[env-trinity] Trinity Journal: Trinity Collaborative in transition

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Thu Aug 6 06:50:03 PDT 2015


Trinity Collaborative in transition
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 6:15 amBy Sally Morris The Trinity Journal | 0 commentsThere have been some changes in how the Trinity County Collaborative Group is working to create more successful land and resource management projects on the ground, but the two-year-old effort involving a consistent list of 55 participants continues.That was the report last given to the Trinity County Board of Supervisors in July as the Collaborative transitions to a group that meets quarterly now instead of monthly and new leadership is recruited.The group was formed in the spring of 2013 as an attempt to bridge long-standing controversy and impasse over forest land and resource management issues in the county. Following a personal visit to the county by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the Collaborative involving several former adversaries began meeting on a monthly basis with professional facilitation to develop priorities that all could agree to work on.Smaller groups formed based on common areas of interest and expertise. Participation from the start has come from varied stakeholders including landowners, local and regional conservation groups, business owners, Sierra Pacific Industries, Trinity River Lumber Company, Fire Safe Councils, the Trinity County Resource Conservation District, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Trinity County Board of Supervisors and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.For the first two years, the full group met monthly to develop consensus, work on landscape assessment, and develop and prioritize projects. The group now meets quarterly with active subgroup meetings happening more frequently to work on each area of focus.Retired Trinity County Resource Conservation District Manager Pat Frost presented an update of the Collaborative’s activities to the Trinity County Board of Supervisors in July, noting he is temporarily back at work there as the RCD hires a new manager to replace Alex Cousins who recently left the position for a job at Trinity River Lumber Company. Cousins was also present to provide project updates to the board and said he will continue to participate in the Collaborative process as an employee of the mill.The RCD is the entity that continues to receive grant funds to support facilitation of the Collaborative. Frost said that after two years of meetings, participants felt there wasn’t enough productivity to warrant monthly meetings of the full group “yet the smaller working groups continue to meet between the quarterly meetings to get the yeomen’s work done.”He said the keystone project of the Collaborative is a pilot program to create shaded fuel breaks that reduce fire hazards along strategic roadsides and ridges. The pilot program involves treatment on approximately 3,000 acres, in planning now for work to be accomplished in the 2015/16 federal fiscal year. The pilot project is located mostly in Trinity County’s Supervisorial District 5 including the areas of Tule Creek, Butter Creek and Indian Valley.Then there will be monitoring and assessments to see how it worked and how to scale it up to a goal of treating 30,000 acres, Frost said, adding the work will involve thinning fuels within varying roadside widths as well as some timber harvest to generate logs for the mill and revenue to help pay for additional projects.Other subgroups are working on assorted projects other than forestry, including a proposal to improve existing boat launch ramps at Trinity Lake and install a low-water ramp; build a trail that circumnavigates the entire lake; preservation of the Bowerman Barn historic site and development of an interpretive trail there; and other trail projects. A proposal to re-establish a boat ramp at Estrellita has also been submitted.“Despite all our successes and progress over the past two years, there certainly continues to be frustration regarding the processes you have to go through to get something approved,” Frost said, adding that under the required NEPA process, “getting something on the Forest Service program of work can take years. The pilot project attempts to tweak that a little by getting a lot of the specialized elements done under contract through the RCD or the Hayfork Watershed Center so that’s moving along pretty well.”Sup. Keith Groves said he ran into a problem with having the Collaborative meetings reduced to a quarterly schedule when he was looking for a letter of support for proposed emergency spending on long-term improvements at existing boat ramps before the group was scheduled to meet again.Sup. Judy Morris suggested there will be times like that when the Board of Supervisors “just has to leapfrog over the Collaborative.”Frost said it’s an issue he will bring up at the next meeting of the Collaborative, noting “it’s true for grant applications as well. Some of those have a short, 30-day turnaround. We need a procedure for that type of situation when quick action is needed to take advantage of opportunities that come up.”Morris thanked Cousins “for all his efforts, keeping us on course and keeping it going over these last two years.”“I’m not going anywhere. I’m still in the community and working on collaborative issues,” Cousins said.
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