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!

Splat Implementation - Aug 20, 2008 by Linda Blum, at 12:16 p.m. on 9 September 2008,

Hi Susie,

Your reactions are right on target, and give me a chance to try to clarify what it is I think we're doing in SNAMP and the Last Chance NEPA process.

The UC Science Team will eventually come to some conclusions about the effects of implementing the 2004 Framework's SPLAT strategy, right? That's the whole point of UC's involvement in SNAMP.

What George and I and others are questioning is whether the Last Chance project is really implementing SPLATs. By asking about the Tahoe's overall landscape SPLAT strategy and Last Chance's place in it, as well as asking about the site-specific rationales for the Last Chance units, we are trying to uncover why the USFS thinks this project is a true implementation of the SPLAT strategy.

What I'm most concerned about is that a bunch of conclusions will be drawn and published about the SPLAT strategy -- and, because UC will be the publisher, those conclusions will immediately take on the gloss of Truth and Science -- when in reality the Finney SPLAT theory will not have been implemented.

Secondary to that concern is the public involvement/public disclosure aspect of how the USFS carries out its NEPA process. By sharing my comments with you and Adriana, I am trying to show the SNAMP Public Participation team how the SPLAT development explanation provided by Karen really doesn't answer the questions we had, but is actually not much more than boilerplate.

Linda

Splat Implementation - Aug 19, 2008 by George Terhune, at 12:15 p.m. on 9 September 2008,

Susie and others,

I did not mean to suggest that the SNAMP team should be held responsible for the design of the Last Chance SPLAT treatments. However, since you do claim that these treatments would support an adaptive management evaluation of the SPLAT strategy, I think you should be held responsible to choose a project which would permit a determination to be made of whether the strategic placement of Strategically Placed Area Treatments was successful or not. What I intended to suggest was that this project by its very nature would not permit that determination to be made, and thus was not a suitable subject for the SNAMP study. As I believe I said in the very first comments I made some years ago, your initial plan did not make good on your stated intention to examine the underlying concepts, but instead accepted the claims made for the SPLAT strategy without giving the strategic concept any critical examination. As evidenced by the Last Chance project, SNAMP was instead satisfied to examine some treatments claiming to be SPLATs, looking only at their local effects, paying no attention to whether they represented the pattern of treatments on the landscape, and would have the claimed strategic effect at landscape scale, which is the make-or-break question at the heart of the SPLAT strategy.

If you're unable or unwilling to examine SPLAT projects that actually would be capable of demonstrating the landscape-scale strategic benefits claimed in the Framework EIS, then I suggest that either you eliminate "SPLAT" from the description of what you are evaluating, or drop the whole thing. Otherwise you are wasting your time and resources, and worse yet, you risk producing a false evaluation of the SPLAT strategy. It's bad enough to have the Forest Service mis-characterizing and mis-using Finney's work by claiming to implement his theory while bastardizing it into something else entirely. It would be worse yet if those involved in the SNAMP program should either inadvertently or knowingly endorsed that corruption.

George Terhune

Splat Implementation - Aug 19, 2008 by Susie Kocher, at 12:14 p.m. on 9 September 2008,

Hi Linda,

Thanks for sharing these comments with us. I will forward them on to the UC Science Team as we are definitely interested in public comments on the project.

However, as you probably know, the UC Science Team is not involved in designing the SPLAT strategy or the projects in particular, since that is within the purview of the USFS and their management responsibility. In other words, the Science Team is studying effects of these treatments rather than participate in the treatment design.

Still, your comments are valuable to us, especially within the Public Participation Team in that they help us better understand the issues around the treatments and so help us better to understand how to involve the public and work to make sure questions from the public about the project are answered.

At the last integration team meeting that you attended on July 25th in Auburn, the issue of the strategy behind Last Chance Project SPLATs was discussed. A key agreement from that meeting was that Kim Rodrigues and Ann Huber of the UC Science Team committed to working with the USFS to produce information on treatment placement strategy for the Integration Team.

Hopefully the soon to be released Environmental Assessment referenced in Karen Jone's email will include some of the more specific information that you request. If not, we will work with our agency partners to try to address your questions.

Thanks again,
Susie

Splat Implementation - Aug 17, 2008 by Linda Blum, at 12:13 p.m. on 9 September 2008,

Susie: I'm sending these comments back to you as well as to Karen, in case the SNAMP team is interested in public feedback. I think the 2004 Framework's SPLAT strategy is no strategy at all, if this project is representative.

Thanks,
Linda Blum

Splat Implementation - Aug 15, 2008 by George Terhune, at 12:11 p.m. on 9 September 2008,

Regarding the three page "Last Chance Project Area SPLAT Development" paper, it illustrates once again that the so-called "SPLATs" being implemented bear virtually no relationship to the "strategic pattern" that the Framework EIS claims would be provided. The EIS very clearly says the basis of the SPLAT strategy is the "Finney theory," which isn't just a bunch of "speed bumps" scattered across the landscape, but a regular (in fact rather rigidly defined) pattern of treatments at landscape scale. The so-called SPLATs discussed in the paper have no particular geometric definition and they don't fit any landscape-scale pattern that is stated or discernible.

