Linda L. Blum
P.O. Box 1749
Quincy, California 95971
Phone (916) 283-1007 (w)
(916) 283- (h)
August 4, 1993
Mr. Wayne Thornton, Forest Supervisor
Plumas National Forest
159 Lawrence Street
P.O. Box 11500
Quincy, California 95971-6025
RE: The Becknel Project
I am writing to express to you my deep disappointment over the results of yesterday's meeting with Greenville District Ranger Mike Williams regarding the Becknel Project. County Supervisor Robert Meacher, Harry Reeves, and I all turned out at 7:30 a.m. for this meeting; Mr. Williams was late by 25 minutes, which meant that by the time we got past pleasantries, I was already late for work.
Mr. Williams suggested that I "talk in bullets" since time was short, so I did, beginning with the point that this is the best possible moment for the different factions in Plumas County to work together successfully on something, and that the Friends of Plumas Wilderness - and others, including the "Quincy Library Group" - believe that the timber sales which are currently authorized in Friends Of Plumas Wilderness "sensitive areas," and which essentially liquidate the remaining old growth trees, must be modified. I stressed that some of my reservations about endorsing the Quincy Library Group's proposal for forest management revolves largely around whether all the parties could really work together, and for this reason I felt that a small success now, as a first step and a demonstrate of good faith, would go a long way toward relieving doubts. So I asked whether the Becknel Project, and perhaps the Last Chance and Nye sales as well, could be modified and remarked to better meet the fuels reduction and "thinning from below" concepts of the CASPO Report.
Even though I had a list of alternative modifications I wanted to suggest and possibly explore, the Becknel modification question was the only one we got to discuss, because Mr. Williains' response was a cool, flat "no."
Mr. Williams said that Becknel cannot be modified because the county schools and roads would suffer a loss of revenue from a less valuable sale. He said that he had to sell the Becknel before the end of September in order for it to count toward his timber target this year, and that any remarking or modification would delay the sale until the end of next year. And there isn't a timber target next year, he said. I pointed out that I had been trying to have this meeting with the appropriate staff Plumas National Forest for four months, but that I'd been unable to do so because at first no line officers were available, and then the Greenville District failed to follow the appeal regulations to let me know when the appeal record closed so that I could ask for a meeting during the appeal review process; that we could have had time to re-mark Becknel and still meet his target deadline. Mr. Williams' response was that even four months ago, the Forest Service couldn't have remarked the sale.
Fred Krueger had set up our meeting and he knew the general direction we wanted to take with the Becknel sale. We had discussed this and two other old-growth liquidation sales (Last Chance and Nye) at the Quincy Library Group meeting on July 22. Plumas National Forest personnel Fred Krueger, Calvin Bird, Terri Simon-Jackson, Lee Anne Schramel-Taylor, Dick Castaldini, Conrad Nussbaumer, Frank Ferguson, and Bill Wickman were all present for that discussion, which was started when Mike Jackson pointed out to Mr. Krueger that the Forest Service was going to have to make these sales "go away" in their present form in order for the community consensus proposal to go forward. The environmentalists' position, after some discussion, was a belief that some treatment that would essentially negate the effects of many decades' worth of fire suppression would be highly desirable. There were unresolved questions about how much commercial thinning volume could be produced in these sales, but there could be no doubt that logging the remaining old trees was not acceptable. We also came away convinced that the Forest Service's willingness - or lack of it - to try to work out mutually agreeable alternatives on Becknel, Last Chance, and Nye would be an indicator of the chances for success of the overall "community consensus/community stability" effort.
So I had reason to believe that the Plumas National Forest was willing to listen to suggestions and to try to resolve our differences over these sales. Thus it was a rude surprise to be kept waiting for half an hour by Mr. Williams, and then to be turned down cold. In fact, he made a statement that he felt the Becknel's environmental documentation is in pretty good shape -- implying that we might as well take it to court.
Wayne, you're the one being credited with the phrase "singing off the same songsheet." You have publicly pledged to fight for the community consensus proposal for national forest management. Mike Jackson tells me that you brought up the issue of these sales to the Regional Forester when you met in Sacramento several weeks ago, and that Mr. Stewart acknowledged the need to resolve them. I thought we were going to try to do something positive for Plumas County's timber-dependent families as well as for the environment. Am I mistaken?
I would appreciate a response from you, at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Very truly yours,
Linda L. Blum