chance to work out theories, but to give the people who use them, and those who are affected by the use, a chance to work out their own best profit. This means that, if national forests are going to accomplish anything worthwhile, the people must know all about them and must take an active part in their management.
And, I think you would agree that is very true, Madam Chairman, that we need to translate forest planning, policy, and management direction in ways in which the public can understand it and become actively engaged in deciding whether or not this direction we provide is consistent with their goals and wishes. In fact, we need to engage the public in a joint effort in deciding what the desired future condition for these national assets should, in fact, be.
The committee highlighted this point in their report, they said, ''People find it difficult to support what they do not understand. Further, few people have time for in-depth analysis,'' and they are referring to documents like this. The Forest Service must make a far greater effort to explain these policies in an understandable manner to the people who own these lands.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think, Madam Chairman, the committee has done us all a tremendous favor in reviewing past analysis and reviews of forest planning; in looking at the comments received from the public on past planning proposals; in fact, reviewing the internal critiques that you reference in your statement; in providing us a very sound foundation that should guide us in revising, what really amounts to, our planning technology so that we are better prepared and able to prepare plans that are responsive to, in effect, incorporate the public's views in a much greater way in the future than we did in the past.
The committee makes a recommendation, specifically, with regard to how we should measure performance, in fact, that I think will help us as well. The committee said, quote, ''Past planning, which often focused on timber harvest and the allowable cut, tended to polarize people in groups. Planning that focuses on desired future conditions and outcomes and the activities to achieve them, on the other hand, gives the Forest Service the best chance to unify people on the management on the national forests.''
I hope, Madam Chairman, as we work together on planning direction and these new rules, that we, in fact, can be unified in our commitment to attempt to get these rules finalized and out there as quickly as possible, so that our forest managers and, most importantly, the public we want to encourage to become engaged in this planning process, understand the rules under which they are to operateand, more importantly, are encouraged to be more involved in deciding the future management of their national forests.
With that, Madam Chairman, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lyons may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Lyons, for your excellent testimony.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Chair recognizes Mr. Dombeck.
STATEMENT OF MIKE DOMBECK, CHIEF, U.S. FOREST SERVICE
Mr. DOMBECK. Thank you, Madam Chairman, Mr. Sherwood. It is a pleasure to be here to speak with you today about a very important topic.
And, it is also an honor for me to be here with our distinguished Committee of Scientists. I want to publicly thank Chairman Johnson and Dr. Virginia Dale for leading this effort through to completion, as well as the entire committee that has put a lot of hard work into this.
I will be brief. I would like to ask that my entire statement be entered into the recordbook.
I think we all believe that the national forests of the richest country in the world be a model for how human communities can live in productive harmony with the land that sustains us generation after generation. But, yet, so much of the debate over natural resources today seems to focus on things which we disagree about. And, yet, I am sure you and I will agree that there is more common ground for us to walk as we chart a course toward sustainability.
After many months of work, the Committee of Scientists report illustrates that there are many similarities in the various perspectives of how to manage our national forests and grasslands. We all share the belief that we cannot allow any single use of these lands to diminish long-term productivity. The land's ability to support communities depends on taking care of the land's health, diversity, and productivity. And, this certainly is consistent with a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate.
To achieve this balance, we must build capacity for stewardship among communities of place as well as communities of interest. The best available science from all sources must be used to help identify options for decisions on the landscape. Additionally, we would all likely agree that continued multiple-use management of our national forests and grasslands is appropriate.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We also agree that multiple use doesn't mean every use on every acre. And, as Jim has mentioned, the American people are less concerned about the encyclopedic size of environmental impact statements and phone book size forest plans than they are about the results on the land. The results that they care about are: clean water, healthy forests, healthy watersheds, wildlife habitats, stable soils, recreation opportunities. This is the essence of the Forest Service's natural resource agenda. Combined with the recommendations of the Committee of Scientists, we will craft a new set of planning regulations that better meets the expectations of the citizen-owners of the public lands.
As stewards of the public trusts, we know that our forests and grasslands will confer economic, social, and other benefits on people and communities nationwide so long as we manage them in a way that maintains their health, diversity, and long-term productivity. Forest planning is the pathway to achieving that end result.
Based upon the Committee of Scientists' recommendations, ecological sustainability will lay a critical foundation for fulfilling the intent of the laws and regulations guiding public use and enjoyment of the national forests and grasslands.
And, I want to say upfront that the Forest Service mission is clear and always has been. If we manage the land in a sustainable manner, over the long term it will take care of us generation after generation. And, I believe that is a common goal that we all share.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dombeck may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Chief. I appreciate your good testimony.
And, now the Chair recognizes Dr. Johnson. I want to especially welcome you to the Committee. You are from my home State, and I was raised in Grants Pass and admire the university, the Oregon State University. Welcome.
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STATEMENT OF K. NORMAN JOHNSON, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE OF SCIENTISTS
Dr. JOHNSON. Well, thank you, Madam Chairman.
Our committee was convened in December of 1997 by the Secretary of Agriculture, as you have said, and we were given an assignment to recommend how to best accomplish sound resource planning within the established framework of environmental laws and within the statutory mission of the Forest Service. We were asked to suggest a planning framework that could last a generation, and that is what we have tried to do.
In our approach, we met around the country with Forest Service employees, representatives of tribes, States, and local governments, related Federal natural resource agencies, and members of the public.
We found many, many creative ideas being expressed by both the Forest Service and members of the public about how to improve planning. And, much of our recommendations, many of them reflect what we learned. I am going to summarize, very briefly, the 10 or 12 major recommendations that we have.
No. 1, recognize sustainability as the overarching objective of national forest stewardship. The national forests and grasslands constitute an extraordinary national legacy created by people of vision and preserved for future generations by diligent and farsighted public servants and citizens. They are the people's lands, emblems of our democratic traditions. And, we have named our report, which has just come out, ''Sustaining the People's Lands.''
The committee believes that sustainability, in all its facetsecological, economic, and socialshould be the guiding star for stewardship of the national forests and grasslands.
Looking back across the century, a suite of laws, starting with the Organic Act of 1897, call for Federal agencies to pursue sustainability. Thus, for the past 100 years, we, as a Nation, have been attempting to define what we mean by ''sustainability,'' in part through our grand experiment in public land management. In the process, we have broadened our focus from that of sustaining commodity outputs to that of sustaining ecological processes and a wide variety of goods, services, conditions, and values. The concept of sustainability is old; its interpretation and redefinition in this report should be viewed as a continuation of the attempt by Gifford Pinchot and others to articulate the meaning of ''conservation'' and ''conservative use'' of the precious lands and waters known as the national forests and grasslands.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Recommendation two is that ecological sustainability is a necessary foundation for stewardship. The committee recommends that ecological sustainability provide a foundation upon which the management of the national forests and grasslands can contribute to economic and social sustainability.
This is where planning should startby ensuring that we retain and restore the ecological sustainability of watersheds, forest and range lands for present and future generations so they can continue to provide benefits to society.
This recommendation does not mean that the Forest Service is expected to maximize environmental protection to the exclusion of other human uses and values, rather, it means that planning, for multiple use and sustained yield, should operate within a baseline level of ensuring the sustainability of ecological systems.
The committee believes that conserving habitat for native species and the productivity of ecological systems remains the surest path to maintaining ecological sustainability. To accomplish this task, the committee suggests a three-part strategy, and we have drafted regulatory language to help the Secretary understand how the strategy will be converted from concept to application. With the committee's recommendations, choices in management still remain about the level of risk.
Recommendation three, economic and social sustainabilitycontributing to the well-being of people today and tomorrowis a fundamental purpose of the national forests. Conservation and management of the national forests and grasslands can promote sustainability by providing for a wide variety of uses, values, products, and services, and by enhancing society's capability to make sustainable choices. Included in this effort should be the recognition of the interdependence of forest and grasslands with economies and communities; many communities depend on the national forests and grasslands for much of their economic, social, and cultural sustenanceas those of us who live in Oregon know.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Although, the Forest Service cannot singlehandedly sustain economies and communities, the national forests and grasslands, nevertheless, contribute many valued services, outputs, and uses that allow these economies and communities to persist, prosper, and evolve. Within a context of sustaining ecological systems, planning must take generous account of compelling local circumstances. In addition, local communities have much to offer in terms of the entrepreneurship and people to undertake the treatments that will be needed to sustain the forests.
Recommendation four, consider the larger landscapes in which the national forests and grasslands are located to understand their role in achieving sustainability. That is, planning should look outward. In the pastand I was part of the planning effort in region 6 in the late 1980'splanning tended to look inward, with each national forest treated somewhat as an island to provide all the goods and services. We feel that now planning should look outward and recognize the special role the national forests and grasslands play in regional landscapes.
Five, to build stewardship capacity and use a collaborative approach to planning. Basically, this is getting everybody into the tent from the beginning to assess resource conditions and trends as joint public-scientific inquiries; to work with other public and private organizations toward a sustainable future; to address all Federal lands within the area and work, to the degree feasible, with all affected Federal agencies; to undertake coordinated Federal planning.
Six, to make decisions at the spatial scale of the issue or problem. To have a hierarchical approach to planning, developing overall guidance for sustainability for bio-regions and undertaking strategic planning of large landscapes for long-term goals and project-level planning for small landscapes. And, as you mentioned in your opening remarks, we advocate an adaptive-planning approach where we learn from planning with experiments and pilots.
Seven, use the integrated land and resource plan as an accumulation of planning decisions at all levels and as an administrative vehicle for plan implementation; to make these ''loose-leaf'' plans dynamic and evolving, reflecting the outcomes of adaptive management; and to support local management flexibility, which we feel is essential to effective planning, with independent field review.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC No. 8, to make ''desired future conditions'' and the outcomes associated with them the central reference points for planning.
No. 9, to make effective use of scientific and technical analysis and review, including developing scientifically credible conservation strategies.
No. 10, to integrate budget realities into planning. Last time we approached planning more in the ''field of dreams'' approach, with the notion being that: ''build a plan and the money will come.'' Well, the money didn't come, at least not in total, and we feel that we should set long-term goals, considering likely budgets, and acknowledge that actual budgets affect the rate of progress.
Eleven, we provided special guidance on watershed and timber supply, traditional focuses of the Forest Service in achieving sustainability that included a six-part strategy for conserving and restoring watershedswhich, I won't go into detail, but we have on our summary.
And, next, on timber, to recognize the role of timber harvest in achieving sustainability; to recognize the need for predictable timber supplies and how adherence to sustainability increases long-term predictability; and to focus on desired conditions and the actions needed to produce these conditions, including timber harvest, in planning, budgeting, monitoring, and performance evaluationto focus on desired conditions, and the actions needed to produce them, all the way from planning through implementation, through budgeting. We also acknowledge external influences on collaborative planning and stewardship and suggest developing a consistent approach across Federal agencies for addressing protests and appeals.
Finally, to assist the Secretary in writing/planning the regulations, the committee has summarized these recommendations into a set of purposes, goals, and principles, which can serve as the statement of purpose at the beginning of the regulations.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Johnson may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much, Dr. Johnson.
And, the Chair now would like to step out of order just a little bit and recognize the Ranking Minority Member for any statements he might have. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. I don't have an opening statement at this point. I will go ahead and ask a question as we move around.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania for his questions, Mr. Sherwood.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Dr. Johnson, it's my understanding that, when the committee was chartered, Under Secretary Lyons indicated that he wanted the committee's report to be peer-reviewed. Is that correct?
Dr. JOHNSON. That is not my understanding. That is not my understanding.
Mr. SHERWOOD. I see. Was the report peer-reviewed?
Dr. JOHNSON. We have sent it out and made it available, and various people and scientists have given comments to us, but it has notthe report that has just come out was not subject to a formal peer review.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Has the committee kept detailed minutes of its meeting, as required by the Federal Advisory Committee?
Dr. JOHNSON. We have minutes of our meetings that are put up on our web page.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Would those be available for our Committee to review?
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. JOHNSON. Oh, sure, they are already available.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Good. We might want to see those.
Dr. JOHNSON. Sure.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Mr. Lyons, did you attend some of these meetings?
Mr. LYONS. Yes, sir. I did.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Okay. Like what percentage?
Mr. LYONS. Well, I know I briefly attended the initial meeting and perhaps two or three others.
Mr. SHERWOOD. And thenI have one more of thisand then I want to get into a little different line.
Dr. Johnson, I understand you resigned from the committee.
Dr. JOHNSON. Well, I am glad you asked that. I did not formally resign; I did not send a letter to the Secretary, but I lost my temper at one of the meetings, and if you had
Mr. SHERWOOD. We have all done that.
Dr. JOHNSON. [continuing] and, if you had listened to our conference calls, you would see that we have a very lively discussion. I felt that the committee was becoming too prescriptive in the details of what we were trying to do and getting away from our framework. And, I did send a note to them that I could no longer take part. The committee immediately asked me to rejoin and that we would work this out, and we did. I did not realize how much that would increase the interest in our report by the press.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Well, and don't think that the rest of us have never lost our temper in a substantive discussion. We just try not to throw a hand grenade in the middle of one of those good discussions.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
I am pretty interested in the eastern Forest, being from Pennsylvania. And, I think that we can make some mistakes in the East that Nature gets us out of a little better than it does in the States in the West. But, how much did you involve the eastern Forest, and do you have any comments on SFI and those type of things?
Dr. JOHNSON. First off, we had one meeting in Boston and another in Atlanta. We have a number of representatives from the East: Larry Nielsen from Penn State who, by the way, isn't here; Margaret Shannon who is from Buffalo. And, we were relying on them, and others from the Eastand Virginia Dale who is from Oak Ridge, Tennesseeto make sure that we have the experience to reflect the conditions in the eastern national forests. That is how we tried to approach it.
Now, if it is permitted, I would like to ask if any of the committee would like to make a further comment about that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Let me ask you, please, to identify yourself, for the record. Thank you.
Mrs. SHANNON. Margaret Shannon. I would just add that some of our really excellent examples of public participation and ways in which local people and the forests are working together came from national forests in the Northeast, the Green and the White Mountain, and we also have included some examples from the Huron-Manistee in Michigan.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you. One of the huge problems that we are so worried about in the West is the fire danger, and in the East we are more worried about deer damage. You know, I mean, things are so different. But, we find as we do our harvests in the Eastand we think we are doing them very carefully, and timber stand improvement, and taking the mature stuff out and the junk outand then we find that we don't have our normal regeneration because of the deer herd; that a young charier white ash sticks its head up and the deer lop it off. But, what does your plan suggest for the fire danger in the West, and how are we going tothe ladder, and all the natural trash that makes itit was very instructive on this Committee to me when I was shown some old pictures that the forest, 100 years ago, had more big stems and not near as much underbrush and not near as much trash because the natural forage had taken it out. We don't have that anymore. How did you address that?
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. JOHNSON. I would like to ask Dr. Agee, who is a fire ecologist, to address that.
Mr. AGEE. Hi, my name is James Agee from the University of Washington.
