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June 7 & 8, 2007 - Bureau of Land Management

By Stephen Bennett,2014-06-13 09:27
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June 7 & 8, 2007 - Bureau of Land Management

    Bureau of Land Management

    Northwest California Resource Advisory Council

    Field Tour and Business Meeting

    Thursday and Friday, June 7-9, 2007

    Fortuna, California

    Summary Minutes

    Thursday, June 7

    RAC members joined Headwaters Forest Reserve Manager Kathy Stangl and members of the Headwaters staff to hike the trail at the south end of the reserve. The Salmon Creek trail takes hikers into the heart of and old growth grove and offers views of ongoing stream and forest restoration projects. This trail is open to the public via guided hikes led by BLM staff members. Staff members including Fisheries Biologist Dave Fuller, Geologist Sam Morrison and Forest Ecologist Greg Jennings discussed a wide variety of facets involved in management of the reserve.

    Friday, June 8

Vice Chairman Ryan Henson opened the meeting shortly after 8 am.

Opening Business

Attendance:

    Category one: Bob Warren, Stan Leach, Charlene Wardlow. Absent: Don Klusman

Category Two: Diane Beck, Ryan Henson, Michael Kelley, Rondal Snodgrass

    Category Three: Bill Radtkey, Kendall Smith. Absent: Gene Parham. One vacancy.

    There is no majority present in category three, and therefore, no quorum of the RAC.

    BLM Staff: Arcata Field Manager Lynda Roush, Redding Field Manager Steve Anderson, Ukiah Field Manager Rich Burns, Public Affairs Officer Jeff Fontana, State Office Realty Specialist Karen Montgomery, State Office Public Affairs Specialist John Dearing, Washington Office Senior Realty Specialist David Beaver, Headwaters Forest Manager Kathy Stangl, Acting Arcata Assistant Field Manger Justin Siestrand, Kat Darst of the NLCS Washington Office staff.

    Approvals: The agenda was approved. The minutes from the March meeting were approved as mailed.

    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    State Office update

    John Dearing of the California external affairs staff presented the report. Highlights:

    ; The state director is attending the BLM Executive Leadership Team meeting this week.

    RAC nomination packages were sent forward to the Washington Office. The BLM

    expects the secretary of the interior to announce appointments by September.

    ; Jim Caswell has been nominated to direct the BLM. He is an Idaho resident with a long

    resource management career and now heads the Idaho Office of Species Conservation.

    He has worked for the Forest Service, BLM and Bonneville Power Administration.

    Senate confirmation hearings will be scheduled. Jim Hughes continues as acting director.

    If confirmed, Caswell will replace Kathleen Clarke who retired last year.

; BLM’s 2007 budget is funded at the 2006 level with slight increases in construction and

    the National Landscape Conservation System. Congress is now deliberating the 2008

    budget submitted by the President.

    ; Tim Smith, Sterling White, John Kalish and Shane DeForest have been named to field

    manager positions in Bakersfield, Needles, Palm Springs and Cedarville respectively.

    The state leadership team is now fully staffed.

    ; Congress is holding hearings this week on a proposal to codify the National Landscape

    Conservation System. The bill has strong administration support. The legislation would

    create a system similar to the National Park System and National Forest System that

    would be administered by the BLM. John distributed a brochure about the NLCS

    (attachment).

    o Responding to questions, John said the bill would provide more attention to

    NLCS, but would not guarantee increased funding levels. There was discussion

    about the intent and effect of Congressional designations.

    ; Recreation RAC nominations have been sent to the secretaries of agriculture and interior.

    There were more than 40 candidates for 11 slots. Appointment letters are expected soon.

    ; BLM continues with developing proposals under the Managing for Excellence Initiative

    including shifting state structures to three tiers (state office, district offices and field

    offices) from the current two-tier structures (state office and field offices) now in place

    for most BLM states.

