Comparing: C with c
Comparing two projects in Idaho may help explain the lack of enthusiasm for collaborative process (little c). The two projects are Lost Creek-Boulder Creek (LCBC) on the Payette National Forest and Jasper Mountain on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Both are recent projects successfully designed and implemented. They differ substantially in their general characteristics, the approach to collaboration, and the time commitment for public involvement.
Lost Creek-Boulder Creek
Lost Creek-Boulder Creek is one of several projects within the Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Landscape (WLSH). This landscape is one of 23 priority landscapes selected by the Secretary of Agriculture, as authorized by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Title IV . The resource issue scope is broad, and includes vegetation treatments, watershed health, wildlife habitat, public access and others. The project boundary includes 80,000 acres, of which 45,000 acres will receive restoration action.
A stand-alone project, Jasper Mountain was administered under the authority of the Amended Healthy Forest Restoration Act, Sections 602 and 603. The resource issue of specific focus under that authority is forest health (insect and disease). Vegetation treatments include 2,037 acres contained within a project boundary of 15,000 acres.
| ||Big C: Lost Creek-Boulder Creek ||Little c: Jasper Mountain |
|Authority||Collaborative Forest Restoration Act||HFRA Section 602 & 603|
|Resource Scope||Vegetation, watershed health, wildlife, access||Forest Insect and Disease|
|Geographic Area (acres)|
Public Engagement via Collaboration
Lost Creek-Boulder Creek
The Coalition history began prior to the LCBC project. In 2009, two non-profit organizations convened the Payette Forest Coalition (PFC): Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Woody Biomass Utilization Partnership. A question asked at the very first meeting was this: What can we accomplish collectively that exceeds what can be accomplished separately? The conclusion - by forming a coalition, and taking action collectively, the ability to influence resource management exceeds the separate, individual actions of the stakeholders.
The group agreed to form an independent entity, the PFC. The members are self-governing and established internal business procedures that define the role and tasks to engage in all phases of forest restoration projects on the Payette National Forest. Included in the business protocols are the voting thresholds for collective action, i.e. a consensus recommendation submitted to the agency. Recommendations on project design, scoping comments in response to a proposed action, DEIS, and the Record of Decision were submitted for LCBC following deliberations and voting at each phase of the project.
By contrast, the staff of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest organized the engagement of interested parties, established the schedule, and defined the roles/procedures for interaction. At a workshop, part of project initiation, the Forest Service presented the purpose, schedule, and ground rules. To avoid potential conflicts with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the participants were informed that the Responsible Official valued their input, but was not seeking a consensus decision or recommendation. A local group, the Panhandle Forest Collaborative, participated in the process along with the other interested parties.
|Characteristic ||Big C: Lost Creek-Boulder Creek||Little c: Jasper Mountain |
|Organization||Self-Organizing - Payette Forest Coalition||Agency organized meetings, schedule|
|Governance||Self-Governing||Agency defined roles and processes|
|Recommendation||Consensus Decision||Comments - no consensus requested|
Lost Creek-Boulder Creek
The time commitment was large for the Collaboration, and that commitment began in project design prior to scoping. The Forest Service time commitment was also significant. The elapsed time from publication of the Notice of Intent to the the signing of the Record of the Decision was over 18 months. Due to litigation, the first of several stewardship contracts was awarded 23 months later (41 months following publication of the NOI). The agency received four objections during the Administrative Review. The objection resolution conference call failed to resolve the issues raised, and three of the objectors pursued litigation. A 2011 9th District Court Decision enabled third parties to intervene in federal litigation related to environmental reviews. The PFC opted to intervene in the litigation., as did the Adams County Commission. The court decided in favor of the the federal government (the defendants). In the proceedings, the Court denied a motion for a temporary restraining order and stated that the participation of the PFC must be recognized as part of the public interest in the project. In short, the Collaborative influenced the outcome of the challenge to the ROD.
The HFRA amendments contained in the 2014 Farm Bill enabled the Jasper Mountain project to proceed on a compressed schedule. The elapsed time between Scoping and the ROD was about four months. The contract award is anticipated in 2017. The resource scope fit well into the project category of Forest Insect and Disease, thereby excluding the requirement for an Administrative review. The ROD was not challenged with litigation.
| ||Big C: Lost Creek-Boulder Creek || Little c: Jasper Mountain |
Scoping to ROD
Scoping to Contract Award
Sale anticipated in 2017
|Administrative Review||Objections (4, pre-decision) to FEIS and ROD|
Litigation (3 parties)
|Excluded by Resource Scope (Category)|