I think the way we addressed this was in the conceptual way that we addressed all of the lands that are in the national forests and grasslands. To take a look at their long-term sustainability, to look at the condition of the land that we wanted into the future, and obviously, in the case of fire, we don't want these flammable forests into the future. So, we look at a desired future condition on a lot of these western forests that tends to try to save the larger, more fire-tolerant trees and reduce the smaller trees that would create a ladder, as you mentioned, that would carry fire into the crowns of the trees.
It is the condition of the land that we feel planning should deal with, and the implementation and the progress towards those goals should utilize a combination of the appropriate tools for that particular place and that particular landscape. In the case of these western forests, I would probably include prescribed fire and timber harvest as some of the twoat least the two major types of tools that we would use. We did not, in our report, get so prescriptive as to specifically state that either timber harvest or prescribed fire should be used at a particular level or at a particular mix. We feel that those are the decisions that really have to be made based on this hierarchical planning that we have talked about and based on the collaboration that begins at that local level.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you.
Dr. JOHNSON. Can I say one more thing? When you get a copy of this andthere are just very few copies right nowbut if you turn to the very back of it where we talk about visualizing alternative futuresoh, you do have a copy. How wonderful. I know, but I barely have one. It is page 189. Okay, and, by the way, I know this is blurry and we are going to print it so it is better. The top left is the Eldorado National Forest, the current fire severity index. Red means, if you have a wildfire, you are going to burn it up. The righthand top is 50 years from now without active management; even more of it will be susceptible to fire. The bottom, left, is if you use a combination of prescribed fire and timber harvest, you can, by and large, eliminate that problem. Many people live along that lefthand edge, and that is a major issue.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What we are trying to do here is, we are trying to point out that this visualizing the future, thinking of where we want to go, is fundamental to forest planning. And, this sort of display can work wonders in helping unify people as to what to do.
This is the Eldorado National Forest in California, the same forest that is represented on the cover. No bias here, but I have spent a lot of time there. Okay. So, we are, in our reportwhile we are not prescriptive, we are trying to point out that, really, looking and understanding the long-run implications of different strategies is key, and we tried to illustrate what could be done to deal with the fire hazards.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you. My limited study of forestryand it is a hobby of minehas shown me, in the East, that no matter what we do, there are some trends that we can't control. We took a coniferous forest and we clear-cut it at the end of the last century, and it came back to be a vital hardwood forest. And, now, we have been cutting that, and then the gypsy moth killed a lot of it and the pines are coming back. You know, it is a moving target.
I am interested in how strongly you took into your planning the needs of the country for forest resource. And I believe that it is wonderful to have some stands that we never touch, that we could look at know how they would be if we never touched them. But I understand that you get more water retention in a young forest; you get more growth in a young forest; you produce more oxygen. There are certainly lots of economic reasons to have a sustainable harvest. And, I would like to know if someone would care to address that, or if your plan was more esoteric than that?
Dr. JOHNSON. I don't think I will be able to respond on whether it is more esoteric. The way we approached it was as follows: When you define where you want to go and what outcomes you want and the kind of products you want in the long run, and you try to work toward that, you have to undertake actions to get there. You, undoubtedly, want all the different successional stages represented and, thus, you have to find a way to achieve that, and certainly timber harvest has a significant role in that, in addition to providing outputs that people need.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we tried to define it; set up a framework where people could think this through and understand the implications, recognizing the dynamics of these forests. And, one of the major changes from this approach to planning than what we have had in the past was to recognize that the forest is not a static entity. You can't make it just sit there, and you have got to respond to that. And, if you wish to achieve, over time some conditions, you often need to get in there and do something.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you very much. I am afraid I am out of time.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much. The Chair recognizes Mr. Smith for his questions.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I appreciate the opportunity. I appreciate all the work that all the scientists did.
Back to my home State's universities, both were represented with Dr. Agee from the University of Washington and Dr. Hardesty from Washington State. And, it is nice to have the balance from the State, as well.
Let me ask just a couple of questions about some of the sort of fault lines, if you will, rocks in the hard places that you all have to deal with. Seems like in most public policy areas we spend a lot of time dealing with the areas, talking about the difficult areas out there, and sort of circling around them, and I understand that. Indirectly confronting them rarely leads to positive results, but it does need to be done, and I respect the fact in this report you did that.
Sustainability is one of the key concepts, and I am wrestling with what sustainability means. Sustainability of how many different purposes for our public lands, for whom, or for how long a period of time? And, obviously, a lot of people think one big portion of sustainability is the timber. You know, it is very simple; you can't cut it all down now because you won't have any in the future, but what is the appropriate level?
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But, beyond that, is balancing the different uses for the public land, some recreation purposes, and all of that. Do you see a possibility for balancing all of those sustainability interests? I know firsthand that what sustainability means to the environmental community is an entirely different thing than what sustainability means to the timber companies. Do you see any possibility of recognizing all of those different views and coming up with a sustainable plan for our public lands?
Dr. JOHNSON. Well, I want to make just a comment or two and then ask Charles Wilkinson to talk further.
First off, when we looked back at the history of the legislation, there was a call for sustainability from the beginning; it has always been of interest to the people. And, I know there are many hard issues here. We felt that sustainability in all of its facetsecological, economic, and socialwas a really fundamentally important starting point and goal to have; and could create an approach to planning and an approach to thinking that would, in fact, focus on how do we sustain the full suite of outputs and uses and values and would recognize the legitimacy of all of them.
Now, I would like Dr. Wilkinson, if he would like, to elaborate on that.
Mr. SMITH. And recognizing that is a very big step, I understand that and applaud that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You have no problem with his being recognized, Mr. Smith?
Mr. SMITH. Oh, I am sorry.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Please identify yourself, for the record.
Mr. WILKINSON. Yes, my name is Charles Wilkinson, Madam Chairman.
You are right that it is a large step. And, sustainability, at the end of this century, is a term that is used widely, and we think of it as a key notion in natural resources policy. In working through our report, we spent a good amount of time trying to understand the many different laws that affect the Forest Service over more than a century. And, some of them, not always thought of as Forest Service laws such as: the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, NEPA, and the Endangered Species Act, that apply on national forest lands. The more we talked about and understood those laws, the more comfortable we were with the idea that their central thrust was sustainability.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Actually, while you are on that point, that was one of my other questions, was about the compatibility of those laws with land management and the difficultyI mean, there are different regulations in different areas. And, from what you have just said, you basically said you saw greater wisdom in those laws, as you looked at it more closely. But do you still, also, see incompatibilities in terms of dual regulations overlapping, not working together?
Mr. WILKINSON. That is a problem we face as Americans today, I think, with overlapping regulations, and it includes State and local, which are getting increasingly active on the public lands. But, if you had to find an idea that ran through them, it is sustainability. I am not sure it is commonly realized, but the first national forests were set aside for watershed protection, from irrigation districts around the West, to have the watersheds protect it. In 1897, when the Organic Act was passed, preserving favorable conditions of water flows was listed as the first purpose. And, it was just then that the Forest Service came of age with Pinchot and Teddy Roosevelt and the extraordinary actions that they took. Their driving force was conservation, a word that it is worth marking down and reflecting on.
The Under Secretary earlier mentioned the famous Pinchot letter where he characterized the mission of the Forest Service as the greatest good for the greatest number. Over the years, those ideas have continued, and the Weeks Act was passed in 1911 for watershed protection. We had a Sustained Yield Act in 1944. And, then in modern times, the laws that this Committee is familiar with, has worked with, has amended, the ones I mentioned earlier all speak in some way about sustainability. The National Forest Management Act itself has a direct charge to the Forest Service to be a leader in maintaining the policy of conservation, to protect the Nation's natural resources in perpetuity. And, so, to us, it seemed clear that the broad mission that this Congress has charted for the Forest Service is sustainability.
Mr. SMITH. What do you see is being most in conflict with that broad purpose at this point? What are the two or three directions that we are being pushed or pulled in, in terms of public lands, that are in conflict with the sustainability mission?
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WILKINSON. Well, I think a person has to recognize that we went through a time in public land's administrationI think, largely, in response to the post-World War II boom, particularly in the West. The West has grown four-fold since the War, from 17 million people to 60 million people, and that required a lot of natural resources, whether it was water or coal or timber, and we responded. I think that this body has had serious questions about whether we didn't overdo the emphasis on commodity outputs. We must have commodity outputs, in my judgment, from the natural forests, and they ought to be significant. But, we have lost things in the national forests also. So, our report and the questions you raise are extremely difficult to answer in a shorthand fashion, and I know you appreciate that. But, we do believe it is valuable to recognize that the mission that this Congress has set out in using terms like ''sustained,'' and ''conserve,'' and ''in perpetuity,'' and ''future generations,'' that this body has used, repeatedly, over a century, that the first step is to protect the soil, and the water, and the watersheds themselves, so that they can sustain, so that they can provide for future generations. So, we use the termthe ecological component of sustainability is that that is the first obligation. Certainly, our every expectation isand there was a question earlier about timber productionthe national forests, unquestionably, can produce very significant commodity outputs. But, as Dr. Johnson articulated earlier, if you look out to the futureand the public with the agency sets a future visionand you look at the actions and what the landscape should look like, that the commodity outputs will follow from that.
I briefly say one thing: that we really do have an opportunity with the fuel loads in the Rocky Mountains, because there are areas for compromise there, because those areas do need to be cleared and a lot of that clearing can be done with harvesting.
Mr. SMITH. One last question, if I may, Madam Chairman?
The watershed issue, that is a big concern in the Pacific Northwest and has impacts on a variety of areas. The salmon listing that is due out any day nowin fact, it could be today, Thursdaywatershed is a key component of that. But also, as the region grows, we have greater and greater need for water and other cross purposes that conflict with making sure that that water is clean and available.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC How incompatible is the current commodity extraction practices on public lands, primarily timber, with protecting the watershed? I am operating from an area of very little knowledge here. From what I understand, particularly when you are talking about the roads and the cuts and everything, it creates major problems for the watershed if you don't have the riparian areas away from the water and that this has contributed a great deal to the problems I mentioned, not to mention flooding. I mean, we have had more flooding in the last five to ten years in the Pacific Northwest than we have probably have in the previous 100, and it can't all be coincidental.
I guess the first question: How related it is to that? Is there a way we can do it differently? Is there a way we can build the roads differently and log differently? I agree, you do need lighting on public lands, to a certain extent, but is there some way to do it in a manner that doesn't lead to all of those negative consequences?
Dr. JOHNSON. Congressman Smith and Madam Chairman, is it acceptable that I ask Bob Beschtahe is a hydrologist from the forest engineering department at OSUto answer that question?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes.
Dr. JOHNSON. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Please identify yourself for the record, again.
Mr. BESCHTA. Thank you. Bob Beschta at Oregon State.
The question of whether we can both harvest and have high-quality outputs with regard to water and aquatic ecosystems is a very controversial topic, as you are probably well aware, in the Pacific Northwest as well as other places. Very brieflyand there are a lot of sidebars, if you will, herebut when you focus on a single product, if you willI am going to overgeneralize here, but if we, let's say, maximize timber output from a watershed, I think what we have learned is we get into trouble. Okay, we maybe end up putting roads where we don't need them; we harvest in ways that probably would not be compatible with today's views on how to do that. There have been changes in forestry. We have learned a lot over the last 30 or 40 years, or 50 or 60 years. A lot of it is how to grow trees and how to do that in a better way, but a lot of it has, also, been on the impacts that harvesting practices can have. There are a lot of lands on national forests, as well as private ownerships, where we can build roads and we can harvest trees and have minimal to little impacts on, let's say, aquatic resources as well as water yields, or water runoff and water quality. There are a lot of other places, though, that we have to be incredibly careful and modify the approaches we use.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, there is no simple solution to that one, but by being aware of what your long-term goals are on a given area and having some local management flexibility that is trying to reach those goals, I think there is opportunity to have harvesting and meet water-quality goals, but we have to be careful how we do it.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Smith.
The Chair recognizes Mr. Udall.
Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I wanted to first acknowledge a couple of folks from my home district who are here with us today: Mr. Wilkinson and Dr. Noon, who are both Coloradans and served on the Committee. I thank you for your efforts and for the time you took to make a trip here to Washington, DC to be with us today.
If I could, I would like to direct a question to Mr. Wilkinson to begin my questioning. What I hear you saying is the Committee's recommendations are consistent with existing laws that are applicable to national forests. Do we need to pass any new laws in order to implement your report?
Mr. WILKINSON. Again, my name is Charles Wilkinson.
We were asked by the Secretary to prepare a report based upon existing statutes. There are a number of important issues that we were concerned about that needed, if they were going to be dealt with, probably need statutory attention. And, they include, for example, the budget question of trying to coordinate planning with Congress' budget process; that would be one example. But, we tried to keep most of our report within existing law and, yes, we are satisfied that existing law well supports the proposals we have made.
The Forest Service has, over the years, been recognized by the courts to have an extremely broad charter from Congress and, for example, they supported Pinchot's original grazing regulations and Chief John McGuire's mining regulations in 1974, as just two of many examples that have come under the Forest Service's charter. So, yes, we are very confident that our recommendations are within existing law.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. Madam Chair, if I may make a comment, then I have got another question.
Listening to you talk about commodities, I am reminded of that old saying about the West, and particularly in Colorado: ''Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over,'' and we certainly are continuing that tradition in Colorado as we speak.
Mr. WILKINSON. I think everyone enjoys having the Udall humor alive in this building again.
Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. I hope my Madam Chair does, too.
I want to stay in her good graces, of course. We are both from the West and the great Rocky Mountains.
I want to have another question for Dr. Johnson. As I understand it, the committee is recommending an emphasis on maintaining the viability of selected focal species and their habitats.
Dr. JOHNSON. Yes.
Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. How would you identify these species?
Dr. JOHNSON. With your permission and the permission of Madam Chairman, could I ask Dr. Noon from Colorado State to answer the question? Is that acceptable?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes, Dr. Noon, please identify yourself.
Dr. JOHNSON. And, it is not just because he is from Colorado.
Dr. NOON. I am Barry Noon.
Let me, first, answer that by a few introductory comments about how we address the viability issue. As a committee, we recognized that the viability standard was, in fact, impractical and undoable for even the most well-meaning of managers. The charge to assess and make inferences to the viability of all species within a management area is simply not possible. But, yet, we recognize that that remains the goal. The goal is to sustain all species, but to assess all species is not possible.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we sought insight from what we have learned in the last 20 years, broadly, in the field of environmental sciences of how we could still shoot towards the goal of sustaining the viability of all species and assess our progress, our compliance, to reaching that goal. But, in a way, that was doable. And, we adopted this idea of focal species, in which it is very generally described as: a species that provides inference up to the level of the ecological system to which it belongs. That is, having information just on the status and trends of that species provides insights far beyond that particular species itself.
This is an emerging field in ecology; it is a very active field of research in both marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems. I think, since the regulations were initially written, and we have made significant progress, we recognize that to do this, the honest and responsible way to do that is in the form of hypothesis. That is, we are going to propose species as focal species. The hypothesis is that they are, indeed, providing inferences upward to the larger system. And, we are proposing that it is the responsibility of the Forest Service, through their monitoring program, to determine the degree to which that hypothesis is true. If it is false, then we propose that they need to suggest a substitute species or two.
Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. Do you think this approach will meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and any other applicable laws that you might identify?
