25 July 2011

Dr. Reginald Barrett resigns from SNAMP

The UCST has received and accepted resignation of Dr. Reginald Barrett from the UC SNAMP Fisher study effective August 1, 2011. Dr. Barrett's resignation letter can be found here. Dr. Rick Sweitzer will assume the scientific lead for the fisher team and remains committed to maintaining the high scientific standards established in this project.

The SNAMP project is facing serious financial and scheduling challenges. Dr. Barrett has been very clear and upfront from the start about the resources needed to accomplish the goals of the fisher project. The MOU partners currently are unable to provide the necessary resources to both fully fund the fisher project and maintain the integration that is a foundational element of SNAMP. In the immediate term (calendar year 2012), we see no prospects for raising the additional funding. Also while we have no firm commitments, the USFS has informed us that we should plan for a 15% cut in their contribution from last year. Thus we are working with $1.19M budget as opposed to the $1.4M we received last year (amounts include the $323,000 in aviation expenses). Given these financial prospects, Dr. Barrett decided that he could not deliver on the initial project goals and resigned.

Dr. Barrett will continue to be involved in the scientific and intellectual enterprise in collaboration with Dr. Sweitzer. It is clear that his ambitious and comprehensive research on the Pacific fisher has yielded novel insights about the drivers of fisher population biology in the southern Sierra Nevada. The role of intraguild predation, the hazards of Highway 41, and perhaps most significantly, the ubiquity of rodenticide exposure in the Pacific fisher, are reshaping how we plan to conserve and restore this species. His contributions to date are significant and his continued intellectual engagement is most welcomed.

The UCST remains committed to exploring work plan updates that support a fully integrated, interdisciplinary project devoted to the research goals initially established through the MOU with the state and federal agencies. The commitment to a collaborative adaptive management effort that engages the agency partners and the public remains at the core of our work.

However while we remain committed to deliver on the promise of SNAMP, the UC ST intends to evaluate if we can attain the ambition of SNAMP with the resources available. This evaluation is ongoing and will be completed in the next two months.

The UCST will provide more details regarding any/all changes to the work plan due to time and/or budget constraints as soon as we are able to reach understanding and agreements as a team. We sincerely appreciate the continued support of the MOU partners and the interested public participants. We encourage all questions/concerns to be posted on the web for immediate response. We will coordinate a public discussion of this matter in the near future and/or as a key component of the annual meeting on October 27th, 2011.

With Respect,

Kim Rodrigues, on behalf of the SNAMP Public Participation Team

John Battles, on behalf of the SNAMP Science Team

Comments

1 John Buckley - CSERC says...

Anyone who has followed the SNAMP fisher study over the years recognizes the extremely high value and scientific credibility that Dr. Barrett brought to the effort. Reg and Rick have been visible examples of scientists pursuing important research in a manner that raises public confidence and bolsters other connected study efforts. Obviously, it is a potentially lethal blow to the fisher study that the government agencies (with the USFS being the lead agency) cannot follow through on promised funding commitments.

For all who are relying on the SNAMP fisher study to provide critical answers to how fishers may be affected by forest management practices, please read Reg's resignation letter carefully. It spells out that unless additional funding is provided, it will be impossible to complete the fisher study in a way that will produce reputable, peer-reviewed answers to the original adaptive management questions.

I respectfully suggest that the failure to provide those scientific answers will almost certainly lead to further litigation, more appeals of projects, and further delays in important fuels treatment and forest health work throughout the Region.

Posted at 7:35 a.m. on July 26, 2011

2 Linda Blum says...

For all who are hoping the SNAMP fisher study will provide critical answers to how all human activities, not just forest management, affect fishers, there is much to appreciate about Dr. Barrett's contributions. Forestry seems to take a back seat to other concerns, and we would not have known that but for the SNAMP work done so far. I hope all my environmentally minded friends will help other people understand what they can do to reduce fisher fatalities.

Posted at 9:19 a.m. on July 26, 2011

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