As an original member of the Quincy Library Group, I was pleased to read an honest treatment of the QLG (HCN, 9/29/97).
However, speaking as a forester and environmentalist who has been actively involved in Northern Sierra land management issues since 1975, I take issue with the letters in the Nov. 10 issue. They are from the same California activists who have been spreading misinformation about the QLG for months. These groups accuse the QLG of ignoring the law, preventing public participation and adapting a timber industry plan to "double the cut" on "too large of a land-base," with an "untried" fuel reduction plan. What has sent them into orbit, however, is that we dare approach Congress without them.
The truth is that the precursor to the QLG plan was created in February 1986 by Friends of Plumas Wilderness, Mother Lode Chapter Sierra Club, Northstate Wilderness Committee and Altacal Audubon. This carefully crafted document was called the Conservationist Alternative to the Plumas National Forest Plan. Two years later, the Wilderness Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council gave extensive financial and legal support to the plan.
The U.S. Forest Service rejected the plan in 1988 and a lengthy appeal process followed. Five years later, the Quincy Library Group evolved around this plan. From the beginning, the QLG has been open to anyone who wanted to participate. During the next four years, California spotted owl regulations and Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project science were added to the original Conservationist Alternative, and this became the QLG plan.
The current bill is guided by more than good intentions. It is based on good science. The scale of this plan at two and a quarter national forests is landscape in size - just right, according to SNEP scientists.
The QLG Plan is the most environmentally sound national forest management plan in the United States. One hundred percent of the known roadless and environmentally sensitive lands are removed from logging. No other national forest in the country has this much protection. Creeks and riparian areas have more protection than any other national forest in the Sierra (Scientific Analysis Team guidelines). The rotation age for timber is longer (average 175 years) than any other national forest in the country.
The QLG has made strategic fuel management a central focus of its land-management proposal. The fire management section is the most detailed and scientifically sophisticated plan that I know of and was discussed at length and recognized in the Sierra Nevada ecosystem report. The amount of understory fuel removed will be considerably greater than any other plan for these forests. But less timber will be harvested annually than in the past. When the bill is signed into law, the Forest Service will be required to begin an environmental impact study with full public participation.
In April 1997, California activists agreed to "work collaboratively" with the QLG if we would only "kill the bill." We refused. They threatened to "get ugly." We reminded these colleagues that they used the legislative process for the California Wilderness Bill and attempted to use it with the Ancient Forest Bill. I know because I helped them.
After working 11 years with the national environmental organizations and four years with the QLG, attempting to get an administrative solution, the best option is now to seek a legislative solution - an exercise of our First Amendment rights. Until the California activists come up with a better plan, or any plan at all, the QLG will continue to press forward. Our Web page is at http://www.qlg.org/
The writer teaches forestry at Feather River College in Quincy, California.
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