Dr. NOON. Well, that is a really good question. You know, there is a point at which, even though the goal is to sustain all species, we have to provide managers with tools that, in fact, can be implemented. The assumption that a small group of species is providing inference to the status and trends of all the vast majority of species that are not being measured is an assumption that a responsible manager should be testing with some regularity. And that means going out and looking at the system, looking at species or processes other than the focal species or processes, to see if they are working as envisioned according to our model of how we think Nature works. To the extent they are not, to the extent that observation is not concordant with prediction, then you should revisit your management decisions. And, to us, that is the way we envision the process of adaptive management.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. Thank you. I look forward to hearing more about this. And, thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Udall.
The Chair recognizes the lady from California, Mrs. Napolitano.
Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. And, I am from the far, far West.
It is interesting to listen to some of the dialogue, especially from the Committee of Scientists' viewpoint. I have a couple of questions, and one of them is directed at Under Secretary Lyons because of his report, page 2, paragraph 3. You indicate that the lessons learned from the experiences in developing the Northwest Forest Plan, the President's Northwest Plan, were factored, concluding that the draft forest planning rules in 1995 were not accurate. I am interested in, No. 1, what those lessons were because, after all, you learn from your experience and you are trying to be flexible. But, do you think that that report does reinforce the conclusion that the science-based ecosystem or the bio-regional assessments are a necessity for national forest planning for the future? And, is this plan revision process for the 10 national forests over in the Sierra Nevadas in California a good example? That is something that is a very key interest for us in California.
Mr. LYONS. Yes, Congresswoman, I think we have learned a great deal from the Northwest Forest Plan, as well as the Sierra Nevada ecosystem project, which, actually, was initiated based upon statutory direction from some of your colleagues in California. I believe we learned that, in fact, having that scientific underpinning, borne of these regional assessments that allow us to understand the condition of forest resources trends and the range of variability in terms of those systems, is an important underpinning for the management direction that we set.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the things that the Committee of Scientists, in fact, focused on was the linkage between these regional ecosystem assessments and land-management planning and, ultimately, local decisions; and, in fact, emphasized the fact that we needed to look at these lands in context before we made these decisions.
If I could quote from one piece of the report in which the committee addressed the issue of sustainability, it pointed out that
Mrs. NAPOLITANO. What are you referring to, sir?
Mr. LYONS. I am actually referring to the summary document and, since this is a draft I worked from, I am not sure I can point to the specific page in their complete report.
Anyway, they stated, quote, ''Moreover, the public lands rest in mosaic land ownerships, and so public land management must be integrated into a broader regional landscape. This context requires a Forest Service with a strong commitment to ensuring the sustainability of ecological systems on public lands and to embracing the adaptive management approach that recognizes the fundamental uncertainties and ecological, as well as social, systems and allows for policy choices to be informed by experience and change over time.''
As you know from your experiences in California, the California landscape is undergoing rapid change. And, I think we learned, in preparing the Northwest Forest Plan, that we needed to understand the role those public lands would play in the larger context. One of the valuable lessons that came of that was, we worked with our sister agencies in the Department of the Interior, the jurisdiction over the Endangered Species Act, in helping to develop strategies that would allow us, if you will, on public lands, particularly the national forests and BLM lands, to absorb a dominant responsibility, if you will, for protecting some of the threatened and endangered species, which would then relieve some of the pressures on private landowners for meeting those endangered species obligations.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That led to the development of what we call Habitat Conservation Plans, where Secretary Babbitt has really pioneered. The anchor for those Habitat Conservation Plans is the strong protection provided on Federal lands for those species of concern in that region. We had never done that before. So encouraging the collaboration between agencies, understanding our missions, and understanding the role the public lands could play versus the private lands in that larger landscape context was extremely valuable. And, I think the Committee of Scientists report highlights the importance of viewing resource-management decisions in that larger landscape context.
Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Thank you very much. Now, my second question, Madam Chair. With your permission, I will refer to your report in this book, that I just happened to look at, page 59, section 3-10, where you talk about the planning coordination of the urban fringe and the San Bernardino National Forest. And, as your verbal report is indicating, you are looking at furthering the conservation areas. I must remind you, or at least implore you, to not forget those of us who live in those 26 cities that you mention on line 26. The South Whittier area, for instance, just recently put in about 300 acres into conservancy and we are working to add Brea Canyon and Coal Canyon to the conservancy. Yet, we are having a tough time trying to figure out who, when, where, and how can we work with the different agencies to be able to have assistance, to not only purchase the lands from the current owners, who are sometimes demand exorbitant prices, but also to be able to put it all together.
Our partners have been the TPL, the Trust for Public Lands in California, and we have had very good success at the beginning of the mountain range at the base of Whittier, and now it is moving. But, while you are focusing on the bigger picture, don't forget those little ones of us that are out there just flailing around and trying to say ''Help.''
Mr. LYONS. Well, Ms. Napolitano, let me point out that I think, first of all, coordinating strategies and bringing those elements together is one of those things that we have a responsibility to do. So, I would be pleased to work with you
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Then, where have you been?
Mr. LYONS. Well, you haven't called; you haven't written. But, we will be there.
Mrs. NAPOLITANO. The last time I spoke to somebody from the Forest Service, they indicated to me that, ''Oh, we will talk to you because we are doing some school-based programs.'' Well, thank you very much; that is great for my schools. I am interested in the conservancy areas to help those folks not directly in my area; at Coal Canyon and Brea Canyon. But, I am helping Congressman Miller, and others in that area, continue the work that we started in our area, so that we have this wildlife corridor and are able to preserve it.
Mr. LYONS. Well, now that I am aware of this, I would be certainly willing to help in whatever way we could.
Mrs. NAPOLITANO. I will be calling you.
Mr. LYONS. I look forward to that. Let me point out one thing, though, because I know this is an issue of discussion within the larger committee. The administration has proposed a lands legacy initiative which would include resources, both for land acquisition and for the acquisition of forest easements, as well as for funding urban and forestry activities in those communities, all of which might be helpful tools in addressing the concerns you raise. So, I would be pleased to follow up with you and see what we can do to help.
Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Well, I appreciate your offer, and I certainly commend the agency for the work it does. It has got to be a tremendous job, and I certainly want to impose my own thoughts, for the recordthat, I think the Forest Service should consider going back to its original intent of protecting the watershed first, protecting the forest, and then the rest can come as it may.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. The chairman has some questions and I wanted to follow up on a question asked of Dr. Johnson by Mr. Sherwood.
Dr. Johnson, Mr. Sherwood asked you about peer review. Can you indicate, for the record, why peer review was not done before submitting the information and the report to the Secretary and to the Committee?
Dr. JOHNSON. First off, our charter did not request that, but, secondly, this report is a little different from regular scientific work. This is an integration of scientific ideas by a broad-based group of scientists. And, so we did that and then provided it to the Secretary. The Secretary, of course, is welcome to do with it as he wishes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Dr. Johnson, will you be moving ahead on peer review on the report?
Dr. JOHNSON. I don't plan to. I, actually, hope I am done, if you understand that.
But, I see that a number of individuals and groups are planning reviews of it. The Journal of Forestry is going to have a special issue on it, other people that we are about to hear later today, views of people, and I think there will be a number of reviews of it. I, myself, am not planning, right now, on further peer review.
Mr. LYONS. Madam Chairman, if I could, since the Secretary's office gave the committee the chargeand since Mr. Johnson is anxious to retire from his current tasklet me just point out that one of the reasons we didn't submit this to peer review, as Dr. Johnson indicated, this is a different kind of report. We have asked an esteemed group of scientists to render some opinions in evaluating current forest planning practices, the critiques of the past, and the job we are doing on the ground, as a basis for making recommendations for how we can improve forest planning. You know, we purposely sought and, in fact, worked with both bodies of Congress in identifying members for the committee, to try to come up with a broadly-based group of people who could provide us as objective and independent opinion as we could obtain.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, our intent was not to submit this to peer review, because it is not like a document that would normally be sent out for peer review. This is not a research study or a scientific report in that vein. But, I would point out that, through the public participation process and the fact that the committee's report and all its drafts were available on the website, and through the process I know that we will engage in, in meeting with you, and other Members of Congress, that I think there will be an opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion and the merits of the recommendations that committee has provided.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Lyons. It has been reported to me that individuals that had attended the meetings did report that you did say at the meetings that there would be peer review. As we reviewed the minutes, the minutes are fairly sketchy about that. But, we did, specifically, inquire and I just want to see if you would like to clarify that for the record.
Mr. LYONS. Well, I would be glad to. We don't intend to seek peer review.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You don't?
Mr. LYONS. No. We intend to use the information that has been provided and attempt to move ahead.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. Let me ask Dr. Noon to take the mike again. Dr. Noon, your proposal about the focal species approach, I would have to guess, not being a scientist myself, that that is the same as indicator species, focal species. Is that what we commonly refer to as indicator species?
Dr. NOON. Focal species is inclusive of the concept of indicator species, but it is broader than that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Would you please explain it?
Dr. NOON. Some of the concepts that we have drawn on from the study of natural systems that people have been using, not just in this country, but throughout the world, to assess changes in biodiversity, have included concepts like indicator species, which often have the characteristics of being an early warning; that is, they respond quickly to changes to environmental stresses. But, in addition to that, we have added other concepts such as umbrella species. These would be species that have large area requirements, and by meeting their needs for viability, presumably, you encompass the needs of many other species that share their habitats, but have much smaller area requirements. For example, I think an argument could be made that the Northern Spotted Owl serves as an umbrella species for Lake Seral Forest in the Northwest.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have also brought in the concept of keystone species, that is, species that have effects on the transfer of matter or energy through ecosystems that is far beyond what you would predict from their abundance. Examples of this, perhaps the best example for marine systems are sea otters. For instance, from terrestrial systems, a good example is prairie dogs.
We also talked about species that have unique positions in the trophic pyramid, the pyramid of transfer of matter and energy, to primary consumers, to herbivores, up the trophic chain to carnivorous animals. An example like this, again, drawing on some of my own research, might be the dusky-footed woodrat in owl populations. In fact, I noticed there is even an article in the latest issue of the Journal of Forestry talking about the role that it plays in managed forests in the redwood zone of California. So, it is inclusive of the indicator concept, but it is broader than that, sort of the general umbrella that we have adopted, that is, it provides inference far beyond its own status and trend.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So, specifically, the definition of a focal species is what?
Dr. NOON. It is the definition that I just gave you. It is
Mrs. CHENOWETH. It is inclusive of all of those definitions, right?
Dr. NOON. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Okay. Now, I understand that your committee report acknowledges that this approach has never been field tested. What testing should be, and will be, done in the field before this approach is ready to be applied in all the national forests? What are your plans?
Dr. NOON. I don't think we used the term ''field tested.'' We recognized what we honestly point out that there is no algorithm that we can pull off the shelf of ecological knowledge that tells us exactly how one should go about selecting a small subset of species, from the entire set, that will provide the most reliable inference upward to the larger system. The field testingcorrect me if I am wrongis not a term that we use. I mean, we certainly have a long history in my discipline, for instance, of wildlife management of implementing management practices to benefit populations and their habitats.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Dr. Noon, the term is used on page 4 at the bottom of the second paragraph in the lefthand column. So, that is what prompted my question.
Dr. NOON. The field testing here refers to the conceptual idea. The metaphor I made of an algorithm that one would pull off a shelflet's imagine that you were a forest supervisor on a forest in the West, and you were to look at the species that you are responsible for. And, let's just restrict it to animal species, not to plant species. Your typical list would be in the hundreds. Now, clearly, it is not possible for you, if you were asked by the public, to state, unequivocally, what the current status and trends of all of those species would be.
Now, the question we are posing is, is it possible that, if you looked at that list of species and imagine that we constructed a filter in which the fabric of that filter was based on our best understanding, both from empiricism and from theory, of how nature worked, and we were to dump in the top all 100 plus of those species, and what is retained in the filter is that small subset of species that provide the most reliable inference upward to the integrity of the larger system. That is what we are proposing that the Forest System work towards. And, that is consistent, really, with what ecologists like myself, from around the world, are working on in trying to assess bio-diversity, recognizing that we cannot measure everything, it is not possible. But, yet, it is our responsibility to ensure that bio-diversity persists.
Dr. JOHNSON. Could I elaborate on that, just a little bit, Madam Chairman? Is that permitted?
What we say there, which has to do with the ecological sustainability regulation that we drafted, is, we say this about the overall approachlet me just read a couple of sentences here: ''that the committee acknowledges that such concepts as focal species, ecological integrity, and the use of scientific information may involve technical issues and, thus, has an obligation to the Secretary and Chief to provide some insight on how this framework of ecological sustainability might be converted from concept to application. Therefore, while our approach has not been field tested, the committee has drafted regulatory language in the report that we believe provides a useful approach to the issue.''
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Well, first off, as I often do when I read something again, I wish I had written it a little differently and put ''fully field tested.'' But, the idea was that there are two parts to this.
The first idea was that there are a number of parts to this regulationthat, of course, we have experience in the field. It was the integration of them that we were talking about as a regulation that perhaps needs some thought and examination by the Chief, and his people, to make sure they are practical.
But, in addition to that, we have put forward working hypotheses, and we are acknowledging that. When the regulations were written in 1982well, starting in 1979I was actually a consultant to the Committee of Scientists. I was young then.
And, they were very much working hypotheses. But, the idea was we are going to come up with a new set of planning regulations that are going to last for a long time. We are now acknowledging these are working hypotheses. I think that they are much more conducive to management of the forests than what is in the current regulations. But, we have to acknowledge, I think, that we need a new set of regulations, but we can't put them in stone for 20 years. They, themselves, need periodic updates. And, so it is a different approach to thinking about management; it is the whole adaptive management concept applied to planning.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Dr. Johnson. I would like to ask
Dr. JOHNSON. Could I actually elaborate on this question of peer review? Is that permitted or not?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes, please go ahead.
Dr. JOHNSON. Since you mentioned that, in our meetings, did we discuss it, I racked my brain and tried to think of it. We had like seven 3-day meetings and then we had 10 conference calls, and I really do not remember where we, as a committee, said we were going to seek peer review. And, then I thought about the times when Jim Lyons talked to us, which were two or three, and I can't remember that happening then, either. But, we had a lot of conversations at those meetings, but I really do not remember that happening.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. I appreciate your clarifying that for the record.
I would like to ask Dr. Sedjo to please come to the mic and please identify yourself.
Dr. SEDJO. Roger Sedjo.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And you are from?
Dr. SEDJO. From Resources for the Future here in Washington, DC.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Dr. Sedjo, what is the statutory mission of the Forest Service, and does the committee's report, in your opinion, appear to change that mission at all?
Dr. SEDJO. Well, the statutory mission comes out in the National Forest Management Act of 1976, which calls for the sustainable production of multiple outputs and identifies several of those multiple outputs. The focus was unsustainable production of outputs. In the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, that calls for a high levels of periodic outputs of renewable resources in perpetuity. So, in both cases, the focus is on the outputs being produced on a sustainable basis.
