Discussion

Let us know what you think about any topic related to the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project in the forums below. The Principal Investigators on the UC Science Team cannot answer every post, but they will read all comments in their areas, and respond to comments as a group at each quarterly meeting. We greatly value your input!

Met station concerns and comments by Kim_Ingram, at 11:07 a.m. on 30 November 2010,

The following concerns and comments were brought up from a general public participant after the UC Water Team field trip to Duncan Peak at the Last Chance study site. The UC Water Teams response follows.

"Thanks for allowing me to attend the field trip to Duncan Peak. Good timing....getting up there before this storm. I have one small concern. When there is a lot of snowmobilers out, those poles (met stations) won't be that easy to see. I think that they should be painted a bright orange on top to help for visibility. I mentioned it to the guy who was leading us to the different sensor sites... He said that they (snowmobilers) wouldn't be going that fast & would see them. I don't think that he understands that the extreme snowmobilers around here go very fast on the sides of the mountains, they don't stick to groomed trails; & are out at night sometimes in major storms...not just during the day. Although I agree that someone probably will not be hitting a sensor pole, it wouldn't hurt to make them more visible." Sincerely, Rita Moriarty

"Painting the poles orange would certainly make them more visible to snowmobilers...but my concern is that they would also be extremely visible to everyone else and make them very susceptible to vandalism. I also think that the number of trees surrounding most of our poles would not enable snowmobilers to go very fast around most of our installations. I have seen snowmobile tracks around our previously installed equipment, and they all purposefully avoid the poles. The solar panels on the top make them fairly visible to anyone close by in most conditions. While there are some snowmobilers that do go out at night and in blizzards, that is not recommended by, or for anyone and they do so at their own risk. Furthermore, all terrain covered by snowmobilers is supposed to be reviewed every time before any fast or difficult snowmobiling, due to changes in snow condition, along with any small trees, sticks, logs (or poles!) sticking up that may not be visible at fast speeds or from far away.

I appreciate the concern that Rita has shown for the snowmobilers out there (as we are some of them). We certainly don't want anyone getting hurt or injured from our installations. However, I believe that in most normal conditions our installations will not cause a problem for safe snowmobiling, and we cannot control the actions of those riders that choose unsafe snowmobiling practices."

Thanks, ~Phil Saksa UC Water Team

"Hi All,
I really didn't think about vandalism & wouldn't think that it would be a high priority in winter. Snowmobilers are normally just interested in riding. When you put up any extensions, it might be possible to flag or paint the tops in just the sites that are in the open . That way it isn't allot of extra work for the team. I just mentioned the visibility of poles because you said that if the people on the field trip thought of anything to let you know. I feel that visibility could be important & needed to address that issue." Thanks for listening. Rita Moriarty

MET Station costs by Kim_Ingram, at 10:32 a.m. on 27 October 2009,

At the September 1st water field trip to the Last Chance site, a question was raised as to how much our MET stations cost? There is potential interest by other organizations in setting up similar MET stations. The water team has provided the following estimated cost breakdown for the SNAMP MET stations.

Tower - 10 meter aluminum tower - $700; Datalogger - Campbell Scientific CR1000 - $1,350; Remote Data Transmitter - GOES Setup - $3,400; Precipitation - Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge - $1,100; Net Radiation - Kipp & Zonen NR Lite - $1,600; Incoming Radiation - Li-Cor Li200 - $500; Snow Depth - Judd Ultrasonic Sensor - $600; Barametric Pressure - Sollnst Barologger - $500; Wind Speed & Direction - RM Young 05103V - $1,150; Temperature & Relative Humidity - Visalia HMP50, Radiation Shield - $450; Misc. equipment - wires,box, concrete - $1,000;

Total - $12,350

Water Team Q & A Re. Moonlight fire by Kim_Ingram, at 10:52 a.m. on 3 September 2009,

The following question was submitted to the Water team for their consideration: Has SNAMP considered 'adapting' and having the water team take a 'side trip' to the Moonlight Fire perimeter to estimate sediment rates from the burned area? It is possible that this 65,000 acre perimeter is an ideal lab to quickly obtain valuable sediment information, particularly since this fire had a high percentage of high severity burn.