    California has developed a proposal to create Northern California and Central California

    districts (the California Desert District is already a three-tier structure. They are

    proposals only at this point. Details will be worked out over a two year implementation

    period. Final state proposals will be reviewed by the BLM director in August.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    RAC Comments:

    ; Ryan Henson said he does not support the idea of another layer between the state office

    and the northern California field offices. He was concerned with budget impacts on the

    field offices stemming from the need to fund the district administrative level.

    o Steve Anderson noted that detailed discussions might be premature as the details

    of the state three tier proposals are in the proposal phase now. There will be

    significant additional internal review and a two-year implementation period.

    ; Bob Warren noted that the potential benefits such as position sharing can occur in the

    current two-tier situation. He shared Ryan’s concern about budget impacts in this time of

    decreasing federal agency budgets. He said the proposal does not make sense in terms of

    the way the business world is evolving (shifting to leaner organizations with less

    overhead).

    ; Stan Leach said the new layer would create some new positions, such as district

    managers, and questioned what the new organization would accomplish that “we are not

    accomplishing now.”

    ; Michael Kelly said he shared the funding concerns stated by others. He was also

    concerned with changes in RAC representation. He said this RAC’s area of

    representation should not change.

    ; Michael summarized comments made by several members: they would prefer that the

    Northwest California RAC continue to represent the northwest California field offices,

    including Ukiah, regardless of the three-tier organization that is developed. Charlene

    agreed, but agreed that the Ukiah Field Office has much in common with Central

    California field offices in the energy and minerals areas.

    ; Charlene Wardlow questioned the rationale for the entire Managing for Excellence

    initiative.

    o John responded the effort is driven by a desire for the BLM to become more

    efficient and effective. Consequently, there are proposals to centralize

    information technology, human resources and services provided by the Denver

    service center.

    o Rich noted that the initiative provides opportunities to build manager career

    ladders a way to develop managers by providing multiple level management

    opportunities. Lynda noted that the shift to three-tier is certain. The state

    structures have been proposed and are now being discussed. Rich noted the

    Ukiah staff feels that the field office fits administratively with the Central

    California field offices Folsom and Hollister because of its energy program, and

    constituencies based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento region.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    Lynda, Rich and Steve noted that it is too early to tell what changes might occur

    with RAC representation. Lynda cautioned against too much speculation.

    ; Members asked for another update at the next meeting.

    ; Bob Warren noted that all BLM field offices are influenced by the Bay Area constituents;

    the influence is not just limited to the Ukiah, Folsom and Hollister field offices.

    ; Ryan said he was disappointed in the BLM’s national leadership for not seeking out RAC

    and other public input before the decision was made to move to a three tier structure.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

    Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act

    David Beaver of the Washington Office staff presented a PowerPoint overview of both programs with an emphasis on acquisitions and projects funded in northwest California. A hard copy of the program is attached to these meeting notes.

RAC questions and comments:

    ; Stan noted that in California, LWCF activity is heavily focused in Northwest California

    lands managed by the BLM.

    ; Michael questioned how funds from land sales will be used after FLFA expires. David

    noted funds will be sent into the treasury, as occurred before passage of the act. He said

    it is important for public land constituents to support funding of the LWCF and

    continuation of the FLTFA. David said if groups are interested in addressing funding

    needs they should be addressing the 2009 need now (the President’s proposed 2009

    budget will be announced in January). David suggested that if constituents decide to seek

    funding under LWCF they should coordinate with the BLM to seek funding that matches

    opportunities for projects or acquisition and BLM staffing ability to carry out the

    acquisitions or projects.

    ; Steve and Lynda noted that each office has LWCF opportunities, but are challenged by

    limited staffing. David noted that all BLM states face similar problems.

    ; Charlene agreed that support for continuation of FLTFA should be underway now. She

    also said that neither funding source provides for operation and maintenance of lands

    acquired with these funds. She questioned how the RAC could support the field offices

    needs for operations and maintenance funding.