There is an interesting shift in focus over time here, and I am going to tell a little story that my colleagues sometimes think is a little soapy. But, if you look over time at the way we have looked at the national forest system, if we view it as a goose that lays eggs. In earlier periods, we viewed it as a goose that needed to be maintained; we needed to protect it; let it run around. We were in a protection mode. We moved from that mode into an output-oriented mode. We are looking at the goose as a working goose whose output was the production of, in the 1960's and 1970's, multiple-use eggs. The current perspective that I think this committee has adopted is to take the focus off of the output, off of the eggs, and put the focus on the goose.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I sometimes characterize this as ''goose beautiful'' or the ''body-builder goose.'' We are interested in the condition of that goose, and outputs are sort of incidental to that. And, I think there has been a shift through time in kind of the thought perspective, and, certainly, this committee has taken that view of the focus on the goose, rather than the focus on the output that that goose might be producing. I am not viewing it as a working goose, the way we were 20 or 25 years ago.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I have taken advantage of my time, and I see Mr. Udall from Arizona is here. And, I would like to ask youand I think I will do it in writingwhat you believe are the biggest problems with the current regulations? I need to hear from you on that. And, in your opinion, does the report, adequately, give direction to resolve the problems with the current regulations.
Dr. SEDJO. I will send you some thoughts on that in writing.
[The information may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And, the Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Udall.
Mr. UDALL OF NEW MEXICO. Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I know you have already been asked about the viability of focal species and their habitats
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Excuse me, Mr. Udall, for the record, Mr. Udall from New Mexico.
Mr. UDALL OF NEW MEXICO. Thank you, Madam Chair. You know what happened is that at least a lot of my friends in Arizona say that there were too many Udall's in Arizona. So Mark is up in Colorado; I am over in New Mexico. We branched out. That is the theory. I don't necessarily claim that, but Arizona is where I was born, so no offense taken.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I know you were already asked about the issue of the selected focal species and their habitats and how would the species be identified. What I was wondering is, once they are identified, how would the Forest Service proceed? Would there be an ongoing process of collecting data about their population trends to see how they are doing? And, how would the focal species approach differ from what the Forest Service is doing now?
Dr. JOHNSON. With the permission of Mr. Udall and Madam Chair, could we have Barry Noon respond to that?
Mr. UDALL OF NEW MEXICO. Yes. That is okay.
Dr. NOON. Barry Noon.
The way that we envisioned this working is that, once you have your smaller group of focal species selected, with the logic that I outlined earlier, and that we go into detail in our report, is that you would need to understand their ecology and life history in detail. One of the key aspects that we propose is that you would relate that life history and that ecology to measurable aspects of the habitat, perhaps even the habitat elements that could be assessed, to some degree, based on remotely sensed data. You then go through an active period, in which you develop habitat-based models that make predictions about population, status, and trend. You, then, can move somewhat out of the intensive mode of population studies to assessing habitat as a surrogatewith this key caveat: that a habitat-based model alone may not be sufficient. There may be other threats that the species are being exposed to that are independent of habitatover-harvest, pollution. So that this has to be validated with some regularity; that is, you have a habitat-based model; it makes a prediction about the status and trend of a focal species. And, then, as part of the monitoring, you go out in the field and you look to see whether or not the species is behaving as envisioned. So, you never completely give up the responsibility of, with some regularity, directly looking at the populations.
Mr. UDALL OF NEW MEXICO. Thank you very much. My second question is for Chief Dombeck, and it relates to this, but it is also the broader issue of watershed maintenance. And, I am wondering how your report meshes with your efforts to reestablish priority for watershed maintenance and the restoration of the national forests.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOMBECK. First of all, I have not read the entire report, since we just got it yesterday, but I am aware of, have followed its development. And, with the aspects of the natural resources agenda that the Forest Service developed over the course of the last couple of years, with watershed health and restoration as one of the four primary priorities that we take on, I view it completely compatible. And, in fact, Charles Wilkinson talked about earlier in the hearing, talked about the mandate of the Organic Administration Act of 1897 that focuses on watersheds and securing favorable flows for conditions of water as well as the Weeks Act of 1911.
The concept that I am working from, and just to put it simply, is that, if we take care of the soil and the water, everything else will be okay. The watershed function is what is most important: the groundwater recharge, the soil-holding capabilities, and capacities of the root systems of the trees and the vegetation, and all of that. This works as a unit on the watershed to keep things healthy and functioning. So, we recharge aquifers, maintained clean water flows in streams, and dampened the effects of floods, and all of these things work in concert. And, this is why it is so important to look at the watershed as a functional entity.
Mr. UDALL OF NEW MEXICO. Thank you, Chief. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Udall.
I would like to direct this statement to Dr. Johnson. Dr. Johnson, I do have other questions that I want to ask you, specifically about nine. And, so I am going to ask them to you in writing. My concerns are, generally, how will the recommendations of your committee comport with what is regular Forest Service planning? I am concerned about how it will comport with the Government Performance and Results Act. How many levels of planning and decisionmaking have we been able to eliminate, or have we added more? One of my concerns comes out of a regional plan that was developed in the Northwest called the Interior Columbia Ecosystem Management Plan. And, it has had enormous cost overruns and it seemed to present itself here in Washington with many layers and levels of decisionmaking before we could get to the Chief.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The information may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I am going to be reviewing the entire reportand I have only had a chance to review your summaryand with the entire report, with that in mind, because we do need to expedite the ability, especially in the appeals process, to be able to get right to the Chief and on up, if we need toso, I will be looking at that and I will also be asking you questions about whether the agency will be able to make decisions more quickly. I will be reviewing the study, and your recommendations, with regard to, are we enhancing the process that is already well enhanced and needs to be made more efficient, while we, actually, can see results out on the ground?
And, with regard to your testimony and the testimony of Mr. Lyons, I still have questions about that and deep concerns.
I do want to say that it is a privilege to be able to work with you and the committee. It is an honor to have you here, all of you. And, I want to thank you very much for the time you have put in for the Nation, for the forests, for the Chief, for the Under Secretary, for all of us in building this plan. I am sorry, but you are not entirely off the hook because I will have other questions for you. But, again, thank you for your service. Your time, energy, and intelligence is so greatly appreciated.
[The information may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Dr. JOHNSON. Well, thank you, Madam Chairman. The entire committee took part in this, and we did it because we care about these lands.
I want to say just one final thing. If you look at the cover, there is a very small person looking up at the Eldorado National Forest, sitting on a rock; it is my 81-year-old mother.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Is that right?
Dr. JOHNSON. Yes. So certainly criticizing the report is fair game, but I get sensitive when people criticize the cover.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I don't blame you, and I am prepared for that.
Mr. LYONS. Madam Chairman?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes, Mr. Lyons?
Mr. LYONS. I don't want to interrupt, but, if I could, just for the record, I want to acknowledge and agree with your commendation to the entire committee for Dr. Johnson, and the entire committee, for their extraordinary commitment and hard work in producing this document. We may, you and I, and others, may disagree about some of the elements of the committee's recommendation. And, I would simply point out, perhaps, some of the questions you may put to Mr. Johnson he may not be in a position to answer, because they ultimately will be issues that we have to address as we look at future planning regs. But, I don't think we would disagree that they have done a tremendous job and provided a tremendous service to the Nation in helping us tackle these difficult issues. And, I want to agree with you and thank you for offering your congratulations and commendation as well.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mrs. Napolitano.
Mrs. NAPOLITANO. I wonder, Dr. Johnson, if you would ask your committee, with the indulgence of the Chair, to stand up, so we may know who they are.
Dr. JOHNSON. We introduced them once before, but, please, let's do it again. And, you might give your specialty when you identify yourself.
And, I am Norm Johnson, College of Forestry, OSU, and I teach forest management and forest policy.
Mr. AGEE. James Agee, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Seattle.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LONG. James Long, Department of Forest Resources, Utah State University.
Mr. TROSPER. Ron Trosper, forest economist and Native American studies, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Mr. BESCHTA. Bob Beschta, hydrologist at Oregon State University.
Dr. SEDJO. Roger Sedjo from Resources for the Future here in Washington. I specialize in economics and policy.
Ms. DALE. Virginia Dale from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. I am a landscape ecologist.
Mr. SHANNON. Margaret Shannon, State University of New York in Buffalo. I specialize in social science and natural resources policy.
Dr. NOON. Barry Noon from Colorado State University. My specialty is wildlife ecology.
Mr. WILKINSON. Charles Wilkinson, University of Colorado, Federal and public natural resource law.
Ms. WONDOLLECK. Julia Wondolleck, School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan. I specialize in public participation and dispute resolution.
Dr. JOHNSON. And, the other members were Dr. Linda Hardesty, Department of Natural Resources Science, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, range ecology and management, and Dr. Larry Nielsen, School of Forest Resources, Penn State University, Fisheries and Public Administration.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much. You are welcome. And, this panel is now excused.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We will call before us Dr. Don Floyd, who is the chairman of the Task Force on Public Lands Legislation, Society of American Foresters, out of Syracuse, New York. Dr. Floyd, I wonder if you could introduce Mr. Banzaf?
Dr. FLOYD. Actually, we thought we might do it the other way around, if that is all right with you?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I wonder if you might both please stand and swear to take the oath.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Dr. Floyd, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM BANZAF, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SOCIETY OF AMERICAN FORESTERS
Dr. FLOYD. Actually, I would like to start by giving Bill Banzaf, who is the executive vice president of the Society of American Foresters, a minute to introduce the report and what we are up to here.
Mr. BANZAF. Thank you, Don.
Madam Chairman, if I may. I have had the pleasure of testifying before you on prior occasions; it is a pleasure to be back.
My name is William Banzaf. I am executive vice president of the Society of American Foresters, that organization that represents the broad field of forestry. In a professional sense, we provide the accreditation to universities, publish five peer review journals, and attempt to set standards for the profession.
What I would like to do, very briefly, before turning it over to Dr. Floyd, is to describe the process that is used by the Society of American Foresters to develop objective, science-based information that represents a very diverse professional constituency. We have, within the organization, practitioners and scientists representing the employment sectors of the forest products industry, academia, the consultant community, the environmental community, State and Federal governments. So, we have a very broad philosophical diversity within our organization, and we attempt to develop a process that reflects that diversity and uses the wisdom that comes from that diversity to develop our reports.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our charter was set for the committee by our council, our board of directors, in December of 1996, and it was a bit different than that of the Committee of Scientists in that we were to look beyond the planning regulations and examine all of the laws and regulations that affect the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. I might say that this was, at times, a truly overwhelming task.
And, as the chief staff officer of SAF, it really is my pleasure to take the opportunity to thank our volunteer task force, scientists who volunteered their time, under the direction of Dr. Don Floyd, to work over two years in putting this document together.
Our process included meeting with the SAF membership at two national conventions, where we had close to 2,000 people in attendance, at several State society meetings, and the various regions affected by public land management, as well as visiting field offices, both of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.
Our report was given an internal peer review by our forest science and technology board, some of the best scientists in the field. It was also reviewed by our forest policy committee. And, finally endorsed, after a great deal of debate, by our board of directors this past March 10.
And, I will tell you that, in terms of at least internal peer review, Dr. Floyd and I, though certainly appreciating the comments of others, when one sees commas changed, semi-colons changed, and a small ''of'' replaced by another word, one does realize that one is getting peer review.
I think it is important, in my concluding comment, to say that really what we hope is that: No. 1, the release of our report, along with the report of the Committee of Scientistsand it was truly a pleasure to listen to their testimonythat these two reports will foster the bipartisan discussion that really needs to take place with Congress and the administration to make certain that we have constructive change.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, the executive summary report that you have before you is in official position, based on its endorsement by our board of directors of the Society of American Foresters.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, gentlemen.
The Chair recognizes Mr. Udall for questions.
Mr. BANZAF. Excuse me, Madam Chairman.
Mr. Udall, depending on yourDr. Donald Floyd will be giving the actual full testimony.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Oh, okay. I thought he had yielded to you. I do want to recognize him at this point.
Dr. FLOYD. Very rarely do the volunteers yield to me.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF DON FLOYD, CHAIRMAN, TASK FORCE ON PUBLIC LANDS LEGISLATION, SOCIETY OF AMERICAN FORESTERS
Dr. FLOYD. I will gratefully reclaim my time. Thank you, Mr. Banzaf.
I want to make a couple of points and I am just going to speak informally from some notes. I think the first thing that I want to say is I want to acknowledge the Committee of Scientists' work. I think they have really worked very hard on this document.
The first observation that I would make is that many of the recommendations that we make in the SAF task force report are very similar to the ones that are made in the Committee of Scientists' report. So, there is a great deal in common between the two. There are a couple of differences, and I am going to come back and highlight those in just a minute.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The second point I would make is that we purposefully prepared what I think is an independent assessment and did not look at the Committee of Scientists' work untilthe first time I really reviewed their work was their fifth draft, which I think became availablethe first time I saw it was in December of this year.
We are quite hopeful that these two reports, taken together, will provide an impetus to reduce what we believe is significant polarization between the Congress and the administration regarding public lands policy. We think there have been some significant differences and the only way we are going to make things better is by moving in a bipartisan direction right now. And, that may be the most important thing that we can suggest here.
Some differences: We do suggest a legislative approach rather than regulatory reform for addressing these issues. We believe that there are significant differences within the statutes that ought to be addressed and that life would be much simpler if we could have Congress say that these are the most important values, and these are the most important issues, and this is what the national forest ought to be managed for. We think that it is important to have that debate at the legislative level because the Constitution specifies that it is Congress' job to make the needful rules and regulations for the management of public property. And, if we can set the direction through legislation clearly, and that is a difficult task, but if we can set the direction for legislation clearly, it becomes much easier for the manager on the ground to know what she or he is supposed to be doing, in terms of what the priorities are.
We think that one of the biggest issues that we have got right now is lots of different priorities that have been handed down through a variety of different laws. Then it becomes very difficult to interpret which one of those mandates is most important. That is not atypical; this happens in all fields of public administration and public policy, but it has become a significant problem.
I think the second difference that I would highlight, I believe we are a little less sanguine about a more intensive public-participation process than the one that we have already seen. I think that there has come a time to really define what the purposes of public participation are in national forest and Bureau of Land Management planning. In my mind, those are not very clear right now, and we don't really say what the roles of those communities of place and communities of interest ought to be. I don't think that we are very clear about which decisions get made at which levels and, without being able to do that, it becomes difficult to participate, as a citizen, in the natural resource planning process.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, that if I were to go back and highlightI think what I will just emphasize here are two or three important findings out of our work. First, the purposes of the public lands and national forests are no longer clear. That has been a continuing theme in the literature for the last 20 years. The General Accounting Office has said that; the Congressional Research Services said that; the Office of Technology Assessment has said that. There are multiple documents in places in the literature that indicate that what we have got here arewe use the analogy of a roof that is leaking. And, that what we do is we keep adding a few shingles here and a few shingles there, but we think that the roof is still dripping inside and it is time to tear the shingles off and start again.
The second thing that we would point out is that we thinkand this was emphasized today and I want to reiterate thisthat multiple uses is a useful policy construct, but only in a broad regional or national level. And, I think it is important to specify that someplace. I would prefer to see that specified in legislation. I think that creates an awful lot of difficulty on the ground.
Third, we are not certain, we are not convinced, that the more intensive planning is going to resolve basic values differences. We see fundamental differences between what interest groups want from the public lands, and we are not certain that we can resolve those differences through a better planning process.