While the Moonlight fire has good potential to be a study area, it is not feasible for SNAMP to include this area due to the time/budget/objective constraints of this project. The Moonlight fires high severity burn was not part of a prescribed burn, so it is not comparable to fuels treatments conducted by the Forest Service with no potential for forest management recommendations.

Are you going to consider the impacts of climate change on hydrology?

Roger Bales said at 12:42 a.m. on 4 March 2006 ,

Turbidity is included in the proposed suite of measurements, primarily as an indicator of erosion and sediment movement associated with runoff events. It is proposed to use autonomous, continuous measurements, which will provide relative turbidity measurements at the same location over time. Regarding macroinvertebrates, we agree that grazing can have an effect; grazing practices and history will need to be evaluated as part of the detailed site selection. Grazing can affect other factors as well.

Erika Lovejoy said at 4:40 p.m. on 27 February 2006 ,

The Draft Workplan was not available at the web link we were originally given, and was also not released until February 21st, thus these comments will be brief.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the SNAMP workplan. Please consider the following questions and comments:

(1) Is an external scientific peer review proposed? A scientific peer review is critical to ensure: 1) management questions are clearly articulated, and 2) the study design is adequate to answer the management questions posed. "Adaptive management" can only work if the study designs are capable of truly answering the management questions. We recommend peer review be conducted by a panel of at least three external scientists with no connection to the USFS (i.e., not using current consultants or those with financial or other potentially conflicting interests) and be incorporated in to the workplan.

(2) Our understanding is that your on-the-ground projects will not be conducted within the Lahontan Region, however the results will be extrapolated to this Region. It would be very useful if your study design considered Lake Tahoe conditions, and those of other sensitive Sierra Nevada ecosystems. Note that the Lake Tahoe Basin is a highly sensitive area and not all management approaches may be appropriate for this area in terms of both potential negative environmental impacts and related regulatory restrictions. However, resources managers are very interested in what management strategies could be applied in the Tahoe Basin for fuels hazard reduction projects, while still protecting water quality and habitat. SPLATS can be especially problematic. While they provide for fire protection, they do not allow for wildlife habitat and have bare soils, which maximize erosion potential. They are essentially barren land. Are other methods being explored that can restore forests in a way that can be beneficial to water quality, fire protection, biodiversity, and overall forest health? The study focus on SPLATS seems to be very limiting. Given the amount of fuels hazard reduction work that is expected to occur over the next decade (playing “catch-up” for work that hasn’t been done yet), it would be very useful if the study examined other techniques that will allow for a more balanced set of “future desired conditions”, which is a stated goal mentioned in your study proposal.

(3) Models are being proposed as an evaluation tool. It will be critically important that the limitations of these models be clearly presented, so the study results do not initiate the use of inappropriate management strategies, especially in sensitive regions like the Lake Tahoe Basin.

(4) It would be useful for the study to clearly define soil types and conditions where treatments were conducted, so the study results can be appropriately extrapolated to other geographic areas in the Sierra Nevada. For example, for the portions of the project area treated with mastication, we would be interested in knowing what soil types and conditions (slope, moisture, vegetation) were present, in addition to the overall study results showing the impacts to soils, water quality, vegetation, forest health, and fire protection.

Erika Lovejoy Environmental Scientist Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board 2501 Lake Tahoe Blvd South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Cynthia Wilkerson said at 5:39 p.m. on 26 February 2006 ,

Please note: I sent a copy of my full letter directly to UC Davis and am now posting the entire letter in each section as it contains reference to each section and should be read in its entirety as opposed to piecemeal.

February 26, 2006

Comments on February 20, 2006 Draft Workplan “Learning how to apply adaptive management to land management in the Sierra Nevada.”

Defenders of Wildlife (“Defenders”) is pleased to submit these comments on the above document (heretofore “Draft Workplan”). Defenders is a national, non-profit wildlife advocacy organization committed to the protection of wild, native plants and animals in their natural communities. We represent over 400,000 members throughout the United States, nearly 100,000 of which reside in California.

Defenders, California Program has a programmatic focus on the Sierra Nevada, with current programs focused on forest carnivores (primarily the Pacific fisher) and impacts of grazing on biodiversity. We were unable to make the initial December 9, 2005 public meeting on the focus of the Draft Workplan, but have submitted some input into that process to date and remain committed to engaging in this process as it moves forward.

