MEMBERS PRESENT: Richard Brock (Chair), Anthony Kerwin, Jim Lewis, Dan Maymar,
Joseph Vaile, Zach Williams
Members Absent: Diane White
Staff Present: Chris Chambers, Nancy Slocum, Pieter Smeenk, Keith Woodley
Non-Voting Members Present: Eric Navickas
Also Present: Kate Jackson, Linda Duffy, Mel Wann
I. CALL TO ORDER: Temporary Chair Kerwin called the meeting to order at 5:37 PM in the Siskiyou Room.
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Lewis/Vaile m/s to approve the minutes of February 13, 2007 as submitted. Motion passed unanimously.
III. PUBLIC FORUM: None
IV. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA: Kerwin suggested moving New Business to the top of the agenda. Commission agreed.
V. NEW BUSINESS
A. Discussion with Linda Duffy, Ashland Ranger District
Woodley, on behalf of the Commission, asked District Ranger Linda Duffy to update the Ashland Fire Resiliency Project, speak to ways the City could be involved with AFR and the possibility of sample prescription marking. Duffy began by introducing Mel Wann who would be working with Duffy on AFR. She noted that Mollusk and Tree Vole inventories should be complete by October, 2007.
As stated in her letter to the Mayor and City Administrator dated February 26, 2007, as a way to further collaborative efforts between the City and the Forest Service beyond what is provided for in HFRA, Duffy proposed a 30 day advance governmental review of the Ashland Forest Resiliency (ARF) FEIS whereby the City can review the completed FEIS and offer collaborative feedback to the Forest Service in advance of the formal public 30-day objection period. She cited the 1929 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and believed this governmental review met the spirit of that MOU. She also recommended the City participate in a Forest Service sponsored pre-FEIS field demonstration of project conditions and treatment. The timeline for the field demonstration would be approximately January, 2008.
Duffy said that the Record of Decision (ROD) would include “mitigation measures,” “monitoring plan” and an “implementation plan.” She requested that the City submit comments describing how these mitigation measures or the monitoring framework could meet the City’s interests prior to the release of the FEIS (October, 2007). Duffy was also open to ideas regarding methods and sequencing.
Vaile wondered if Duffy would be open to suggestions on marking. He noted that it would benefit the public especially on the issues of tree size and NSO habitat (canopy).
Navickas asked the status of the Ashland Watershed Protection Project (AWPP). Wann reported that during the last six weeks they have burned 300 acres of debris piles (300 acres). They have been underburning as funding and burning windows allow. They plan on burning an additional 200 acres of handpiling by Fall 2007. Duffy added that the burning will be finished about the time AFR is ready to implement. The commercial aspects of AWPP will roll into those of AFR.
Brock asked about revising the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as a way to address the public’s concerns about AFR being poorly defined and the desire to understand the project as it develops. The commission’s recent draft MOU included an annual update allowing the City to comment as needed. In lieu of revising the MOU, would the Forest Service be willing to include an annual report outlining what work was done, what monitoring would be done as well as the next steps in the project? Duffy said the ROD, once released, could not be changed in its scope and methods, but “adaptive management,” if included, could include modifications.
Duffy explained that the Forest Service would look at funding for the project after the resource work was complete. The funding would be separated to include the commercial aspect, fuel reduction completed by contract and fuel reduction completed by Forest Service staff. Pile burning is expected to begin fall of 2008 while tree removal was expected to wait one fiscal cycle.
Navickas thought fire management had historically lead to an increase in sediment. Duffy said that would not happen if it was planned correctly. If the two agencies work together, the needed protections could be provided. This was the time for the city to comment. Navickas was in favor of revising the MOU. Duffy commented that road building increased sediment, not forest management. Further, the 1997 slope movement happened where it was expected and also in areas where there was no management activity. She thought revising the MOU would not meet the City’s needs only the existing relationship.
Navickas thought the Forest Service should assume liability for removing sediment in Reeder reservoir. Lewis asked Duffy if, financially, the goal of the project was to make money or break even. Duffy said no. Funding for the ROD would occur in 2008; implementation funding in 2009. Vaile said that senators and representatives could be lobbied for funding the project. Duffy said that lobbying could also discourage funding if they believed there could be numerous delays.
Duffy reminded the commission that Mel Wann had 36 years of experience in fire management and knew the
Lewis asked if the Forest Service could give any assurances. Duffy explained that the Forest Service worked from a federal mandate and the 1929 MOU. The only assurance the City had would be if they purchased all the land in the watershed. Woodley added that the goal was “managed” risk rather than “zero” risk.
Duffy asked the commission what the City would do to fill the funding gap (mitigation measures, monitoring and implementation). Both the Forest Service and the City have funding limits.
Navickas had concerns about the infrastructure of the project. Duffy explained that the construction of new roads would be limited to 0.2 miles; the balance would be road reconstruction. This strategy was expected to improve erosion.
Duffy ended by saying that the Forest Service was willing to help, but the collaboration tools she presented tonight was the limit of what she would do. The Commission thanked Duffy and Wann for coming.
VI. OLD BUSINESS
A. Winburn Management Plan – This item was tabled.
B. Maintenance Needs for Lower Parcel – Marty Main reported that he was currently working on maintenance (reducing understory ladder fuels) on units closest to the City. He would like to produce a prescribed burning schedule even though prescribed burning was less controllable.
VII. COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Woodley asked the commission to add AFR mitigation measures, monitoring and implementation recommendations to the April agenda. He reminded the commission that the plan could not be contradictory to NEPA and USFS contracting requirements. Brock suggested commissioners look over the monitoring sections in both the DEIS and AFRCA before the next meeting. Slocum suggested forming a subcommittee to meet separately to work out the agenda and timeline for the recommendations. Brock, Maymar and Vaile were appointed.
Smeenk noted that DEQ had a TMDL limitation on sediment in Reeder Reservoir. There was a zero load increase above natural conditions permitted.
VII. ADJOURN: 7:30 PM
Richard Brock, Chair
Respectfully Submitted, Nancy Slocum, Clerk