What else would I say? I guess my concern, my last concern, is that I think sustainability is a good goal, but I am not sure that it really translates into a clearly-defined set of purposes and priorities. I think that sustainability in a lot of ways is similar to multiple use or to sustained yield, or to ecosystem management, or a number of other terms of art that we use in natural resources management. When we talk to our own professional members about what those terms mean, there is very little agreement. It is important that we be clear about where we are going with that.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Floyd may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much, Dr. Floyd.
And, now, the Chair recognizes Mr. Udall.
Mr. Udall passes. The Chair does have some questions of Dr. Floyd.
You said that, at first place, your report and the Committee of Scientists' report differ because you feel the purposes of the national forests are unclear. Now, given the fact that in the National Forest Management Act the congressional purpose is pretty well stated
Dr. FLOYD. But there are many of them. And, which ones are most important? I think that is really what we would like to be able to begin to determine, through some kind of discussion or debate, is that if we are going to call ecological sustainability the most important purpose of these public lands, then let's say that, clearly, in legislation. Or, if protecting the soil and water, as Mrs. Napolitano said earlier, is what is most important, let's say that. But, right now, what we have really, if you look at the basic laws that drive the Forest Service, at leastI will talk about that rather than FLPMA, specificallyis that if you look at the Organic Act and the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act and then the National Forest Management Act, what you have is, essentially, a layer of three different statutes that are more than 100 years old in total, that have changed the direction gradually, and we think made unclear exactly what the priorities are.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I wonder, Dr. Floyd, if you would be willing to summarize the findings in your report in a few sentences. Specifically, I would like to know if the planning process is clear about which decision should be made, and when. And, then, will the regulatory changes alone be sufficient? I think you have elaborated on that, and it is my more than guessit is based on what I am hearing from youthat it is going to take legislative changes. But, is the planning process clear?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. FLOYD. The feedback that we got from members and citizens that we talked to was that there was a great deal of confusion about what happens in the national forest planning process and which decisions get made at which scales; what things are appealable at what decision. I am sure that you have heard that comment before. It is a pretty widely-reported phenomenon, I think.
Could that be simplified? I think it probably could be. And, I am not here to suggest that regulatory reform is not a part of this package and that regulatory reform should be avoided in some way. I think that both of these kinds of things have to advance. But, I really believe, ultimately, that we really need to clarify the purposes. I think that is the most important process.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now you mentioned that the Forest Service should be given a chance to develop regulations that implement the ideas outlined by the Committee of Scientists and others. Do you plan to evaluate those regulations based on your report, Dr. Floyd?
Dr. FLOYD. The Society of American Foresters does plan to undertake a review, both of the Committee of Scientists' report and of the proposed regulations.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now, will you also evaluate the chairman's proposed legislation for reduction of hazardous fuels in the wildland/urban interface and our proposal to seek expedited procedures for treatment of emergency situations, similar to that approved for the blowdown that occurred in Texas last year?
Dr. FLOYD. I have to tell you that I am not personally familiar withI read the Fuels Reduction Act last session, and we provided testimony on that. Our staff folks tell us that, yes, we will be happy to do that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. But on the need for parity as well?
Dr. FLOYD. Yes.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right, very good.
Well, Dr. Floyd, I really appreciate your comments, too. In fact, I have some questions that I personally want to present to you with regard to stated purposes. And, I would like for us to get our attorneys involved in it and really start focusing on this, because you bring out a very good point. We do need in the Congress, to provide the direction. So, I thank you very much for your comments, both of you.
And, Mr. Udall, do you have second thoughts on any questions?
Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. No second thoughts. Just I thank you for your hard work.
Dr. FLOYD. Thanks. It is a pleasure to be here.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. This panel is excused and we will recognize the next panel.
Ms. Mary Munson, who is the senior associate, Habitat Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, DC, and Mr. Bob Bierer, the director of forest management, American Forest and Paper Association in Washington, DC.
Let me ask you both to stand and raise your arm.
The Chair recognizes Ms. Munson for your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MARY MUNSON, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, HABITAT CONSERVATION, DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE
Ms. MUNSON. Thank you for the opportunity to testify. Defenders of Wildlife is a nonprofit organization with 300,000 members and supporters. We are dedicated to the protection of native wildlife in their natural habitats. I will summarize my remarks and request that I submit full written text for full insertion into the record.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Committee of Scientists' report offers an innovative, science-based approach for protecting structures, processes, and conditions to sustain wildlife and ecosystems. Overall, the report represents an improvement for planning and it expands the viability rule, making it, basically, more realistic to implement, and it reinforces ecological sustainability as the foundation of national forest stewardship.
The major challenges ahead, and our deepest concerns, are that the recommendations are adequately translated into regulations. The regulations, we believe, must contain clear standards for ecosystem integrity and species viability, as well as objective methods for determining whether the standards are being met.
The report establishes ecological sustainability as the foundation of national forest planning. Taken in totality, as several other people have testified, our national environmental laws reinforce this conclusion. We do not believe this is controversial, and we congratulate the committee for acknowledging its veracity.
A major innovation in the report, we believe, is its approach to wildlife protection, which I already touched upon. It reaffirms the notion that managing forests to maintain the viability of wildlife species is a cornerstone of biodiversity protection.
One of the major criticisms of the existing species viability regulation is that it is difficult to implement. The committee is proposing a trimmed-down, more efficient way to protect species viability without giving up that essential component, collecting and analyzing species population and trend data. Instead of requiring this assessment for all species, the committee applies it to a subset of surrogates known as focal species. We believe this compromise is fair and reasonable. The challenge for the agency is to produce regulations that define focal species in a way which is true to the committee's vision, so the agency is responsible for selecting truly representative surrogates for all species in the forest.
But because the subset of species evaluated by the Forest Service will be limited, it is essential that the regulations state that the collection of quantitative inventory data for those species is an indispensable duty. A recent 11th Circuit Court case, Sierra Club versus Martin, identified two sections of the current code of regulations that, taken together, require the Forest Service to gather quantitative data on MIS, which is the Management Indicator Species, and use it to measure the impact of habitat changes on forest diversity. That was how they interpreted those two regulations. These regulations are identified specifically in my full written testimony.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This is the role envisioned for focal species, and these sections should be taken as guides when rewriting the new regulations. Existing mandates also require gathering empirical data for threatened, endangered, and sensitive species as well.
The current viability regulation limits managers to ensuring viability only for vertebrate species. The report suggests that this be extended to non-vertebrate species as well. Also, we are pleased to see that a full range of natural conditions, processes, and habitats would also be protected under this new proposed planning regime. By including such a broad spectrum of criteria, beyond just viability of species, the approach reflects current thinking, and it has been adopted by international experts.
While we generally support the report's recommendations regarding ecological sustainability, we are concerned about some other aspects of the report. For example, it states that plan-implementation priorities for funding, in the face of budget shortfalls, are determined during a collaborative planning process. To be consistent with its conclusions about ecological sustainability, we believe that the regulations should clearly state that some elements in planning are simply not optional. Assessments, analysis, and monitoring or the viability of species are examples of indispensable planning steps. If there is no budget available for them, program activities should be curtailed. No collaborative group should be allowed the discretion to eliminate them.
One of the most pressing issues in national forests, roadless area protection, was given virtually no attention in the report. Defenders and many other organizations are concerned about the continual pressure applied by the Forest Service to enter those areas. The basis has been to push forward timber sales. What makes this so tragic is that these areas command low timber prices or have high administrative costs associated with them. However, these lands have very high values for use by wildlife and contain conditions and qualities that argue for leaving them roadless. The committee was remiss in leaving this out, we believe.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, finally, the report included discussions about collaborative stewardship, but did not point out the problems associated with self-appointed collaborative groups such as Quincy Library Group. There needs to be caution about embracing similar bodies and planning processes that engage them.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Munson may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Ms. Munson
The Chair recognizes Mr. Bierer.
STATEMENT OF BOB BIERER, DIRECTOR, FOREST MANAGEMENT, AMERICAN FOREST AND PAPER ASSOCIATION
Mr. BIERER. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I want to thank you for the opportunity today to provide some views of the American Forest and Paper Association on the report prepared by the Committee of Scientists. I am Bob Bierer. I am the Director of Forest Management for the association, and I am presenting my testimony today on behalf of AF&PA's member companies, associations, and allied groups. Many of our members are totally or partially dependent on timber coming from the national forests and other Federal lands.
As you know, Secretary Dan Glickman appointed the Committee of Scientists to evaluate the Forest Service land and resource management planning process and to provide recommendations for new planning regulations. Because our association has an intense interest in the agency's land management planning process, we have followed the committee's progress and deliberations closely through a series of public meetings and conference calls over a 15-month period, starting in December 1997. We have submitted background information for their consideration as well as written comments regarding the current Forest Service planning process.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the meetings that the committee held, they heard that the Forest Service has spent many millions of dollars and thousands of employee person-years, and conducted countless meetings and public comment periods, to develop the current forest plans for each national forest. But to what end? The agency is not committed to implementing the forest plans. No forest plan is being fully implemented at this time. The public is even more polarized than ever. Virtually every forest plan is appealed and litigated. Local communities and businesses cannot rely on the outputs they expect from the forest plans, and the cost of forest planning and project planning to implement the forest plans continues to skyrocket. Did the committee address these issues? In our opinion, from what we have seen reviewing the draft reports, only marginally.
We do have some concerns that I would like to share with you, based on our review of the draft. And, I have not had an opportunity to review the final.
First, the report has not undergone any scientific peer or public review. We heard some testimony from Secretary Lyons and from Chairman Johnson that they did not understand that to be a charge. We understood that it was a charge. We heard that at one of the early meetings, and so we were expecting the peer review to occur.
Why is that important? Well, the committee is recommending some modeling and theoretical stuff here that has never been field tested or operational. Especially in terms of the viability regulation, we feel it is very important to get some second opinions from other folks that are qualified, credentialed scientists, who probably have some differing views regarding some of these things, and might offer some other changes.
Secondly, we feel that the report recommends what is clearly a new mission for the Forest Service that is in conflict with much of its statutory mission. It stresses a sharp shift towards ecosystem preservation with ecological sustainability being the kingpin, and kind of ignores the Forest Service's statutory mandate of multiple-use management. As one of the committee members has noted, the focus on the preeminence of ecological sustainability, coupled with the new stringent viability regulations recommended in the report, would have the effect of operating the national forests as biological reserves.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This change goes well beyond the Secretary's charge ''to the committee to provide scientific and technical advice that can be made in the national forest land and resource management planning process,'' and that this be done ''within the established framework of environmental laws and within the statutory mission of the Forest Service.''
The third major area where we have concerns is that most of the fundamental flaws in the current forest planning process will not be corrected by the changes suggested in the report. Forest plan implementation, for example, is frequently disrupted by administrative fiat, the most recent example being the recent road moratorium. These top-down directives from Washington render the forest plans useless, undermining the ability of local managers and communities to manage based on local conditions, and overriding years of local negotiations and compromise that went into the development of current forest plans. No wonder that local residents feel betrayed and frustrated and that forest plans have no credibility.
The report acknowledges, but does little to address the problems of endless appeals that has plagued the forest plans and the planning process. It ignores other available successful models for handling appeals process, such as the pre-decisional appeals process used by the Bureau of Land Management.
Meaningful forest-plan implementation will remain impossible without basic reform to force the budget and planning processes to operate in concert. Plans without corresponding budgets cannot be implemented.
Madam Chairman, I would like to close with a quote from a recent editorial by former Chief Jack Thomas. He said that, ''We have learned, and continued to learn, a great deal about our forests. We know that the heavy hand of
one-size-fits-all government regulation does not land lightly or evenly. We know our crazy quilt of laws and policies often prevents management practices from working properly. And we know it is the stakeholders, the people, who stand to win or lose, who seem best situated to guide the decisionmaking to preserve their forests and protect lives and property.'' We fear, Madam Chairman, that the report has missed this mark.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Bierer may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much, Mr. Bierer.
The Chair, again, recognizes Mr. Udall for questions.
Mr. UDALL OF NEW MEXICO. I would just like to thank the panel for their comments and for their work on this issue.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Udall.
I would like to ask Ms. Munson my first set of questions. The courts have ruled that the Forest Service cannot be sued over the forest plan decisions, as I am sure you are aware. Given this ruling, what provisions are need in law or regulations to ensure interested parties have their concerns addressed in the forest planning process? And, the second part of that question is, does the Committee of Scientists' report provide this protection?
Ms. MUNSON. I am not sure what you mean. The Supreme Court opinion that you're referring to I believe is the one that it did say that you can appeal the forest plan in certain circumstances, but there are a number of circumstances where the court did leave it open that they could be appealed.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Could you specify the circumstances?
Ms. MUNSON. Well, they weren't real specific on it, but they just said that their opinion only applied to the specific circumstances of that case.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Which?
Ms. MUNSON. I can't recall exactly what it was right now, but I can get that information. But they made it very clear that they said there were cases, and there were actually later on in the case were given some new evidence that they said, if they had given the evidence earlier, they may have been able to rule on that.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The information follows:]
Ohio Forestry Association Inc., v. Sierra Club, decided by the Supreme Court on May 18, 1998, ruled that the Forest Plan for the Wayne National Forest could not be appealed based upon allegations that the plan permits too much logging and clearcutting. The court held that it was not ripe for judicial review until those activities were implemented. The reasoning was that the alleged harm was only theoretical, and ruling on it at this stage would circumvent the system set up by Congress for those plans to be revised or appealed after a decision is made. Thus the Court ruled out ''pre-enforcement'' challenges to the plan, where alleged harm would take place in the future.
However, it is my opinion that the Court was very clear that there are circumstances when forest plans can be appealed. In section III of the opinion, the Court declared that one of Sierra Club's arguments had validity, and if it had been presented in the original complaint, the ripeness analysis would have been ''significantly different.'' (However, the plaintiff had not made that argument in its original complaint). The argument was that the forest plan permitted many intrusive activities and omitted certain land use options that would have immediate effect on the forest. Thus, the Court essentially implied that plans could be appealed if it allowed intrusive activities, such as ''opening trails to motorcycles or using heavy machinery,'' which would have harmful effects on forests. They could also be appealed if plaintiffs alleged that activities that should take place in a forest area, such as ''affirmative measures to promote backcountry recreation,
such as closing roads and building additional hiking trails'' would be precluded by areas designated for logging by the plans. There may also be other circumstances where the facts of the situation differ, and the logging designations cause immediate, appealable harm. In any case, it is clear from this case that the logging components of the plan are appealable, given the right argument.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, it should also be mentioned that once a timber sale is contemplated or proposed on a forest, presumably the ''ripeness'' obstacle could be overcome even for the allegations that the plans allow too much logging and clearcutting.
The Supreme Court did not make a blanket prohibition on appealing forest plans, and in fact left open considerable opportunities to challenge them.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So the court did limit that opinion only to that set of circumstances?
Ms. MUNSON. The court did leave open the possibility of appealing forest plans given the proper circumstances.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now you indicated the regulations must contain very clear standards for ecosystem integrity and species viability and objective methods of determining whether the standards are being met. Would you share with the Committee how you would draft regulatory language just to do that, and could you submit your recommendations for the record?