Our first comments relates to the unreasonable timeline imposed on public comments to this draft. We were originally informed that we would have one week between February 10th and the 17th to review this draft. The draft was not released until February 21st with a due date of February 26th. We understand that there are tight timelines that the authors are working under, but this should not allow extensions on their part to necessitate unreasonable and unrealistic timelines for public input. At the very minimum, the public should be allowed 2 full working weeks to provide substantive input. In this case, only 4 working days were allotted. Because of this, the only possible way to provide input in our case is to conduct a cursory review over the weekend. This is not an acceptable regime for functional public input.

As for the content of the Draft Workplan itself, we are appreciative of the concerted attempt to design a course of action that is true to the precepts of Adaptive Management and Monitoring to the extent that the proposal incorporates a priori research questions designed to be tested by the management practices which will in turn be responsive to the results of the research.

One main question that we have is why is the approach limited to the west side of the Sierra Nevada only? As the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment covers both west and east side forest management, it would appear that this would be a major omission.

We are generally supportive of the conceptual framework of using a landscape planning approach at the fireshed level, and incorporating elements of Fire and Forest Health, Public Participation, Water Quality and Quantity, and Wildlife. The following includes our specific comments on each of these sections of the Draft Workplan:

Public Participation:

We appreciate that Public Participation is given equal consideration in this process. It is a critical element to effective development and implementation of an adaptive management approach. In particular, we are pleased to see the call for staff to be wholly responsible for this portion of the Workplan and for the focus on increasing opportunities for input from local stakeholders. We support the general model that the participatory process section lays out. One concern is that the “community of learning” approach may not allow for direct input from the public. This may already be the plan, but we specifically request that direct input be allowed in both the “community of learning” and “community of collaboration” cases.

We support the use of web-based tools, but they must be accompanied by sufficient advertising and instructional outreach to inform people of their availability and how to use them. We also suggest that there be outreach via the public library system to capture the input of publics that may not have to the internet via a personal computer. An outreach element that include public instructional workshops at public libraries could facilitate informed participation to those with and without personal access to the internet. As mentioned previously, the public input time period should be reasonable. Depending on the level of analysis required, this time period should range from a minimum of 2 working weeks for shorter products (such as the 27 page workplan) to up to 3 months for larger documents (on the scale of a traditional NEPA or CEQA document). In addition to the geographically-based web comments, there must also be a section for general comments that are relevant to the entire geographic scope and the process itself.

We also suggest that regional workshops be developed throughout the life of this process where the public can be shown various simulated results of management options being considered. This has been done in regional transportation planning efforts (e.g. SACOG’s Regional Blueprint outreach workshops) and is a very effective educational and participatory tool that would apply to this situation.

For evaluation purposes, we suggest that options for gathering feedback at the time of input on the web system. This could provide general feedback on how long it took to get the input registered, if they felt they had effectively registered their comments, options of improvement, and the ability to capture instances where someone wanted to input something and was unable to do so for stated reasons. This could be done in the form of a pop-up window that folks could choose to complete or not, with response rates also reported.

Water Quality and Quantity: We are generally supportive of the approach outlined under this section. Defenders is particularly pleased to see that standard macro invertebrate indices will be used to determine the biological impacts of the management treatments.

Wildlife: We support the decision to prioritize which species should be the focus of the wildlife impacts analysis. It is not feasible to monitor all potentially affected species. We support the criteria laid out in the Draft Workplan as scientifically sound and would like to ask for one additional criteria. There must be some evidence that the focal species is a valid indicator for the response of a wide variety of other species in order for one or a few species to be used as a proxy for the response of several hundred. We believe that this can be demonstrated for the species currently prioritized by the Draft Workplan.

Additionally, it is important that the impacts to wildlife species also incorporate information regarding the landscape context of management actions. It may very well be that an individual treatment will have a negative impact on the ability of that area to sustain fisher populations. However, of more importance to the larger management throughout the Sierra Nevada is the ability of the entire landscape to provide for the sustainability of the species as a whole. It is possible that small, localized effects can be absorbed by the population if the entire landscape level management allows for viable populations. The authors make reference to this concept when they mention that treatments may very well lead to population sinks for a species. The availability of nearby population sources/ refugia and their ability to allow ultimate persistence of the species should be the focus of the wildlife analysis.

