Forest Service wants to pick up QLG

Joshua Sebold
Staff Writer

At a recent meeting, Plumas’ Quincy Library Group (QLG) Forester Frank Stewart told the County Board of Supervisors that Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore wants to increase the “pace and scale” of QLG-type projects on public lands from 140,000 acres per year to a half-million acres per year.

“It’s a major commitment but they need to put their money where their mouth is on this issue,” he added.

Stewart said the QLG pilot project resulted in 145 timber sales to date, which have “produced right around 400 million feet of saw log volume.”

“That would go to Sierra Pacific, Collins Pine, some mills up in the Burney area and then stuff that goes to … Weaverville. They’re a small business and they come and compete.”

Stewart said those projects provided funding to the county from timber receipts.

He explained the Forest Service also uses service contracts, which don’t provide timber receipts but do give work to local businesses.

He said 64 percent of the $61.3 million in service contracts in the pilot project area since the year 2000 were awarded to contractors inside the eight-county zone where the work actually happens.

Of that $40 million in the pilot project, $11.8 million has gone to Butte contractors, $9.3 million to Shasta contractors and $9 million to Plumas contractors, with a significant drop-off to the fourth county, Nevada, whose contractors have received $2.7 million.

This means roughly 14.7 percent of the total service contract funding has gone to contractors in Plumas County.

Stewart said the Forest Service is now considering long-term stewardship contracts as the third prong of its QLG-type management practices.

The forester said the problem with this tactic is the county won’t get any timber receipts as the program is currently shaping up.

He explained the Forest Service plans to use the proceeds from biomass gained in those projects to pay for more work in a revolving-fund system.

Stewart added that Moore supports including timber receipts in that program and Congressman Wally Herger, one of the co-authors of the QLG pilot project, is working on a bill to ensure counties would receive funding from those projects.

Indian Valley Supervisor Robert Meacher said the reasoning behind increasing the pace and scale of this type of work is that Moore’s office recently predicted: “By 2050 the Sierra will start emitting carbon.”

Meacher explained that normally forests are thought of as sequestering carbon and this prediction means the Forest Service believes, “It’s going to burn.”

Referring to the catastrophic 2007 Moonlight Fire in Plumas County, he said if current forest practices aren’t changed “you’ll have so many Moonlights out there that the trees you have left standing are negated by the carbon being emitted by the burning.”

The supervisor commented that the prediction dovetailed into rural county’s recent complaints about the Forest Service’s new travel management plan.

“Once you lose the forest who’s going to want to travel on it anyway?” he exclaimed in exasperation.

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