First, though, I guess I had better ask whether the blue squiggles on the map are the treatments. It doesn't say, but I assume they are, and will proceed on that basis. The focus of my comment is on the first two sentences of the second paragraph of the paper.

The first claim is that "The SPLATs proposed in the Last Chance Project Area continue the ongoing process of development of a pattern of treatments across the landscape." What pattern? The difference between a proper "pattern" and an unplanned scatter is that any pattern that deserves the name has to be established ahead of time. Exactly how do these treatments fit into a landscape-scale strategic pattern? The plain answer is that they don't. Of it they do, why isn't that pattern indicated (or at least clearly described) in the document? And if it exists, why isn't SNAMP applying its adaptive management tests to the pattern, which is the most crucial characteristic, not just the individual treatments? Then the paper claims that "Effective SPLATs are characterized by more open stands of larger fire resistant trees with reduced amounts of ladder and surface fuels." Well, that's pretty good motherhood and apple pie, but it is not a valid statement of what differentiates a SPLAT from any other fuel reduction treatment. The defining characteristic of a SPLAT, as explained in the EIS, is that each treatment is part of a strategic pattern which slows and moderates the fire due to the pattern of treatments, and the claimed effectiveness of such a pattern depends critically on the sizes, shapes, spacing, and overlaps of the individual treatment areas, not just the fuel reduction done within each area. If you don't achieve that landscape-scale effect from the pattern of treatments, you don't have a SPLAT.

Or, to put it the other way around, if you claim that any treatment which meets the criteria stated in the above-quoted sentence is a SPLAT, you have destroyed the meaning of the term that was clearly intended in the EIS.

I won't carry the argument further in this context, because I have already explained the deficiencies of the SPLAT strategy and its proposed implementation at greater length in a different paper "The False Promise of SPLATs." No amount of SNAMPing is going to fix those fundamental and fatal deficiencies.

George Terhune

Splat Implementation - Aug 15, 2008 by Susie Kocher, at 4:05 p.m. on 8 September 2008,

Hello SNAMP participants,

Karen Jones, Interdisciplinary Team leader for the Last Chance project on the Tahoe National Forest has asked that we forward this message along to those who attended the SNAMP Owl Integration Team meeting on July 25th in Auburn.

'The Last Chance Project interdisciplinary team was asked to document the rationale for placement of the Last Chance SPLATs at the last IT meeting on July 25. Attached is part of our rationale for SPLAT placement and more info is in the soon to be out EA. Can you please pass this along to the IT mailing list? Thanks in advance. - Karen' For more information, please contact Karen Jones - karenjones@fs.fed.us

Thank you,
Susie Kocher

US District Court Decision - Basin Project by Maggi Kelly, at 3:30 p.m. on 14 August 2008,

Judge M. C. England has found in favor of the Forest Service and HFQLG Pilot on 11 out of 12 points in the challenge of the 2004 Sierra Nevada Framework and the Basin Project on the Plumas National Forest. The Decision Document and some content from the document are posted on the discussion site.

New! Map-based discussion here. by Maggi Kelly, at 4:23 p.m. on 1 August 2008,

You can now add a comment that is tied to a place on the map: a point, a line or a polygon. These posts will still be associated with a topic, but they will also show up on the map. On the Discussion Page, go to the "Map" tab and add your comment. Give it a try!

The study areas were selected prior to the participation of the owl team. They were selected on the basis of a variety of criteria that reflected the multiple elements of the SNAMP project. The study area selection team believed that owls would be present on the northern study area. However, they did not know how many owls would be present on the study area because current information on owl territory status was lacking.

The results of our first field season gave us concern that the study area was not large enough to contain a sufficient number of owl territories. We surveyed the entire SNAMP study area, as well as a 1.5-mile buffer zone around the SNAMP study area. We found that only 50% of the designated Protected Activity Centers (PACs) within the owl survey area were occupied in 2007. The location of owl PACs were obtained from the California Dept. of Fish and Game prior to the 2007 field season.

Prior to deciding on our current owl study design, we noted the lack of road access on the study area, which would severely hinder the use of radio telemetry. A long-term radio telemetry study would also require multiple recaptures of individual owls to replace batteries, which could prove to be infeasible if the owls became increasingly wary of being captured. Most importantly, the use of radio telemetry would be cost-prohibitive in terms of the overall SNAMP budget.

During the meeting in Auburn on November 29, I came to understand that the SNAMP fisher study does not have any fishers with collars at this point, so the story I heard regarding fisher mortalities necessarily does not come from this study. However, my point remains unaffected, as several of the parties in the SNAMP study are on record as stating they believe the fisher population in the southern Sierra Nevada to be so fragile that the loss of even one female could be significant.

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