Defenders strongly agrees with the assertion that “simply documenting that some species will respond favorably [to the proposed treatment] will not solve the management dilemma we are attempting to resolve.” Beyond the implications of the public needing to understand and support the process and management results of the monitoring, we submit that all monitoring must be targeted at asking a question that is relevant to and result in direction to the management program.

Defenders is very concerned over the issue of the local extirpation in the northern study site. We do support the suggestion by the document that reintroduction could provide insight into the adaptive management process. We caution that the use of standards set by other successful fisher reintroductions be followed, and are specifically concerned about the ability of a source population from California to maintain the level of removals needed to establish a viable population. We have conducted a workshop on criteria for successful fisher reintroductions and ask that these guidelines be used as well as the methodology of a detailed and considered feasibility assessment and implementation plan that are both available for public review be included in any reintroduction efforts. These efforts must be conducted in the context of fisher conservation efforts throughout the west and in California. That said, we assert that a well-designed reintroduction to the northern Sierra would provide substantial conservation benefits to the species as well as critical information for the overall goals of the Draft Workplan.

Conclusion: Finally, we support the ambitious and reasoned scientific approach that the Draft Workplan lays out and caution that cost not be used an excuse for complete inaction. We look forward to continued participation in the on-going program of Adaptive Management and Monitoring in the Sierra Nevada. Should you have any questions, I can be contacted directly at: 916-313-5800 ext. 110 or cwilkerson@defenders.org.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Wilkerson California Representative

Defenders of Wildlife 1303 J Street, Suite 270 Sacramento, CA 95814

I have understood turbidity is generally not a good measure of water quality except maybe relative to repreated sampling over time in the same stretch of water, so I'm curious as to its inclusion. Grazing will affect stream macroinvertebrates. Will it be necessary to control insure grazing uniformity between contril and treatments?

Responses to the Comments Above

The objectives of the water component study are to: i) measure changes in water quality and water budget in representative areas subject to Framework/SPLAT’s treatment, ii) estimate the impact of forest treatments on water quality and water budget at fireshed/watershed, forest, and bioregion levels, and iii) provide a basis for continuing operational assessment of how Framework treatment will impact streams, water cycle and forest health. Because there is considerable emphasis on aquatic systems we will focus on representative catchments with 1st and 2nd order streams. Areas under consideration are in the , Tahoe, El Dorado, Sierra and Sequoia National Forests; all have roads in the watershed/fireshed.

The response variables include indicators of both water quality (temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity) and water budget (stream stage/discharge and soil moisture). Response of flow timing and peak flows will also be considered. Additional variables will be measured to assist system analysis of changes in water quality and quantity, including meteorology, erosion, soil temperature, snowpack and precipitation. Soil moisture is a key response variable to forest disturbance and significantly affect portioning of rainwater and snowmelt and thus crucial for evaluation of erosion, sedimentation, water yield and water quality.

The elevation band is determined based on where treatments are planned and the scientific criteria that the MOU partners developed. The critical mixed conifer zone for treatments crosses the rain-snow transition, and is in the 1200-2100 m (4000-7000’) elevation range in the Central Sierra and the 1500-2400 m (5000-8000’) band in the Southern Sierra. While we will focus intensive field measurements on 1-km2 headwater catchments, spatial analysis will be conducted at larger scales using spatial data to understand and model the impact of the treatments on larger areas. Available spatial data include topography, canopy characteristics, roads, fire history, past management actions and other characteristics.

We understand that effects of the treatment on water quality and quantity, particularly erosion and sedimentation, may be remarkable at the beginning of the treatment and become gradually lessened over time. We will measure response variables before and after the treatment. We also measure those variables in a control basin parallel to the treatment. In selecting the study sites, physical, historical and management factors will be definitely considered to account for watershed variability. Placing our measurements in a longer-term context will rely on the few historical data available in the region.

Dec. 9th Meeting Participant said at 8:23 p.m. on 6 January 2006 ,

Water quality parameters: need to put erosion in a historical perspective, not simply near-historical (sedimentation needs to be analyzed in context: see similar comment above)

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