    ; Kendall Smith said she was concerned with the decline in funding for the Land and

    Water Conservation Fund. She said the public should be involved in working to assure

    an appropriate level of consistent funding and funding certainty for the program from

    year to year.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    ; Ryan mentioned the LWCF coalition as an organization working toward funding

    consistency and certainty in the LWCF program.

    ; Ryan suggested that individual RAC members could indicate their support for LWCF

    funding for key BLM projects, possibly in conjunction with members of other BLM

    RACs.

    There was continuing discussion about opportunities for projects, changing and emerging opportunities and limitations of LWCF funding.

Sacramento River Bend ACEC

    Bob Warren updated the RAC on legislative proposals (Congressman Herger and Senator Boxer) to create a National Recreation Area in the Sacramento River Bend Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The effort has been supported by the Tehama and Shasta County boards of supervisors.

    Bob noted that the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association has been working with Tehama and Shasta counties and legislators for two years on the possibility of a designation, focusing on a National Recreation Area rather than the National Conservation Area that had been considered for several years.

    He said both legislators have introduced bills (copies provided), but they have vast differences. Congressman Herger’s bill provided greater detail (HR 1241) compared to the bill introduced by Sen. Boxer. Bob said the most difficult provision in the House bill is a requirement that a new advisory council be created to advise the BLM on management.

    He noted the BLM was asked to comment on the legislation. He provided a copy of a BLM memo noting the BLM concerns and comments on both bills (attachment).

    He said Tehama County wants more citizen input into development of the management plan. Bob presented a copy of his proposed changes to Sen. Boxer’s legislation that he feels would

    address the Tehama County concerns (attachment).

    He also presented a copy of proposed NLCS legislation, noting that National Recreation Areas are not included. He noted that legislation establishing a Sacramento River NRA could direct that the NRA be included as part of the BLM NLCS. He also discussed ongoing negotiations regarding the map that would accompany any legislation.

    Ryan said that a national designation would give the area the national recognition that it deserves.

    Bob noted that as a practical matter, the BLM would manage lands acquired adjacent to a NRA in a way consistent with the NRA. Lynda Roush noted that a similar process has been followed when land was acquired near the King Range National Conservation Area.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    Bob has requested that the Senator include in her bill a provision that the Northwest CA RAC assist the BLM in involvement of the management plan.

    Action: The 10 RAC members present indicated their support for the following statement.

    There was no vote or formal recommendation to the BLM due to lack of a quorum.

    Proposed Statement of the Northwest California Resource Advisory Council

    The BLM Northwest California Resource Advisory Council is encouraged by the

    potential opportunity for the BLM to oversee the Sacramento River Bend Area of Critical

    Environmental Concern under the provisions of a national designation, including that of

    a National Recreation Area, as reported to this group by Bob Warren of the Shasta

    Cascade Wonderland Association.

    The RAC, noting our primary charter responsibility of assisting the BLM with

    land use planning, would ask to be part of the process of developing a management plan

    for any new federal designation in the Sacramento River Bend area.

    The RAC offers a broad range of public perspectives in land and resource

    management. If the Sacramento River Bend area were to be nationally designated the

    Northwest California RAC, under its authority to create subcommittees and technical

    review teams, could be involved in development of the management plan, and would

    include subgroup membership by Tehama and Shasta County residents who have

    extensive knowledge of the natural resources of the Sacramento River Bend. The RAC

    would rely heavily on these residents to bring their knowledge of local issues and

    concerns into the RAC effort to help the BLM with development of the management plan.

    The RAC commends the BLM Redding Field Office for its outstanding work in

    managing the Sacramento River Bend and for its efforts to acquire property from willing

    sellers, making more of this special area available to the public. We look forward to

    continuing our assistance in managing this unique area.

Cow Mountain National Recreation Area

    Rich Burns updated the RAC on development of a new management plan for South Cow Mountain. The plan is required by federal legislation that established Cow Mountain as a Congressionally-designated recreation area.