Mr. MUNSON. I would be happy to. Just as an example, and I think that the Forest Service on-the-ground managers would agreethat language is needed that clearly identifies the manager's duty, and defines what that duty is. And, I don't think it is that they can't perform their existing duties; it's just that existing duties are not defined well in the current regulation. So what we are asking for is very similar to what the forest managers are asking for: clear standards that they can follow.
[The information follows:]
Clear standards and objective methods for determining whether the standards are met would include precisely defined duties and responsibilities for managers. For example, in regulations drafted to maintain diversity, the standard must indicate that managers must achieve a 90 percent probability of viability of all wildlife species, both vertebrate and invertebrate. To be clear, the standard must indicate the definition of ''viability.'' The Committee of Scientist's report recommends that a ''viable'' species have ''self-sustaining populations well-distributed throughout the species range. Self-sustaining populations, in turn, can be defined as those that have sufficient abundance and diversity to display the array of life-history strategies and forms that will provide for their persistence and adaptability in the planning area over time.'' The reason I have included ''90 percent probability'' is that scientists and managers have acknowledged that 100 percent probably of maintaining viability is
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCimpossible, given uncertainty and effects beyond the managers' control. But Court decisions and the necessity of achieving ecological sustainability require that managers allow the least risk possible. Thus I would recommend language that allows no less than 85 to 90 percent probability of survival.
Objective methods for achieving the viability standard must be contained in the regulations setting out the ''three-pronged strategy'' outlined by the Committee of Scientists to achieve viability (see page xix of their Report). These steps include selecting focal species and identifying their habitat needs, maintaining conditions to achieve ecological integrity, and monitoring the effectiveness of this approach. Objective methods must leave the managers no uncertainty about what they must do to perform those steps. Regulatory language is proposed by the Committee of Scientists, beginning on page p. 151 of the Committee's Report (version of the Report released on March 15, 1999. Pages may be altered in the final printed version, due to be published in April). This contains an outline of objective methods which I would support. For example, it lays out the criteria for selecting focal species, and the components of an effective, ongoing monitoring program. The Committee also recommends
independent, scientific review of the plan to achieve ecological sustainability. I agree with much of the other language in the Committee's draft language, and encourage the Subcommittee to review it.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now, regarding the committee's focal species approachand you know I have taken particular interest in thishow many species should be included in focal species?
Ms. MUNSON. However many species that the scientists on the ground feel are necessary.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now, you indicated that the collection of quantitative inventory data for the species is an indispensable duty. If that is the case, should the collection of that data be reviewable in appeals or by the court?
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MUNSON. The actual data collection? I'm sorry, I don't understand your question now.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Should the collection of that data be reviewable?
Ms. MUNSON. Absolutely, if data is not collected, the court should be able to rule on it. I think that the scientific information should validate any kind of management decision made, and where the data had not been collected, the decision should be appealable.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now, the focal species concept is brand-new, to me, anyway, and we seem to be embracing a whole new dimension here. Because of that, in your opinion, don't you think that that whole new dimension, that approach, should be peer-reviewed?
Ms. MUNSON. Well, I believe it has been. The concepts behind it have been peer-reviewed. I can provide the Committee with a list of articles that have been peer-reviewed and published, but although they don't call it focal species, they talk about surrogate approaches that do represent larger ecosystems.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Can you recall some of the
Ms. MUNSON. The names of them?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes.
Ms. MUNSON. Not off the cuff. I would be glad to provide it for the Committee, though.
[The information follows:]
The following reports and articles provide peer reviewed, scientific support for the focal species approach and/or the concepts underlying this approach.
Chapin, F.S. III, M.S. Torn, and M. Tateno. 1996. ''Principles of Ecosystem Sustainability.'' American Naturalist 148: 1016-1037.;
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Christensen, N.L., A.M. Bartuska, J.H. Brown, S. Carpenter, C. D'Antonio, R. Francis, J.F. Franklin, J.A. MacMahon, R.F. Noss, D. J. Parson, C.H. Peterson, M.G. Turner, and R.G. Woodmansee. 1996. The Report of the Ecological Society of America Committee on the Scientific Basis for Ecosystem Management. Ecological Applications 6: 665-691;
De Leo, G.A. and S. Levin. 1997. The multifaceted aspects of ecosystem integrity. Conservation Ecology [online] 1(1);
Keystone Center. 1991. Biological Diversity on Federal Lands. A report of the Keystone Policy Dialogue. The Keystone Center, Washington D.C.;
Mulder, B., B. Noon, T. Spies, M. Raphael, C. Palmer, A. Olsen, G. Reeves, and H. Welsh. In press. The strategy and design of the effectiveness monitoring program for the Northwest Forest Plan. General Technical Report PNW-XXX. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right, thank you.
Mr. Bierer, why do you suggest a scientific peer review and public review of the Committee of Scientists' report be completed before the Forest Service attempts to utilize this report as basis for new planning regulations?
Mr. BIERER. That is a good question, Madam Chairman. One of the reasons that I think it is very important is that, although the committee was made up of 13 excellent and super-qualified folks, there were some expertise that was not represented on the committee. I think in terms of a geologist, there was nobody looking at geology or the minerals state or mineral resources. Having coming from a background working with the Bureau of Land Management, I certainly appreciate the need to look at both the surface and the subsurface resources when you deal with land management.
Another reason that I feel that a scientific peer review is very important is that there has been no outside look at this report. It has been done internally, and although Jim Lyons indicated earlier, I think in his testimony, that the data was posted timely on the website and available for public review, I would beg to differ. I found that that was very frustrating; the data was not kept current on the website, and it was a difficult process to follow.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thirdly, I just feel, and our members feel, that there are things like the viability regulations that are untested, and we should have some other folks looking at that proposal and offering their suggestion and thoughts on that kind of approach before we apply it to 191 million acres.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, Mr. Bierer, how would you describe the process used by the committee in developing this report and this plan?
Mr. BIERER. It was a very interesting process to follow, Madam Chairman. No offense to the committee members, but sometimes, especially listening on the conference calls that they held, it was kind of like listening to a soap opera unfold, in that there were all kinds of different dialogues going in different directions. As I pointed out, I also found it very difficult to obtain current information. When we listened on the conference calls, for instance, they would be working from a draft that had been just circulated and that had not been available to members of the public, like Mary and myself, who were trying to track the development of the report. Sometimes, in my opinion, it seemed like the content format boiled down to who became the most obstinate and refused to back off of their position. So that became the position or that type of format was ultimately selected.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Bierer. You indicated earlier in your testimony that it was your recollection that peer review and field testing would be a part of the submission.
Mr. BIERER. Yes, Madam Chairman. It is my recollection that was stated by Under Secretary Lyons at their first meeting in Chicago, that he wanted the report to be peer-reviewed.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. Well, I want to thank the panel very much for your testimony, and it has been a very, very long hearing, but this is such an interesting subject, and the chairman was very liberal in the five-minute rule. Usually I bring the hammer down right at five minutes, but I was so interested in hearing what the committee had to say, and I am looking forward to studying the entire report. Again, I want to thank all of you very much for all of the effort that you have made in investing in the report, and we will continue to work together, I hope, in good solid results.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I do want to say that the record will remain open for five days, should any of you wish to amend your testimony or add to it. And, we will be sending to you additional questions. I think we would be here until 10 or 11 tonight if I expected you to answer all the questions we have been able to conjure up here. But it is a very interesting subject, and I do have more questions.
[The information may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So, again, I want to thank you all very much. Please excuse the length of this hearing. We did have a vote early on and we got started late. But, again, thank you very much for you good work and for your patience.
And, with that, this hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 5:25 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES R. LYONS, UNDER SECRETARY, NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you the final report of the Committee of Scientists. The Committee was chartered and appointed by Secretary Glickman in the fall of 1997 to review the present forest planning process as well as propose revisions to the current regulation and recommend improvements in the development of future land and resource management plans (LRMPs). Today I want to help put the Committee's report in context by discussing the status of forest plans, the rationale for establishing this Committee and conducting its review, and the ways in which the Department and the Forest Service intend to use the Committee report and recommendations to improve forest planning and management in the future.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In accordance with Section 6 of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) (16 U.S.C. 1600), the Secretary of Agriculture ''shall develop, maintain, and, as appropriate, revise land and resource management plans for units of the National Forest System. . . .'' In the two plus decades since the enactment of RPA, as amended by the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), there has been considerable debate surrounding planning.
Initially following enactment of the NFMA, the Forest Service promulgated rules for implementation of the planning requirements. Although completed in 1979, no forest plans were ever completed under these rules. Soon after the Reagan Administration took office, then USDA Assistant Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, John Crowell, withdrew these planning rules and sought to revise them. Such controversy was generated as a result, that the Committee of Scientists involved in the development of the first set of rules was reconvened and enlisted to work on what eventually became the 1982 LRMP rules.
Under the 1982 rules, 127 forest plans have been developed. However, in accordance with the planning statute, LRMPs are to be revised at least once every 15 years. By the end of FY 1999, 12 of the 127 LRMPs will have completed revision. An additional 39 plan revisions are due in CY 2000 and CY 2001. At present, we are concerned that in CY 2000, eleven plans may go beyond their 15-year due date, and an additional 28 plans may pass their 15 year cycle in CY 2001.
Much has been learned in developing, implementing, and litigating the 127 forest plans and the numerous plan amendments and revisions that have been completed during the past two decades. Several reviews of the planning process have been conducted, leading the Forest Service to seek revisions to the 1982 regulations.
When the Clinton Administration first took office, one of the first documents for our consideration was a proposal to rewrite the forest planning regulations. We elected not to proceed with this proposal, but instead began working with the Forest Service on a new approach to the rules. This effort led to the issuance of draft rules in 1995, but, based on the comments we received from the public, our lessons learned from our experiences in developing the President's Northwest Forest Plan, regional assessments and other regional ecosystem management strategies were not reflected adequately in the draft rules. In short, our experience was outpacing our ability to incorporate it fast enough in the draft rule.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC After working two more years on applying ecosystem management strategies on the ground, the Secretary, the Chief and I felt more confident about taking on the task of rewriting the regulations to incorporate an overall strategy for consistently applying ecosystem management across our forests and grasslands. As a starting point, the Secretary decided to use his authority under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) to convene a Federal advisory committee of scientists of diverse backgrounds to provide advice on revising the planning regulations.
Secretary Glickman directed the committee to make recommendations on how to best accomplish sound resource planning within the statutory mission of the Forest Service and the established framework of environmental laws. The committee also was asked to provide technical advice on the planning process and provide information for the Forest Service to consider in revising the planning regulations. Finally, the committee was to recommend improvements in Forest Service coordination with other Federal, state and local agencies, and tribal governments while recognizing the unique roles and responsibilities of each agency in the planning process. In my first meeting with the Committee of Scientists, I emphasized that the Secretary and I wanted the committee to develop a conceptual framework for land and resource management planning that could last a generation.
The committee met in cities in each region of the country and heard from Forest Service employees, representatives of tribes, state and local governments and other Federal agencies, members of the public, former Chiefs of the Forest Service and members of the original Committee of Scientists. They shared their concerns and offered ideas about the current planning process as well as the current management of national forests and grasslands.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the outset, Madam Chairman, I want to acknowledge that some have argued that NFMA is broken and that the environmental laws that guide national forest management are, themselves, no longer manageable. I disagree. On principle, these laws remain sound and reflect the evolution of American interest and concern for our lands, air, water, and wildlife. In addition, we have not exhausted the flexibility within these laws to improve their implementation. Only after we have exhausted this flexibility, should we revisit the basic statutes.
This Committee of Scientists was carefully selected to represent balanced views, experience, and academic backgrounds. Together, they have a breadth of expertise and a sum of experiences that well-qualified them to undertake this review. Their task was not easy. And, at times, differences of professional opinion boiled over. Yet, the recommendations they offer provide an important foundation for new directions in forest planning and management which we will seek to reflect in new forest planning rules.
Much of what we know about forestry and forest management has changed since the 1982 NFMA regulations were developed.
Science has assumed a much stronger role as a foundation for national forest management.
We are focusing more on managing the sum of the partson entire ecosystemsrather than single species or outcomes. The cumulative effects of management activities over time and over larger parts of the landscape are considered, regardless of whether or not they occur within a specific national forest boundary.
The concept of ''adaptive management'' encourages changes in management emphasis and direction as new, scientific information is developed. Of course, this requires more effective monitoring of management actions and their effects.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Regional ecosystem assessments have become the foundation for more comprehensive planning, sometimes involving multiple forests and other public land management units. The President's Northwest Forest Plan, for example, affected 17 national forests and 6 BLM districts in a three state region. The Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Project will affect lands encompassing 25 percent of the entire national forest system and 10 percent of the public lands administered by the BLM nationwide.
The number of agencies participating in management decisions has grown. Agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NMFS, and the EPA are now partners in the planning process, as well as states and tribes, as appropriate.
The unit of analysis for management decisions has changed to a focus on watersheds discrete and ecologically intact units on the landscape. As a result, discrete administrative units such as national forests, are proving less useful for resource management purposes.
Our view of communities is changing. We no longer think solely in terms of ''timber dependent communities,'' but instead recognize that other resource outputs and values affect community well-being. And, we are working more with communities, in partnership, to develop resource management strategies.
The public's role in forest planning and decision-making is also changing. Collaboration has replaced litigation in some instances. In others, the courts continue to play a significant role in shaping forest policy.
New science, new technology, and a renewed emphasis on seeking greater involvement on the part of the public and other agencies in the planning process warranted a new look at how we go about planning the management of the national forests. With this in mind, the Committee was encouraged to be bold and creative in their thinking and ask tough questions of the agency and others regarding the current planning process.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As Gifford Pinchot stated nearly a century ago in offering his perspective on managing the national forests,
''National Forests are made for and owned by the people. They should also be managed by the people . . . . If National Forests are going to accomplish anything worthwhile the people must know all about them and must take a very active part in their management. What the people as a whole want will be done. To do it, it is necessary that the people carefully consider and plainly state just what they want and then take a very active part in seeing that they get it.''
The Committee's report paints a refreshing picture of the future for forest management and planning. The Committee acknowledges that they were surprised to learn that innovations in planning and collaborative partnerships already abound on many national forests and grasslands. Of necessity, many forest managers and Forest Service regions have developed innovative ways to commingle science and collaborative public processes to improve land management decisions.
As we believed would be the case, these innovative strategies provided a good starting point for the committee to use in developing a more integrated, long-lasting, and flexible planning framework. The committee's recommendations would do away with the one-size fits all approach to planning. Its proposed framework provides flexibility to managers in dealing with a multitude of resource issues at various scales across the landscape. Most importantly, the framework calls for managers to integrate public collaboration with science to identify desired future conditions of these lands that represent sustainable management. As pathways to achieving these conditions, forest plans should include adaptive practices, monitoring, performance and measures budgeting strategies. All should be linked to achieving desired future conditions with the underlying tenet of ensuring sustainability.
