Quincy collaboration heads to court
by Jane Braxton LittleCALIFORNIA
The Quincy Library Group has given up on collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service. Nearly nine years after developing a controversial management plan for 2.4 million acres of national forest land in Northeastern California, the coalition of environmentalists and civic and timber industry leaders has suspended its monthly meetings with agency officials. It now plans to take its case to court.
The decision came 10 days after Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth upheld the Sierra Nevada Framework, a plan to protect the old-growth trees, wildlife and riparian areas in 11 national forests in California (HCN, 8/27/01: Restoring the Range of Light). To reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, the Quincy coalition favors much more aggressive forest thinning than the Sierra-wide guidelines allow.
The new regulations have "killed" the Quincy program, says Michael Jackson, a Quincy environmental attorney and coalition co-founder. But Bernie Weingardt, a deputy regional forester, says the 1998 federal legislation authorizing the Quincy experiment for five years requires that the program adapt to all new guidelines approved by the Forest Service (HCN, 11/9/98: A quiet victory in Quincy). Forest Service officials will continue to search for common ground as they try to balance "the good intentions" of the Quincy group members with the laws they are mandated to uphold, Weingardt says.
Bill Coates, a co-founder of the coalition, says cooperation with the Forest Service is a "process with no end and no results." Now, the group acclaimed nationwide as the model for collaboration will pursue litigation.
Says Jackson, "It's time to shift into a more combative stage."