    He said that local tribes have provided input to the field office about the importance of some areas on South Cow Mountain for traditional ceremonial and plant gathering purposes. He said the BLM will consider those viewpoints in development of the management plan.

    Additionally, Rich noted that a proposed property acquisition along Highway 175 is no longer being pursued. The involved parties have declined to continue discussions. The Ukiah Field Office was studying the acquisition as a way to provide additional access to South Cow Mountain. He said boards of supervisors in Lake and Mendocino counties have unanimously supported improved Cow Mountain access.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    The field office is now working with Lake County interests analyzing the potential acquisition of a parcel (the Green Ranch) in Lakeport on the east side of the South Cow Mountain Recreation Area just off state highway 29. The parcel could provide improved recreation area access and a possible location for a new county fairground.

    The field office hopes to get a draft management plan developed for public review by this fall. At a minimum a set of management strategies will be developed by then. Work will depend on filling a staff vacancy in the recreation program.

    The RAC at their March 2007 meeting provided recommendations for the BLM to consider in completion of the management plan.

Public Comments

Linda Hansen: Commended the Arcata Field Office for the Headwaters tour, and the

    Northwest RAC for their work.

Lacks Creek Management Plan

    Arcata Fisheries Biologist Dave Fuller briefed the council on development of a management plan for the Lack’s Creek area east of Arcata. The Lack’s Creek area is part of the upper protection zone for Redwood National Park. The BLM-managed public land includes about 4,000 acres of original public domain land and about 1,500 acres of former industrial timberland donated in 2005 to the BLM.

    Dave provided a PowerPoint presentation on the land and development of the management plan (attachment).

    Lynda noted the field office will use stewardship contracting as part of the restoration work. She said the area provides excellent public recreation opportunities because of its proximity to Arcata, and location above the fog line.

RAC Comments:

    ; Rondal Snodgrass said the area is rich in cultural and historic resources. He cited

    references in the book “In the Land of the Grasshopper’s Song, a 1908 account of life in

    the region. He said BLM should recognize the use of the region by the Chiula Tribe,

    which has all but disappeared. There is rich and significant history that must be

    preserved and documented. The BLM has an opportunity to revive documentation of this

    important piece of local history. He said the area is big enough to accommodate

    overnight backpacking. Back country camps would be ideal to accommodate camps for

    two to three-mile back packing trips. He said the areas important for traditional food

    uses should be protected. The area also provides traditional basket making and herbal

    medicine plants important to tribes. He said the plan should take that into consideration

    and contain provisions to maintain traditional food and basket plants. He said Lacks

    Creek holds tremendous potential for back country uses.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    ; Michael Kelley complimented BLM’s work on the scoping. He said the project is

    exciting.

    ; Stan Leach said eliminating too many roads might cause future access problems for

    equipment that will be needed for thinning and other forest improvement projects. He

    encouraged the staff to consider road needs for future improvement projects during their

    planning for road decommissioning.

    ; Stan noted that an increasing absence of grazing in meadows is leading to tree

    encroaching. He suggested grazing as a management tool. (Lynda noted there is a deed

    restriction on the donated land precluding livestock grazing).

Field Office Reports

    Redding: Steve Anderson presented a written report summarizing a volunteer donation to complete the new Hornbeck Trail. The trail will link to Walker Mine Road, nearly creating a loop trail from the city of Redding to Shasta Dam. The trail was named in honor of volunteer Chuck Hornbeck, a leader in mapping and creating the trail. Steve also noted:

    ; A new trail in the Swasey ACEC is complete thanks to a $40,000 donation from the

    McConnel Foundation.

    ; Field office crews are nearing completion of the Sacramento River Rail Trail extension.

    ; CDF crews completed a clearing project for a one-mile trail around Union Hill Pond in

    Trinity County.

    ; The field office is exploring new partnerships with the Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

    ; Bids will be opened June 12 for a fire timber salvage sale.