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Ecological Sustainability: Foundation for Management
Based on this strong foundation, we strongly support the committee's recommendation that ecological sustainability should be a foundation for management of the national forest system. Managing for ecological sustainability will provide the public with a long-lasting flow of benefits from forests and grasslands, including clean air and water, productive soils, biological diversity, goods and services, employment opportunities, and broaden community benefits. I believe, in fact, that this is simply a reaffirmation of the direction provided to Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, by then Secretary Wilson which stated, ''. . . where conflicting interests must be reconciled the question will always be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number In the long run.''
We agree with the committee that conserving habitat for native species and the productivity of ecological systems remains the surest path to maintaining ecological sustainability. To accomplish this, the committee suggests that the agency maintain: (1) the viability of selected ''focal'' species and their habitat needs; (2) maintain conditions necessary for ecological integrity; and (3) monitor their effectiveness.
As many of you know, our current regulations require the agency to ensure viable populations of wildlife in our forests. In addition, as the agency has developed a keener understanding of how our forested watersheds function through management and research, it has undertaken to preserve and enhance these functions. In other words, we are working towards these objectives already, but we can improve the means by which we achieve these ends. Therefore, we welcome the committee's recommendations and will evaluate them closely as we propose the draft rule.
At all levels of planning, we agree that ecological sustainability is inextricably linked to social and economic sustainability. We must manage our forests to ensure that they are healthy and able to provide present and future economic and social contributions to society. At the same time, to achieve sustainability, the agency now relies and will continue to rely on the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit and investment of people in communities locally and elsewhere. We have a lot of work to do in the forests to achieve our goals and we cannot do it without people and healthy economies. Achieving ecological sustainability also means identifying the important social values of these lands to all, including Native Americans, and preserving or enhancing them.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC From a management perspective, this concept of ecological sustainability has evolved in practice over the years since the passage of the 1897 Organic Act. And, from a legal perspective, a host of laws since then has decisively affirmed the overarching responsibility of the Forest Service to manage these lands in an ecologically sustainable way in order to ensure that multiple use values are preserved. The proposed regulation should encapsulate the multi-faceted policy of sustainabilitya policy whose meaning has certainly evolved since 1897.
Involving the Public and Others to Gain Understanding
We strongly support the committee's recommendation to make public collaboration and coordination with other Federal, state, local and tribal entities one of the main elements of the new planning framework. As stated in the report, collaborative planning creates opportunities for people and organizations to work together to find agreement on a common vision for future land conditions. In doing so, the planning process would cultivate an understanding around problems and issues as well as strategies and actions. The overall purpose of this effort is to build effective stewardship for sustainability.
The agency has been experimenting with ways to involve the public earlier in the planning process to identify problems and solutions. The committee supports this and calls for even more vigorous involvement at all stages of the planning process. For example, the committee strongly recommends that the agency and the public look beyond the forest boundaries to determine the role that national forests play in ecosystems and communities. It is a starting point in helping the agency and the public determine future desired conditions when people understand the role the forests play or have played in the ecosystem.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We agree with the committee that even with more collaborative relationships and shared understanding of the planning process, conflicts will remain. However, through collaboration, the scope of the conflicts may be narrowed and the public will have a better understanding of how and why decisions are reached and a stronger role in affecting these decisions.
Integrating Science and Accountability into Collaborative Planning:
Assessments, Adaptive Management, Monitoring
Budgeting and Performance Measures
As components of highly complex ecosystems, forests are always changing. The agency always will be working with imperfect approximations of conditions. However, we agree with the committee that credible scientific assessments at both large and small scales, as deemed appropriate, can shed light on tough issues, guiding the decision maker and the public toward identifying problems and reaching solutions. Assessments can be used for a number of reasons, such as identifying issues of special importance; laying the groundwork for developing regional conservation strategies; improving inventories; and providing the context for planning.
The agency currently uses large and small scale assessments, such as the Sierra Nevada and the Interior Columbia Basin assessment efforts for some of these purposes. For example, recently, in tackling the pine beetle infestation affecting the Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Dave Wright not only used the Interior Columbia Scientific Assessment as a guide, but he initiated an intermediate level assessment over a large area of the Panhandle, and then a smaller-scale assessment at a more site specific level to determine the scope of the problem as well as possible solutions. The Forest Service was pleased with the outcome of this analysis and the range of alternatives in the Draft EIS which is out for public comment.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the most important aspect of this recommendation is that the agency should decide, after involving the public, at what scale to conduct its assessments. Management decisions would be matched to the scope and scale of the issues addressed. Issues or problems can be addressed at the regional, large, or small, or a combination of the three, depending on the need.
Assessments and other scientific information can help shape problems and issues as well as a common vision for the future conditions and outcomes of the national forests. This is as essential to the planning process as focusing on a schedule of management actions needed to reach desired future conditions. Ensuring that the forests and regions stay on track will require adapting to changing conditions; therefore, monitoring and adaptive management strategies are essential to forest plans. Underlying these efforts must be land managers' commitment to measuring performance regularly and adjusting management strategies when desired future conditions are not being met. The agency is already working on land based performance measures which will be implemented by 2001.
In addition, forest managers, as they develop forest plans, need to be realistic about their budgets. The committee recommends, and we strongly agree, that a nexus needs to exist between the plan, the budget and the public's expectations.
Other recommendations in the report underscore the need for science and research to play an integral part in the development and implementation of forest plans. Without the science, achieving desired future conditions will be difficult, if not impossible, because we have no way to ensure that our management strategies are working. We have known for years that science is integral to management, but our efforts presently are falling short due to lack of funding and an inconsistent commitment on the part of the agency. We believe that a planning regulation with more rigorous adaptive management and monitoring requirements is definitely needed, but we are mindful of budget constraints.
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Watersheds and Timber Supply: Traditional
Focuses in Achieving Sustainability
The Organic Act and NFMA both recognize the importance of watershed protection and timber supplies from National Forest System lands. The committee recommends that strategies for achieving healthy watersheds must be integrated with collaborative planning processes at all levels. I strongly agree with the Committee's belief that watersheds must be restored and maintained to achieve sustainability. As you know, restoration and maintenance of healthy watersheds is one of the primary goals of the Forest Service's Natural Resources Agenda. As stated earlier, the agency now uses watershed assessments to guide management decisions, particularly in the Pacific NW and California. The agency also collaborates with interested parties, Indian tribes, and other Federal state and local agencies to achieve watershed goals.
I also agree with the committee that a functioning timber industry can help the Forest Service accomplish long-term timber stand and landscape objectives, just as predictable timber supplies from the national forests help the timber industry and surrounding communities. Communities need as much certainty as possible in planning for their futures. A collaborative planning process, using assessments and scientific information, adaptive management and monitoring to develop strategies to achieve desired future conditions can result in watershed protection and timber harvest that contributes to long-term sustainability for forests and communities.
The Committee of Scientists exceeded my expectations in responding to the Secretary's direction. Indeed, the Committee's work verifies that the mission of the agency is very clear, to sustain these forests and grasslands for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. We have been striving to meet this charge, but we can do it better with more clarity, purpose, coordination and consistency, as indicated in the report. For this very reason, the agency needs to move forward to write a new forest planning rule, incorporating much of what it already knows from practice and building upon the strong foundation established by this Committee report.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, the Secretary and I are very grateful for the committee's public service in writing this report. I want to thank the committee for giving us this opportunity today to discuss this report and now I will let Chief Dombeck add a few more comments before turning it over to Dr. Norm Johnson, chairman of the committee.
Thank you, again, for the opportunity to join you today.
STATEMENT OF MIKE DOMBECK, CHIEF, USDA FOREST SERVICE
Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: I appreciate the opportunity to join Under Secretary Lyons and Dr. Norman Johnson, Chairman of the Committee of Scientists, as we discuss the Committee of Scientists' final report. I will share with you my expectations for taking the report's scientific and technical recommendations and drafting a new set of planning regulations.
I believe the Forest Service's 192 million acres of national forests and grasslands should be the model for other landowners and other nations about how we can live in productive harmony with the lands and waters that sustain us all.
The National Forest System (NFS), comprising public land in 42 States and Puerto Rico consists of 155 National Forests, 20 National Grasslands, and other lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture. These lands provide a variety of public uses and an enduring supply of goods and services for the American people consistent with its statutory mandates.
During the twenty three years since the National Forest Management Act's (NFMA) enactment, uses of public lands have increased and much has been learned about the planning and management of National Forest System lands. NFMA's premise of land and resource management planning promoted public participation and improved interdisciplinary management of resource stewardship. Nonetheless, based on our knowledge today, we now know we can do an even better job of integrating science and the public's participation for the next round of forest planning.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Land and resource management planning cannot, and should not, be expected to resolve all problems; however, improved planning can refine the focus of many issues, expand available choices, and enhance public service.
So much of the debate over natural resources today seems to focus on those things about which people disagree. Yet, as I am sure you will agree, there is common ground for us to walk on and chart a new course toward sustainability. After nearly two years of study, the Committee of Scientists' report illustrates that there are many similarities in various perspectives on how to manage our national forests and grasslands.
We all share the belief that we cannot allow multiple use of these lands to diminish the land's productivity. Moreover, the land's ability to support communities depends on taking care of the land's health, diversity, and productivity. This certainly is consistent with the multiple use, sustained yield mandate.
To achieve this balance, we must build the capacity for stewardship among communities of place and communities of interest.
The best available science from all sources must be used to help identify options for decisions on the landscape. Additionally, we would likely all agree that continued multiple use management of our national forests and grasslands is appropriate.
The American people are less concerned about encyclopedic environmental impact statements and phone book size forest plans than they are about tangible results such as cleaner water, better habitat, abundant populations of fish and wildlife, stable soils, and so on. That is the essence of the Forest Service natural resource agenda. Combined with the recommendations of the Committee of Scientists, we will craft a new set planning regulations that better meets the expectations of the citizen-owners of public lands.
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Development of a New Planning Rule
Forest plans are documents of the public trust, they are the delivery systems for public benefits from national forests and grasslands. Without scientifically based forest planning, the agency cannot provide management that is credible, legally sound, and responsive to public interests.
As stewards of the public trust, we know that our forests and grasslands will confer economic, social, and other benefits on people and communities nationwide only as long as we manage them in a way that maintains their health, diversity, and long term productivity. Forest planning is the pathway to achieving this end result.
Based upon the Committee of Scientists' recommendations, ecological sustainability will lay a critical foundation for fulfilling the intent of laws and regulations guiding the public use and enjoyment of national forests and grasslands.
To promote vibrant ecological, social, and economic environments, our proposed planning regulations will deliver a collaborative planning process designed to engage the public and apply the best available scientific information.
We will build upon over two decades of experience and advice regarding the principles and practice of land and resource planning and management.
We will simplify and streamline the current planning process. It will facilitate conversation rather than confuse; encourage rather than impede communication.
Watershed maintenance and restoration are the oldest and highest callings of the Forest Service. The agency is, and always will be, bound to them by law, science, and tradition. The national forests truly are, the headwaters of the nation. I mention this because I firmly believe that if we take care of our watersheds, if we allow them to perform their most basic functions of catching, storing and safely releasing water over time, they will take care of us. Hence it is my expectation that future forest plans will develop strategies and document how we will:
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maintain and restore watershed function, including flow regimes, to provide for a wide variety of benefits from fishing, to groundwater recharge, to drinking water;
conduct assessments that will characterize current conditions and help make informed decisions about management activities, protection objectives, and restoration potential;
protect, maintain and recover native aquatic and riparian dependent species and prevent the introduction and spread of non-native species;
monitor to ensure we accomplish our objectives in the most cost-effective manner, adapt management to changing conditions, and validate our assumptions over time;
include the best science and research, local communities, partners, tribal governments, states, and other interested citizens in collaborative watershed restoration and management, and
provide opportunities to link social and economic benefits to communities through restoration strategies.
Many of our forest plans contemplate the use of management regimes which are simply now out of synch with the public's expectations and science. As an example, many forest plans project the use of even-age management or clearcutting, when that practice in many cases, is inconsistent with science and the public's expectations. The Forest Service very much needs to revise its planning regulations to get on with the job of managing these lands consistent with the best science and public needs.
A Forest Service team will employ the committee's recommendations in preparing proposed planning regulations. The planning framework will build on the work of the committee and highlight the role of sustainable natural environments and the actions necessary to provide strong, productive economies, enduring human communities, and the variety of benefits sought by American citizens.
It is anticipated that revisions of the planning manual will accompany or soon follow the proposed planning regulation. Both of these are anticipated for public review and comment this Spring. At that time, we would like to hear from a wide variety of people regarding our proposed planning procedures.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This concludes my prepared remarks. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
STATEMENT OF DR. DONALD W. FLOYD, CHAIR, SOCIETY OF AMERICAN FORESTERS TASK FORCE ON PUBLIC LANDS
Madam Chairman, my name is Don Floyd, Chair of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) Task Force that has been studying the management of the national forests and BLM public lands since December of 1996. The product of that work is the report you have before you entitled Forest of Discord. This report represents the collective wisdom of the almost 18,000 members of the Society that constitute the scientific and educational association representing the profession of forestry in the United States. SAF's primary objective is to advance the science, technology, education, and practice of professional forestry for the benefit of society. We are ethically bound to advocate and practice land management consistent with ecologically sound principles. I am especially pleased to be here today and I thank the Subcommittee for its continued support of professional forestry. I thank the Chair for the opportunity.
I am not here today to give a response to the Committee of Scientists report. Like our report, theirs took a great deal of time to develop and is at least 100 pages. It will take SAF considerable time to provide a scholarly review of their important work. We have committed to this review, and will make it available to this Subcommittee, the Department of Agriculture, and the public as soon as we complete it. In addition to SAF's formal review, the May Journal of Forestry is devoted to the Committee of Scientists report and will contain analysis from leading scholars reflecting a variety of viewpoints.
I wish to briefly describe the process we used to develop our report. The Task Force represents natural resource professionals from all employment sectors and regions of our membership. They are an excellent group of people and it was an honor to work with them. Our charter was different than the Committee of Scientists in that we were to look beyond the planning regulations and examine all the laws and regulations that affect the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Our charter reminded me of the charge to the last Public Land Law Review Commission in the 1960s. It was, at times, an overwhelming task.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As part of our process, we met with the SAF membership at national conventions, state society meetings, and one on one. We also visited field offices of the Forest Service and spoke to BLM managers. The Society's Forest Science and Technology Board and Committee on Forest Policy have reviewed and approved the report. In addition, scholars both inside and outside the SAF membership have reviewed the report. The SAF Council (our board of directors) endorsed the report on March 10, 1999, after a very deliberate debate on its contents.
In developing our report I made a conscience effort not to review the Committee of Scientists' work. I felt this would ensure some independence of thought. I have now read some drafts of their report, and the executive summary released yesterday. It is remarkable to find so many similarities between the two efforts. I am pleased that our report and the Committee of Scientists' report offer a platform for Congress and the Administration to put aside their differences and begin the overdue discussion about priorities for conservation.
