Linda Blum's Response to Mr Blumberg's Testimony
Quincy Library Group (QLG) Assessment of Testimony by Louis Blumberg to the U.S. Senate Committee on Forests and Public Land Management, Workshop on Community based Approaches in Conflict Resolution in Public Lands Management, May 22, 1997:
The Wilderness Society has been actively participating in a statewide collaborative effort to increase F.S. funding for fuels treatment in all 19 national forests in the state
Yes, and TWS has been doing a good job of organizing the timber industry/FS/environmentalist effort for several years now, following the suggestions made by the QLG that a San Francisco Library Group effort was needed to expand appropriations for treating natural fuels in the Sierra Nevada's national forests.
The observation that Federal agencies should be more responsive to public input is exactly what stimulated the formation of QLG. What brought diverse interests to the table was the shared perception that the USFS was systematically obstructing public involvement by both commercial and environmental folks.
National interest not represented
No evidence is presented to support the contention that the full range of stakeholders is not represented in the QLG process or its outcome. The QLG process has consistently been open to anyone at any stage in the process. It is not true that the Forest Service and both national and regional environmental groups were purposefully excluded initially. Friends of Plumas Wilderness, a regional environmental group, has been involved from the very first day. Steve Evans of Friends of the River was at the first meeting in the library (hence the name Quincy Library Group). Founding members of the QLG attended a meeting of the California Ancient Forest (CAFA) in Davis on --------- to fully explain the groups membership and objectives. National, regional and individual environmentalists were encouraged to attend our meetings and many have been on the QLG mailing list. There have been numerous subsequent presentations by QLG to CAFA, the Sierra Nevada Alliance (SNA) and other groups and there has been continual personal calls and visits with Mr. Blumberg and other environmental activists. Linda Blum and Harry Reeves have regularly attended meetings of CAFA, WAFC (Western Ancient Forest Campaign), SNA. Linda Blum has served on the boards of CAFA, WAFC and SNA and has kept these organizations abreast of QLG developments. On a very few occasions Mr. Blumberg and other environmental organization members have attended QLG meetings and have been invited to participate with more frequency.
It is not true to say that the Forest Service was purposely excluded initially. Because of frustrations felt by the various members, when the QLG first came together, the FS was not asked to be at the table. No one said they could not be there, but the QLG did not want to let the agency to co-opt the formative process. The FS was invited to attend after the first two or three meetings so that the agency would be aware of the objectives and process of QLG and to enable the QLG to use the FS staff as resources in the development of the program.
It is not true to say that either the FS or environmental groups have been subsequently ignored by the QLG. QLG members have worked very closely with the FS in developing the fuels strategy, mapping and identifying elements of the land-base, off-base and deferred areas, and in other aspects of the program.
FULL RANGE OF STAKEHOLDERS NOT INCLUDED
The QLG has publicly and repeatedly invited everyone within the geographic region and everyone with an interest in the area to attend. Mr. Blumberg has personally been in contact with members of the QLG and has been encouraged to come to QLG meetings often enough that it is absurd for him to convey the impression that he has in any way been left out. Mr. Blumberg has been on the QLG mailing list since-------. It would have been nice to have had Mr. Blumberg travel approximately 250 miles to Quincy to bring his concerns to the QLG table as often as he has been given the time and funding to travel about 3000 miles to Washington, D.C. to flatly oppose the QLG.
The statement taken from the Keystone National Policy Dialogue that some parties may not have the time or financial means to be involved is a problem equally true of the USFS National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process too -- so? While the QLG believes that public involvement is a necessary component of the federal land use decision making process, the QLG has no more capability than has the USFS to expedite the participation of those who either will not or cannot express their concerns.
It should further be noted that many individuals have come to the QLG to express specific points of view or to seek support in their own resource management objectives. It is safe to say that the QLG has welcomed all comers and has never turned anyone away. On the other hand the QLG cannot be expected to take responsibility for anyone who has not had the patience, persistence or motivation to stay with the group process. Anyone can come to the table, anyone can be invited to participate, but a group cannot make someone stay. A part of a free society are the rights to abstain, to be apathetic, or to oppose.
QLG IS NOT A LEGITIMATE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
It is not true to say that the 1993 Agreement of the QLG was reached by three individuals. To the extent that Michael Jackson, Bill Coates and Tom Nelson, representing three remarkably divergent backgrounds, have risen above their personal biases to spearhead this effort, all in the QLG are deeply indebted. However, anyone who struggled through the meetings in which the initial agreement was thoughtfully hammered out is fully aware that this was a tedious, highly contentious labor of over a dozen very deeply committed people. To suggest that we were recruited to sign a done deal is an egregious insult to our integrity.
Mr. Blumberg claims to have not been given changes to the QLG proposal he requested he does not identify specifically what changes he has in mind, nor does he identify himself as a stakeholder in this process. The language of the QLG bill, HR ---, as it came out of committee on May 21 does reflect changes pointed out by Mr. Blumberg and others that make it consistent with the original QLG proposal.
It is not true to say that the QLG has ever ridiculed anyone for disagreeing.
It is not true to say that every environmental group that works on forest protection issues in the state of California oppose the QLG.
While QLG members have indeed been talking to Mr. Blumberg and other environmentalists to try to resolve concerns the talks have not produced any agreement not to actively promote the bill. Mr. Blumberg does not explain why the QLG should collaborate with people who have not availed themselves of the opportunity to participate in the collaboration in the first place.
SCALE IS TOO BIG
Of course the scale is determined by the needs of industry. That is what a community stability proposal is all about. That does not axiomatically mean that the proposal fails to meet environmental objectives. It is not true to suggest that QLG intends to avoid forest plan amendments, NEPA and NFMA. In fact, if Mr. Blumberg would bother to look at the 1993 QLG proposal, the QLG has been seeking forest plan amendments and NEPA and NFMA compliance from the outset.
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