Just back from vacation in the pine-beetle-ravaged Colorado mountains, I was pleased to see the letter (reproduced below) from Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Ranotta McNair regarding KEA’s request for long-overdue monitoring reports. The annual reports, required under several provisions of federal law, have not been produced since 2007.
McNair explains that Recovery Act projects have taken USFS staff away from the reporting requirements, but that the reports are on track to be complete by the end of August.
We certainly hope so. These reports are critical in understanding the state of our local forests, and understanding whether efforts to manage the forests are actually achieving their purposes or not. Moreover, as “collaboration” becomes the new paradigm for localized forest decision-making, availability of good science and good monitoring data becomes increasingly important to those doing the collaboration.
We’re pleased with the IPNF’s prompt response to our letter, but we remain anxious to see the actual reports.
The letter in its entirety:
Dear Mr. Harris,
With regard to your recent letter expressing concern about the current state of monitoring efforts on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, I want to assure you that we are working hard to issue the monitoring reports as expeditiously as possible.
Forest monitoring has been completed for each year since 2007, but due to staffing shortages we have been unable to complete all of the written reports. In addition, national priorities have diverted personnel from completing the reports. Our highest priority this past year has been creation of jobs for citizens in the Northern Rockies through Recovery Act projects. Our staffing shortages have been solved, and the majority of the $18 million in Idaho Panhandle National Forests ARRA projects have been contracted. Therefore, we expect to release the overdue monitoring reports no later than August 31, 2010. In addition to the 2007 and 2008 reports we will also be releasing the 2009 monitoring report at the same time, which will bring our forest up to date on monitoring and reporting requirements.
In closing, I want to assure you that our forest takes these reports seriously and our staffs are working diligently to complete our monitoring reports as soon as possible.
Ranotta K. McNair