Madam Chairman, as I mentioned there are similarities between the two reports. If I was forced to find a difference after my initial screening of the Committee of Scientists' report, I believe that difference is that we call for new legislation. The SAF believes that the purposes of the national forest and public lands are no longer clear. After careful analysis we hold the belief that multiple use, when viewed as a guiding principle for all forest lands, has become an engine of conflict that pits one interest group against another and denies land managers a clear mandate. Bob Wolf (formerly of the
Congressional Research Service) compares multiple use to a product created accidentally in a G.E. laboratory over 50 years ago. He states ''Silly Putty can be shaped, but if left for a few minutes it reverts to its indeterminate mass. Multiple use has the same characteristic: it can be stated specifically . . . but it defies meaningful description when one seeks to portray examples on the ground.'' Congress has the constitutional responsibility to set policy for the national forests and public lands and should act decisively to establish clear priorities for their management. Congress should work cooperatively with the Administration to develop new legislation. This legislation should articulate that multiple use is not necessarily appropriate on every management unit, but may be better applied in the aggregate across that national forests and public lands. It should also spell out how to rectify perceived conflicts between our revered environmental laws and our land management statutes.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Society of American Foresters is a group of professionals trying to solve problems to benefit society. We are not the timber industry, we are not the environmental community, we represent all these interests in our membership and like to think of ourselves as moderates. We do want change. We want better forest management. Our concern is not how it is achieved, as long as it is achieved. The Administration does not believe new legislation is needed. The Congress does not believe the Administration can fix the problems through new regulations. If bipartisan solutions cannot be developed, I fear that our effort and that of the Committee of Scientists will be just another in a series of discarded reports. Perhaps we should not be called moderates but idealists, as we believe that a bipartisan Congress and the Administration should work together to develop new regulations and new legislation to address these important issues. This will take a commitment to negotiate in good faith, with a clear goal of balancing the legitimate public values for national forests and public lands.
The Committee of Scientists ''believes that sustainability in all its facetsecological, economic, and socialshould be the guiding star for stewardship of the national forests and grasslands.'' We strongly agree with this concept, and we think the American people do as well. We all would be angry if the Forest Service and the BLM were not good stewards and if sustainability was not the agencies' primary goal. We do believe, however, that sustainability is a goal but does not clearly define the purpose of these national lands. The SAF feels the questions of sustainability for whom and for what have not yet been answered. This is why we call for a cooperative approach between Congress, the Administration, and others to develop new legislation to clarify the purposes of the national forests and public lands.
We believe our report presents a framework to ask the people, through Congress and the Administration, to define the purposes. This does not mean that we believe the Forest Service should not develop new regulations for the forest planning process. That effort should move forward based on the excellent work of the Committee of Scientists and other organizations and individuals interested in the national forests.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As we reinvigorate the national dialogue about the purposes of the national forests and public lands we would like to see change in the following areas:
Improving the planning process
Resource management plans and subsequent monitoring strategies should provide an appropriate range of diverse, resilient aquatic and terrestrial communities.
Resource management plans should identify and quantify (to the extent feasible) appropriate goals and outcomes, including vegetation management goals, and commodity and amenity outputs.
The plans should compare and contrast the goals and outcomes with recent performance, highlighting situations where a significant change in direction is proposed.
Plans should indicate expected financial performance and expected economic and environmental consequences (including economic and social stability, downstream air and water quality and other environmental effects).
The goals and outputs (including fiscal expectations and downstream effects) should be set forth in a manner that provides a basis for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting agency performance.
Both citizen participation and professional discretion are important in resource management planning. Citizens clearly have a responsibility to make their wishes known, and professional resource managers have a duty to listen carefully to the public.
Public participation at the local level should enrich, not paralyze, implementation of national or regional policy goals. Congress must clearly define the role of local participation with regard to national policy directives. National and regional decisions should be shaped through national and regional participation.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Both Forest Service and BLM forest planning regulations should identify the analyses and decisions that must be made at each planning level.
Forest or area plans and resource management plans should identify necessary monitoring as well as the type, location, and intensity of measurements needed. Monitoring should be cost effective and should concentrate on key outcomes. The monitoring plan should be part of the decision document.
Both Forest Service and BLM forest planning regulations should provide a systematic means for addressing new information, including the results of monitoring. This should include ways to preserve or protect values of concern while the new information is examined for scientific validity and incorporated into analyses and decisions, but without overriding or invalidating the planned targets and budgets.
Experimentation should be encouraged, but it should be limited to certain conditions. Authority for experiments should be constrained until the agencies have demonstrated that adequate controls are in place.
Any legislation designed to improve the planning process should be clear in its relationship to existing planning legislation.
Financing land management
A variety of experimental programs exist for collecting revenues from recreational users and nontraditional forest products. These programs should be expanded. If, for example, watershed management is reemphasized, Congress must address how to pay for it, or how it can pay for itself.
Forest or area plans should explain how the goals and outcomes would be affected by differing budgets. Annual reporting on agency performance can then compare and contrast the goals and outcomes of the plan with the requested budgets and actual allocations.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Use of the trust funds and special accounts should be reviewed and modified if necessary. Administrative reform is warranted before legislative changes are considered. The agencies should use care to ensure that projects funded through these accounts meet the legislative intent Congress had when developing the accounts.
Congress should continue to examine the adequacy of payments in lieu of taxes and other compensation programs to ensure that the states and counties are fairly and consistently compensated for the tax-exempt status of Federal lands.
Madam Chairman, I believe you will see many similarities between the Committee of Scientists' report and the recommendations I have outlined. Our hope is that everyone who cares about the management of our public lands and national forests will carefully consider these two reports. While we differ in the institutions we would pick to make these changes, both the Committee of Scientists and the Society of American Foresters have the same goal: ensuring the health of the land.
This concludes my statement. Thank you for the opportunity to present our views today. I will be happy to answer any questions at this time.
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STATEMENT OF MARY MUNSON, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, HABITAT CONSERVATION
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the Committee of Scientists' historic report. Defenders of Wildlife is a nonprofit organization with 300,000 members and supporters, dedicated to the protection of native wildlife in their natural habitats. On behalf of Defenders, I welcome your interest in forest planning and management, and your willingness to hear the views of the environmental community on this important issue.
In their report, the Committee of Scientists states that protecting biodiversity is vital to public lands stewardship. To carry that out, it offers an innovative, science-based approach for protecting structures, processes and conditions to sustain wildlife and ecosystems. Overall, the report represents an improvement for planning regulations by strengthening and expanding viability rule and reinforcing ecological sustainability as the foundation of national forest stewardship. The major challenges ahead, and our deepest concern, is that these recommendations are adequately translated into regulations. The regulations must contain clear standards for ecosystem integrity and species viability, as well as objective methods of determining whether the standards are being met.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The report establishes ecological sustainability as the foundation of national forest planning. This conclusion is widely accepted among conservation biologists. It is also intuitively obvious. How can the wide range of uses occur over time if they are harming the conditions necessary to bring them about? Taken in totality, our national environmental laws reinforce this conclusion. We do not believe this is controversial and congratulate the Committee for acknowledging its veracity.
A major innovation in the report is its approach to wildlife protection. It reaffirms the notion that managing forests to maintain the viability of wildlife species is a cornerstone of biodiversity protection. One of the major criticisms of the existing species viability regulation is that it is difficult to implement. Many witnesses that came before the Committee claimed it was unworkable, since it had been interpreted to require scientific evaluations of all species. The Committee is proposing a trimmed down, more efficient way to protect species viability without giving up that essential component, collecting and analyzing species population and trend data. Instead of requiring this assessment for all species, the Committee applies it to a subset of surrogates known as ''Focal Species.''(see footnote 1) We believe this compromise is fair and reasonable. The challenge for the agency is to produce regulations that define Focal Species in a way which is true to the Committee's vision, so the agency is responsible for selecting truly representative surrogates for all species in the forest.
But because the subset of species evaluated by the Forest Service will be limited, it is essential that the regulations state that the collection of quantitative inventory data for those species is an indispensable duty. Since the Committee emphasizes that monitoring and adaptive management are integral to planning, data collection for the designated surrogate species must be done on an ongoing basis. Currently, two important sections of the Code of Federal Regulations36 CFR Sections 219.19 and 219.26, which apply to Management Indicator Species (MIS)might be examined as models, substituting the ''Focal Species'' for MIS. We believe that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on February 8, 1994 in Sierra Club v. Martin defined the intent of those CFR sections as consistent with the intent of the Committee in data collection, assessment and monitoring for Focal Species. Section 219.19(a)(6) states that ''[p]opulation trends of the management indicator species will be monitored and relationships to habitat changes determined.'' Section 219.26 states that diversity must be considered throughout the planning process, and that ''[i]nventories shall include quantitative data making possible the evaluation of diversity in terms of its prior and present conditions.'' In Martin, the Court held that those sections, taken together, ''require the Forest Service to gather quantitative data on MIS and use it to measure the impact of habitat changes on the forest diversity.'' This is the role envisioned for Focal Species, and these sections should be taken as guides when rewriting the new regulations. They should also be used as models for gathering empirical data for threatened, endangered and sensitive species as well.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The current viability regulation limits managers to ensuring viability for only vertebrate species. The Report suggests that this be extended to non-vertebrate native species as well. Also, a full range of natural conditions, processes and habitats would be protected under the proposed planning regime. By including such a broad spectrum of criteria and indicators, the approach reflects current thinking that has been adopted by international experts.
While we generally support the report's recommendations regarding ecological sustainability, we are concerned about some other aspects of the report. For example, the Report states that the plan-implementation priorities for funding in the face of budget shortfalls should be determined during the collaborative ''learning'' process. To be consistent with its conclusions about ecological sustainability, the Regulations should clearly state that some elements in planning are not optional. Assessments, analysis and monitoring are examples of indispensable planning steps. If there is no budget available for them, program activities should be curtailed. No ''collaborative'' group should be allowed the discretion to eliminate them.
One of the most pressing issues in national forests, roadless area protection, was given virtually no attention in the report. Defenders and many other organizations are concerned about the continual pressure applied by the Forest Service to put roads into the relatively small portion of the forests that remain roadless. The basis for pushing these roads forward is timber sales. What makes this so tragic is that these areas command low timber prices and/or have high administrative costs associated with them, so sales are bound to be money-losing for the agency. However, these lands have high values and use by wildlife, as well as conditions and qualities that argue for leaving them roadless. The Committee was remiss in leaving this issue out.
Another concern is that the discussions about collaborative stewardship did not point out the problems associated with self-appointed collaborative groups such as the Quincy Library Group. There needs to be caution about embracing similar bodies and planning processes that engage them.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you again for the opportunity to testify.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT W. BIERER, AMERICAN FOREST & PAPER ASSOCIATION
Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide some views of the American Forest & Paper Association on the report prepared by the Committee of Scientists. I am Bob Bierer, Director of Forest Management for the Association. I am presenting my testimony today on behalf of AF&PA's member companies, associations, and allied groups. AF&PA members include forest land owners, manufacturers of solid wood products, and producers of pulp and paper products. The U.S. forest products industry has sales of over $195 billion annually and employs 1.6 million people. One point two percent of the entire U.S. work force. Many of our members are totally or partially dependent on timber from the national forests and other Federal lands.
As you know, the Committee of Scientists was appointed by USDA Secretary Dan Glickman to evaluate the Forest Service land and resource management planning process and provide recommendations for new planning regulations. Because our Association has an intense interest in the agency's land management planning process, we have followed the Committee's progress and deliberations closely through its series of public meetings and conference calls over a 15-month period starting in December of 1997. We submitted background information for their consideration as well as written comments regarding the current Forest Service Planning process.
At their meetings, the Committee heard that the Forest Service has spent many millions of dollars and thousands of employee person-years, and conducted countless meetings and public comment periods to develop the current forest plans for each national forest, but to what end? The agency is not committed to implementing the forest plans (no forest plan is being fully implemented), the public is even more polarized than ever, virtually every forest plan is appealed and litigated, local communities and businesses cannot rely on the outputs the expect from the forest plans, and the cost of forest planning and project planning to implement the forest plans continues to sky-rocket.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Although the Committee's final report has not yet been distributed to the public, we have several concerns I would like to share with you based on our review of report drafts.
First, the final report has not undergone any scientific peer review or public review. At one of the Committee's early meetings, USDA Under Secretary Jim Lyons expressed his belief that the report should undergo a scientific peer review. In its haste to finish the report, however, the Committee has opted to forego any outside review of the report. Why? Both a scientific peer review and a public review of the report are essential before the Forest Service issues new draft planning regulations. The Committee is recommending a new theoretical ''viability'' regulation that is operationally untested. Other qualified, credentialed scientists probably have differing views regarding species ''viability'' and other changes recommended in the report.
Second, the report recommends what is clearly a new mission for the Forest Service that is in conflict with much of its statutory mission. It stresses a sharp shift towards ecosystem preservation with ecological sustainability being paramount, ignoring the Forest Service's statutory mandate of multiple-use management. As one Committee member has noted, this focus on the preeminence of ecological sustainability, coupled with the new stringent viability regulations recommended in the report, would have the effect of operating the National Forests as biological reserves.
Furthermore, the Committee uses a definition of sustainability that is different from the one being used in international negotiations by the U.S. Government and other countries. Internationally, sustainable forest management gives equal consideration to social, economic, and ecological values. This definition was just endorsed at a national conference last week in Reno, where over 150 school administrators and elected county officials passed a resolution that sustainable forest management must include ecological, economic, and social factors equally.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This change goes well beyond the Secretary's charge to the Committee ''to provide scientific and technical advise to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service on improvements that can be made in the National Forest System Land and Resource Management planning process'' and that this be done ''within the established framework of environmental laws and within the statutory mission of the Forest Service.''
Third, most fundamental flaws in the current forest planning process will not be corrected with the changes suggested in the report. Forest plan implementation, for example, is frequently disrupted by administrative fiat, the most recent example being the recent roads moratorium. These top-down directives from Washington render the forest plans useless, undermining the ability of local managers and communities to manage forests based on local conditions and overriding years of local negotiations and compromise that went into the development of current forest plans. No wonder that local residents feel betrayed and frustrated and forest plans have no credibility!
The report acknowledges but does little to address the problem of endless appeals that has plagued the forest plans and the planning process. It ignores other available. successful models, such as pre-decisional appeal process used by the Bureau of Land Management.
Meaningful forest plan implementation will remain impossible without basic reform to force the budget and planning processes to operate in concert. Plans without corresponding budgets cannot be implemented! We are also very concerned about the disconnect between the strategic planning being conducted for the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), annual budgeting, and forest planning.
I would like to close with a quote from a recent editorial by Former Chief Jack Thomas. ''We have learned, and continue to learn, a great deal about our forests. We know that the heavy hand of one-size-fits-all government regulation does not land lightly or evenly. We know our crazy quilt of laws and policies often prevent management practices from working properly. And we know it is the stakeholderspeople who stand to win or losewho seem best situated to guide the decision-making to preserve their forests and protect lives and property.'' We fear, Madame Chairman, that the Committee's report has badly missed the mark!
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INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 1 TO 5 AND 10 TO 271 HERE
(Footnote 1 return)
Focal species indicate the integrity of certain ecological communities or are particularly affected by management actions or certain stresses. Focal species are also selected if they play an ecological engineering role, are threatened with extinction, or play indicator or keystone species roles. Best science is used to assess the conditions necessary to protect and restore viability of focal, threatened, endangered and sensitive species, and management decisions are based on achieving those conditions.