Quincy Library Group bars outsiders

 

The Quincy Library Group, nationally acclaimed for its open and politically diverse membership, will be holding some of its meetings behind closed doors.

The restriction, adopted March 30 in a unanimous voice vote, is to prevent disruptions the group fears from longtime opponents of its controversial forest management plan for three national forests in the northern Sierra Nevada.

"For us to get our work done, I see no reason to invite in people who are opposed to what we do," said Tom Nelson, a Sierra Pacific Industries forester who co-founded the group. But to its critics, the limits on participation give explicit sanction to a policy of exclusion that they say has been characteristic of the Quincy Library Group since its formation in 1992.

"It's troubling that they would formally close their doors to interests that have differing opinions," said Jay Watson, regional director of The Wilderness Society. "This is a flawed process that has run even more amok."

Founded by Nelson, then-Plumas County Supervisor Bill Coates and Quincy environmental attorney Michael Jackson, the Quincy coalition designed a forest management plan to protect wilderness and roadless areas while providing timber for local sawmills (HCN, 9/29/97). The plan calls for removing small trees from up to 60,000 acres a year to reduce the threat of wildfire, and harvesting the timber on around 9,000 acres a year one tree at a time or in two-acre clear-cut blocks.

The proposal became the focus of regional and national opposition after Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., introduced legislation requiring the Forest Service to execute the plan in a five-year demonstration project. In October, President Clinton signed the bill co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., despite widespread opposition from environmental groups. The Forest Service has until Aug. 17 to complete a review of the environmental impacts.

An interdisciplinary team of more than 25 agency specialists is assessing the potential effects of the logging, particularly the experimental removal of trees to create a network of forest fuel breaks as a protection against wildfire. The work must comply with all federal regulations, including protections for the California spotted owl, an indicator species that is declining, according to recent studies. So far, the Forest Service team has drafted four possible plans and is working on a fifth, said Lee Anne Schramel Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Plumas National Forest.

To monitor and influence the agency process, the Quincy Library Group established the Pilot Project Consultation Committee. It is here that the group gives the most scrutiny to Forest Service plans and their effects on water quality, forest fragmentation, prescribed fire and other ecological issues. And it is these meetings that are now closed except to members and invited guests.

Critics were targeted

Representatives of several environmental groups, including outspoken opponents of the Quincy legislation, had been attending the pilot-project committee meetings to participate in the discussions that could affect the eventual management of a large tract of public land.

"Here's a little group of people that can decide public policy," said Erin Noel, staff attorney for the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, a coalition of environmental groups. "I'm hoping to raise substantive issues before they become roadblocks or litigation."

But her reports to her clients angered some Quincy Library Group members, who said they were being misrepresented and their discussions used as ammunition against them. Noel and others interrupted and inhibited the committee's work, said George Terhune, a Quincy Library Group member who proposed the closed-door policy. Terhune said recent meetings were adjourned early because of disruptions caused by what he called "outside interests trying to destroy us."

Noel said closing the committee meetings excludes the public from key discussions about natural resources owned by everyone.

"Until now, the Quincy Library Group has walked a line between public forum and special-interest group. This is a strong step toward special interests," she said.

The coalition is a group of private citizens working toward a common goal, said Nelson, the Sierra Pacific forester. Though it is a consensus-based collaborative group meeting with the interested public, it is not a public body subject to open meeting laws, he said.

Regardless of how the Quincy Library Group behaves, the federal environmental review by the Forest Service is still a public process providing opportunities for anyone to participate, said Watson of The Wilderness Society. That should be the public focus in the few months before the agency presents its management recommendations, he said.

The decision to close the meetings of the Pilot Project Consultation Committee does not affect the Quincy coalition's monthly meetings, generally held in the library from which it took its name, said co-founder Coates.

The writer reports from Greenville, California.

You can contact ...

* Quincy Library Group, Mike DeLasaux, 530/283-6125, http://www.qlg.org/;

* Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, Erin Noel, 530/292-4276.

* U.S. Forest Service, Dave Peters, 530/283-2050, http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/hfqlg/.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a friendly, detail-oriented, and self-motivated Development Coordinator to provide administrative support to the Development department. This position will report to...
  • FIELD ORGANIZER, MONTANA
    Help Northern Plains Resource Council protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Work hard, meet good people, make the...
  • FOR SALE
    Successful llama trekking business with Yellowstone National Park concession for sale! A fun and enriching business opportunity of a lifetime! Call 406-580-5954
  • ALBUQUERQUE VACATION HOME
    Centrally located. One bed, one bath, lovely outdoor patio, well-stocked kitchen.
  • NEW AGRARIAN PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Quivira (www.quiviracoaltion.org), a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that aims to shift current practices of agriculture and land stewardship to those that produce good food, support meaningful...
  • SPECTACULAR SCENIC MOUNTAIN VIEW HOME BUILDING SITE
    Located on top of Sugarloaf Mtn. 5 mi W of downtown Colorado Springs, CO. $80,000.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    opportunity in Eugene, Oregon! To learn more and to apply, visit our website at www.bufordpark.org.
  • FUNDRAISING & OUTREACH COORDINATOR
    Does the prospect of working to protect one of the Southwest's last remaining flowing rivers get you excited? Join the team at Friends of the...
  • DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST
    Position Summary Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a dynamic, organized, and creative Digital Engagement Specialist to be an essential part of our growing Communications Team....
  • NORTH IDAHO FIELD REPRESENTATIVE
    Founded by sportsmen and women 1936, the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to conserving and enhancing Idaho's natural resources, wildlife, habitat,...
  • SMALL HISTORICAL FARM FOR SALE - NEW MEXICO
    23-acres, adobe home, shop, barn, gardens, pasture, orchard. https://www.zillow.com/homes/222-Calle-Del-Norte,-Monticello,-Nm_rb/ or call 575-743-0135.
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year round outdoor living. REDUCED to: $1.17 MM 575-536-3109
  • GRANTS MANAGER AND EDITOR
    Are you a strong communicator who excels at building relationships, writing winning grant proposals, and staying organized? You sound like a good fit for our...
  • REPORTER
    The Wallowa County Chieftain, has an opening for a reporter. Experience with and understanding of editorial photography also required. Journalism degree or equivalent, an understanding...
  • 2017 JOHN DEERE LAWN MOWER Z930R
    15 hours on it, 3 years warranty, 22,5 HP, $1600 Sale price. Contact: [email protected]
  • OWN YOUR OWN CANYON - 1400 SF STRAW-BALE ECO-HOME ON 80 ACRES - 3 HOURS FROM L.A.
    1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • HEAD BREAD/PASTRY BAKER AND ASSISTANT POSITIONS
    Hiring Part/Full time for Summer Season - entry level & experienced positions. Year round employment for optimal candidates. Pay DOE.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COUNTRY ESTATE NEAR KINGS CANYON AND SEQUOIA PARKS
    Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST NEW MEXICO
    Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921