Though Congress has not yet renewed the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act, and the prospect seems unlikely, the legislation’s influence will be felt for years to come.
Many of the timber harvest projects developed under the Quincy Library Group model are in the Forest Service pipeline, but perhaps even more critical is its legacy.
“Some of the basic ideas of the QLG proposal, at least locally, are fairly well imbedded in the process,” said George Terhune, a library group member.
Quincy Library Group members have met monthly for 20 years, but they were at a crossroads when they came together June 27.
A flurry of emails preceded the meeting, as members weighed in on whether or not the effort should continue beyond the two-decade mark.
Bill Coates and Michael Jackson, two of the three original cofounders, attended last Thursday’s meeting.
“The meeting was probably really healthy,” Coates said. “It refocused us all a little bit. We looked at what had been accomplished and what could still be done.”
The Quincy Library Group hoped to maintain healthy forests and stable communities by harvesting timber in a manner that made the forests more fire resistant, while providing a merchantable product that could boost the local economy.
Though the concept was never implemented to the degree that was originally envisioned and approved by Congress, what was achieved was deemed successful.
“It actually does work on the ground,” said Jerry Bird, supervisor for the Lassen National Forest, during an interview following the meeting. “I’m committed to be engaged with the group, whether the act is renewed or not.”
Bird said that work originated under QLG would be implemented through 2016.
Following the completion of those projects, Bird said the verbiage could change, but he anticipated the concepts to remain the same.
“The act was very specific, so we may see different terminology,” Bird said and cited as an example the use of the phrase “defensible fuel profile zones.”
He said the new term could be “shaded fuelbreaks” but the idea of reducing ladder fuels, and reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires, would continue.
Bird said he likes working with the QLG because it provides valuable interaction with the community — from those in the timber industry, to local leaders, to environmentalists. “It’s a good sounding board,” he said.
Bird said he found it remarkable that individuals would devote 20 years of their lives to a goal and still remain passionate about it.
“Twenty years did not burn them out; that’s impressive,” he said.
The day after the meeting, Coates reflected on what comes next and admitted that he “tends to get fired up” during the discussions, but then in the aftermath questions the reality of what can be accomplished.
If two decades and a literal act of Congress couldn’t accomplish the QLG vision, then its members are unsure of the next step.
“It doesn’t complete the work that should’ve been done,” said Terhune. “But far and away it’s the most that’s been done.”
Terhune said the bulk of Thursday’s meeting focused on whether the group should continue its efforts.
“We need to stay engaged and keep participating in the process,” Terhune said. While the group grapples with whether there is another major effort to be undertaken, they will “concentrate on making useful comments on projects as they come up.”
Another QLG member, John Sheehan, said that the group decided to continue meeting for as long as its members felt it was useful.
Sheehan described the meeting as a “good discussion and a good back-and-forth” with the Forest Service.
“We really talked a lot about how the Forest Service implemented QLG and how we want to continue to work together,” he said.
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