Thursday, April 22, 2004
ASHLAND FOREST LANDS COMMISSION
April 22, 2004
MEMBERS PRESENT: Frank Betlejewski, Richard Brock, Jo Anne Eggers, Stephen
Jensen (Chair), Bill Robertson, Diane White
Members Absent: Anthony Kerwin
Staff Present: Nancy Slocum
Non Voting Members Present: Marty Main
Non Voting Members Absent: Chris Hearn, Cameron Meeks (Student Liaison)
I. CALL TO ORDER: 6:05 PM
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Approval of the April 14, 2004 minutes was tabled until the May 12th meeting.
III. PUBLIC FORUM: Incorporated into Items for Discussion.
IV. STAFF REPORTS (20 MIN) – Tabled.
V. ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION:
A. Finalize Alternative to the Forest Service’s Watershed Projection Plan
Betlejewski summarized the latest community meeting (held April 20th). He believed the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) would be a true alternative. His suggestions for improvement included: starting treatment at the bottom working up to higher elevations, conduct area-wide thinning rather than focusing on fuelbreaks, focus on riparian areas rather than the ridgetops, and update the management plan for the Research Natural Area (RNA). He thought the commission’s current restoration plan has wide “community” support. He also invited the community group participants on the May 1st public hike. Betlewjewski thought the Restoration Project could be modified as the third alternative adding specifics regarding elevations over 3500 feet. He thought White would be a good resource for that information.
Brock thought the Restoration Project had a limited scope as it only described 180 acres. He wondered how the collaborative process would work and could it be done before the April 30th deadline. Jensen wondered what detail an alternative should include.
Robertson said Howard Heiner had an outline of a potential CWPP and felt work on the CWPP should be a top commission goal after the April 30th deadline. Robertson moved to table work on the CWPP until after May 1st. White seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Jensen opened the meeting to public comments.
Chris Chambers, City Forest Grant Worker Coordinator, reported working with several templates from other jurisdictions and, except for the collaboration requirement, all the necessary information was there to put together a CWPP before May 1st. He thought there were many benefits to submitting the plan before May 1st. The CWPP would still need an evacuation plan and approval from local government (City and county), Fire Department and USFS.
Main thought the community should not be penalized by USFS for not submitting a CWPP by the deadline. The City of Ashland was simply not given enough time. He thought this sentiment could be added to a cover letter accompanying the alternative (scoping comments). City Councilor Cate Hartzell thought that if the group gets a letter from USFS saying they would accept an incomplete CWPP, the group should submit it. She felt it a matter of packaging. Eggers suggested adding a cover letter that stated what we were submitting, what we need and Main’s comments regarding the lack of time.
Cindy Deacon Williams, Headwaters, explained the tight USFS deadlines. USFS had the sole authority to decide which submittal would be the third alternative. She thought the community group could produce a good alternative and that it would be chosen and therefore gain all the benefits of a CWPP. She explained that the purpose and need of an alternative must met (must reduce the risk of large, high intensity fires, align with the DFCs, and obtain resilient conditions, must protect values at risk), must offer an approach different that that outlined in the proposed action, must be part of a collaborative process and must be received during the scoping period (April 30th).
Williams said Headwaters would have no problem combining their alternative with the commission’s alternative and having it labeled as the “City” alternative. She felt the Commission should decide if it wants to collaborate as a community group to produce one alternative. Hartzell asked the commission not to put her in the position of choosing sides. She would like to see one alternative.
Heiner would have like to have seen the commission work towards a CWPP, but understands the time limitation. He would like to see the City of Ashland as the driving force. He believed there are large differences between some community groups/members and suggested leaving these issues out of the alternative. He said USFS’s alternative is very vague. Hartzell suggested that monitoring could be a way to address differences. Williams added that the scoping comments could include outstanding issues and concerns.
Betlejewski suggested developing an official AFLC Subcommittee. Jensen asked Betlejewski, Brock and Main if they would be willing along with White adding technical support. All agreed.
The commission asked White to summarize USFS’s proposal. White said it contained both fire suppression and fire resiliency components. Fire suppression activities would include DFPZ’s at ridgelines with a relative density of .4 - .5 and about 60% canopy cover to inhibit understory vegetation and a wildfire interface buffer with a relative density of .4 - .5 and 15 half mile radius owl circles. Fire resiliency efforts would include late successional habitat treatment with a relative density of .5 - .6 and a Research Natural Area (RNA) to protect heritage pine.
White did not agree with the prescription of DFPZ’s as they are susceptible to insects, too dense and not ecologically resilient. She generally favors treatment based on Plant Association Groups (PAG). Main thought the DFPZ’s were not defined adequately, but were okay for the short term. He criticized the plan for not discussing the use of multi-layer canopies and vertical discontinuity (ladder fuels). Brock thought the DFPZ’s assumes a model and becomes a swath on the landscape. Betlejewski would like to see treatment start at the interface and riparian areas then move up toward the ridge-tops instead of the other way around.
Eggers believed the community alternative should focus on what we could do today that would lead to less and less human intervention in the future. Brock suggested working with existing dry forest, low density and PAG’s for “natural type” breaks. Alternative would include beginning treatment with dryer PAG’s and working outward – a different type of compartmentalization. Betlejewski thought habitat connectivity needed to be discussed.
Regarding treatment in late successional areas, Brock liked the closed canopy, late seral definition to benefit wildlife, fungi, etc. He admitted that the risk of wildfire was there, but was minimized.
Regarding large trees, Main suggested GPS large trees. Robertson thought the fact that this alternative was ecologically driven should be emphasized. Eggers suggested adding a statement of value, listing the value of large trees and including species.
Brock’s would like USFS to use “real” data for planning. Betlejewski wondered if it was realistic to expect them to use the same level of inventory data as the City. Main reminded the commission that the Memorandum of Understanding between USFS and the City of Ashland was currently the only written document.
Heiner reminded the commission that whatever the alternative, there would be a financial funding problem.
VI. PROJECTS PENDING/REQUIRING ACTION – Tabled.
VII. OTHER BUSINESS – None
VIII. REVIEW AND SET COMMISSION CALENDAR / NEXT MEETING
.Jensen suggested setting a final commission meeting to vote on the alternative. The meeting was set for Thursday, April 29th at 5:30 PM.
IX. ADJOURN 9:05 PM