Center for Biological Diversity shows the way


Thank goodness that the Center for Biological Diversity has given us an example of what a forest partnership worthy of the name looks like.

A real forest partnership is NOT about giving up rights under the law; suspending duly established government process or excluding the public from important decisions about the public lands. Real forest partnerships are not about accommodation; they are about finding a new social balance which is respectful of the laws and the land. Real forest partnerships honor the Organic Act which created the national forests so that westerners could enjoy "favorable conditions of water flow" and as a hedge against future timber famines.  Real forest partnerships honor the mandates of the National Forest Management Act: biodiversity, clean streams, diverse recreation and responsible resource use without impairing the land.

When communities and industries embrace such a vision – the original and therefore the conservative approach – left and right wing labels dissolve into air and true community – not shotgun weddings or marriages of convenience but real community - emerges.

As an elder of the tribe I consider it a disappointment and a disgrace that some who call themselves defenders of the earth are willing to make deals and reach accommodations which do not honor the far seeing laws enacted to protect public land and public trust resources including water and wildlife. These are bedrock laws and public trusts; true partnerships will not compromise them.

For many western politicians all forest partnerships that include timber corporations are the same: they have never seen one that they did not fall all over themselves seeking to support. These politicians have been too eager to pass legislation which skirts bedrock public land laws in order to get more trees out of the woods. This is what happened with the Quincy Library Group Bill championed by Wally Herger and Diane Feinstein and passed into law in 1997.  Its proponents promised not only jobs but also fire risk reduction and even that the bill would augment California’s water supply by removing “thirsty” trees from the Sierra Mountains.

The QLG legislation has been a failure. Not only has it failed to deliver the promised logs, it has increased rather than reduced conflict over Northern Sierra timber sales, increased rather than decreased the risk that forest fires will burn catastrophically and decreased rather than increased the dry-season flow in Northern Sierra rivers and streams. Can I prove these claims? Well in the case of the water claim I do not need to provide justification – at least according to Nobel laureate Wangari Mattei. When asked in a 2005 interview published in Sierra Magazine why she concentrated her efforts to help women on tree planting Mattei replied:

We all know where water comes from, from forested mountains.

I am not sure just which “we” Mattei referred to. She apparently does not realize that here in the American West the full connection between trees and water supply is a carefully guarded secret which not even Forest Service researchers have the political will to study.

The press has been as gullible and uncritical as the politicians. HCN is one of the few publications that has provided diverse perspectives on the QLG legislation and other forest partnerships. Unlike environmental groups which are classed as right or left, radical or mainstream, etc and whose actions are closely evaluated, forest partnerships have gotten a free ride from the western press. Following the lead of the politicians, the western press declares “success” if former antagonists sign an agreement. I know of no instance where the media has gone back later to report on the actual results on the ground. Where, for example, are the follow-up stories on the QLG legislation? I’ve done the on-line searches and I can not find a single example of a forest partnership or collaboration which the media - including HCN - has revisited after implementation to report on results.

As a mater of fact, that would be a great article for HCN – an evaluation a dozen years after its passage of how the QLG legislation has played out on the ground.

Quincy Library updates
Ray Ring
Ray Ring
Sep 28, 2009 11:20 AM
Here are links to two fairly recent updates on how the Quincy Library Group's effort is working out:



I used these updates to sum up the Quincy Library effort in my HCN cover story on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership.

The Quincy Library effort continues to struggle for many reasons -- including resistance from the Forest Service and some environmental groups, according to these updates.

I think the Quincy Library struggles don't mean that all efforts for dramatic experiments in the forests are doomed.

Many explorations and experiments fail repeatedly until someone finds a successful path to the goals. The Vikings tried to colonize North America and failed, then other Europeans tried and some of their efforts failed and some succeeded, for instance. If all explorations and experiments gave up their goals after a few failures, we wouldn't have had much progress in our civilization.
Experiments and the QLG
Felice Pace
Felice Pace
Sep 28, 2009 12:16 PM
I agree with Ray Ring about experiments. We should not be afraid to experiment on approaches to managing our forests. But I would argue for a broader range of experiments. Where are the partnerships that ignore forest boundaries to encompass management of the landscape - private industrial as well public lands? Where are the experiments which do not utilize the timber sale contract as the dominant tool by which "experimentation" is implemented? Where are the experiments where the process is inclusive rather than exclusive?

I do think, however,that we should not embrace experiments on the public lands which are undemocratic, i.e which exclude the public. If we can't practice democracy on the public lands where can we practice it?
Quincy Library Group
Vivian Parker
Vivian Parker
Sep 29, 2009 03:37 PM
Ray, the sum total of your research on Quincy Library Group was the pro-QLG piece published in "Climate Wire" -- an industry-friendly subscription based news wire? Couldn’t you dig a little deeper—there is Google, after all. How about the revelation uncovered by the Feather River Bulletin, a small local newspaper in the Quincy, California region that wrote (Jan, 2009) about the payments of nearly $500,000 made to the QLG collaboration’s two so-called environmentalists by the timber industry, in cahoots with local county supervisors? What’s worse, the county payments were done under the table--no county contract. Talk about corruption![…]/LatestNews.php

QLG has been a disaster for No. Calif. forests, and no one in their right mind would suggest it to be a decent model for working out civil, cooperative compromises. It was never more than a give away for big timber company Sierra Pacific Industries from the start.
Thank Felice...and more on Tester's logging bill
Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Oct 07, 2009 11:19 AM
As always Felice, I enjoy reading your perspectives.

Speaking of so-called "forest partnerships" for those readers interested in a detailed analysis of Sen. Tester's logging bill from one of the nation's leading experts on natural resource policy and law, I'd highly recommend they check out Dr. Martin Nie's piece at Headwaters News titled, "Questions, opportunities presented by Montana Sen. Jon Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act."

It's available at:

It would certainly be nice if Sen. Tester and supporters of his bill would address these important questions, which have actually been asked (yet ignored) for months (and years, in the case of the Beaverhead Partnership).

As Dr. Nie says in his conclusion, "The above questions are not driven by politics. Nor are they asked with the purpose of trying to defeat the Senator's bill or to criticize his courageous entry into Montana wilderness politics. They are meant instead to get the public thinking about the big picture and how the parts are going to fit or not fit together. The stakes are high. If the FJRA becomes law, place-based proposals throughout the West will take a big step forward. The FJRA would be the first one out of the gate, setting precedent for others, and this is reason enough why it must be scrutinized so carefully."