    ; Work continues on fence removal and other improvements on lands acquired in the

    Sacramento River Bend Area.

    Responding to questions, Steve said there are no new developments in the Area 51 land exchange. There is still no final ruling from the Interior Board of Land Appeals. In January the board ruled that appellants to the land exchange did not state sufficient grounds to prevent the exchange from proceeding, but did not issue a final ruling.

    Arcata: Lynda reported on several pending projects at the north part of the Headwaters Forest Reserve:

    ; A July project will make the lower first mile of the trail accessible for the disabled. Part

    of the trail is already paved. Stream improvements, including culvert replacement are

    part of the project.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    ; A historic train barn will be dismantled and moved to a location along the trail for use as

    an interpretive site.

    Ukiah: Rich Burns presented a written report covering fire and fuel projects, Knoxville management, Cow Mountain, the Black Forest, wind energy proposals, the Stornetta Public Lands, California Coastal National Monument, the Cache Creek Natural Area, the Lake Berryessa Visitor Services Plan and energy/geothermal programs.

Additionally he noted:

    ; There are continuing concerns with damage caused by shooting at the Knoxville

    Recreation Area in Napa County. It is the biggest management issue. The office is

    exploring partnerships, possibly involving the National Rifle Association, to address the

    problems.

    o Steve commented that it is important to know that when there are references to

    “shooting areas” being closed BLM managers are usually referring to closing

    areas where random target shooting has been occurring. He said BLM rarely

    closes “designated” shooting ranges.

    ; 300 volunteers worked on the first phase of a shaded fuel break project at the Black

    Forest. The work was a combined Earth Day/National Public Lands Day project. Work

    will be completed as an observance of National Public Lands Day this fall.

    ; At Cache Creek work continues on weed eradication projects. Yellow star thistle is still a

    problem. Cattle grazing appears to be having an effect at reducing other species

    including medusahead. Environmental groups, including Tuleome, have been supportive

    of the attempts to use grazing as a noxious weed improvement tool.

    ; A geothermal lease sale is planned for August at The Geysers.

    ; The field office is beginning trail relocation work at the Cedar Roughs Wilderness Area.

    Goals are to improve public access and signing.

    ; Stornetta Public Lands:

    o Rich showed examples of multi-lingual signs used to inform visitors about

    regulations regarding use of public lands and harvest of abalone.

    o Six persons have drowned during abalone diving along the Stornetta coastline in

    recent months.

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    Bureau of Land Management Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Summary meeting minutes, Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2007, Fortuna California

    o Abalone harvest use has declined because the abalone resource has been depleted

     the large specimens have been harvested.

    ; California Coastal National Monument

    o There is controversy in Gualala over plans for an Independence Day fireworks

    display. Some have expressed concerns that fireworks displace nesting seabirds;

    fireworks proponents contend that a negative impact has not been shown. The

    BLM, working with partners including the Fish and Wildlife Service and

    California Department of Fish and Game, is working on a protocol to monitor

    fireworks impacts on seabirds. Meanwhile, the fireworks opponents are asking

    the BLM and other agencies to prohibit the fireworks display.

Closing Business

    Next meeting: The Redding Field Office will host on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 20-21. A field trip to newly constructed recreation trails will be held the first day. The RAC tentatively set Dec. 6-7 for the following meeting to be hosted by the Ukiah Field Office.

    Next meeting topics: Update on national recreation area proposal, field office reports on minerals programs (including geothermal royalties and minerals products produced from public lands), Managing for Excellence update, Lacks Creek Management Plan, South Cow Mountain Management Plan, Weaverville Community Forest (Stewardship Contracting update), California Coastal National Monument (fireworks issue update and gateway developments).

    Note: Attachments referenced in these meeting notes are available by contacting BLM

    Public Affairs Officer Jeff Fontana at (530) 252-5332 or by email at

    jfontana@ca.blm.gov.

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