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August 24, 2009 Minutes

Page history last edited by Kristina Ferrare 12 years ago

Good Forestry in the GraniteState

Steering Committee Meeting

ConservationCenter, Concord, NH

August 24, 2009

 

Present:

Karen Bennett, UNH Cooperative Extension, Bob Bradbury, Landvest, Emily Brunkhurst, NH Fish and Game, Kristina Ferrare UNH Cooperative Extension, Ken Desmarais, NH Division of Forests and Lands, Geoff Jones, Forester, Don Kent, NH Natural Heritage Bureau, Bill Leak, USFS Northern Research Station, Jasen Stock, NHTOA, Matt Tarr, UNH Cooperative Extension, Dave Tellman, NH Tree Farm Program and Landowner, Dick Weyrick, Granite State SAF, Mariko Yamasaki, Northern Research Station, Mark Zankel, The Nature Conservancy.

 

Karen called the meeting called to order at 9:10.

 

Review Minutes from July 23, 2009

Mark Zankel clarified that he asked what was inflammatory about the phrase “use of chemicals” not the word “chemicals”. Don Kent submitted typo-level edits for correction. Emily moved to accept the minutes with the proposed changes. Mark seconded the motion.

 

The July minutes passed with edits.

 

Karen reminded the group that the public comment period on the draft would begin on September 1. She feels confident about the work that will be presented.

 

Discussion of NHTOA review

Matt Tarr, Jasen Stock and Phil Bryce met with NHTOAsub-committee to discuss the vernal pool chapters and other chapters. Jasen will fill us in on the discussion and relay issues. Matt will discuss the vernal pool chapter.

 

Jasen reviewed Seeps, High Elevation Forests and Erosion and Soil Damage with a group from NHTOA. Members at this meeting were Ed Witt, chair of the NHTOA policy committee, log buyer for Madison Lumber mills and a consulting forester, Ann Davis, a landowner with a conservation easement on her property, Tom Colgan, President, Wagner Forest management, Tom Christenton, Tree Farmer, Roger Garland, Jr., logging contractor, Dan Cyr a consulting forester. Matt and Phil were also there.

 

Jasen explained general comments about the book. There were general questions about the utility of the document given the revisions. The current revision is a more technical how to manual. Ann Davis found the length of the vernal pool chapter and the number of references intimidating. Jasen asked if references could be reviewed and streamlined.

 

The NHTOA group felt the general tone of the draft is anti-management and anti- forestry. There is emphasis on potential negative impacts. This may be confusing or intimidating to a new landowner.

 

There was also a concern about mission creep. For example, in the high-elevation chapter, it names clearing for communication towers, ski areas and wind facilities as a threat to high elevation forests. These have nothing to do with forestry practices and should not be included in the chapter.

 

The NHTOA group also questioned what qualified as an appropriate reference. Is testimony, for example on the Bicknell’s thrush, as acceptable as peer reviewed literature? The group also questioned supporting data for the statement about Canada lynx returning to New Hampshire and its dependence on high elevation forests.

 

Jasen also explained that there were concerns over several of the considerations and recommendations. The NHTOA group felt some suggestions were based on opinion or were commentary. Some examples are: (1) not harvesting in high elevation forests, (2) the notion that harvesting above 3000 feet is not economically viable, and (3) the suggestion that if harvesting in a high elevation forest consider signing a memorandum of understanding with NH Fish and Game or NH Division of Forests and Lands.

 

Matt spoke about the references. He suggested that perhaps there be one reference section at the back of the book. Flow between sections and chapters would be smoother and readers would not be sidetracked or overwhelmed with a lengthy references section.

 

Mark suggested keeping the references at the end of each section, organized by chapter, may be a better idea. It would be easier for readers to find the references that really interest them.

 

Emily cautioned that consolidating the reference list may make updating individual chapters more difficult.

 

Don reminded the group that the document is set up to look at individual subjects. It would be difficult to hunt around for references in a long list. He also said that the document is not meant to be the treatise on forest management. Scientific issues will be debated in the literature. The steering committee is meant to be balanced to avoid any author pushing a particular agenda.

 

Geoff suggested keeping the references with its chapter because each chapter is meant to stand alone. It is easier to update and photocopy as a complete section when everything is together. Regarding being intimidated by the number of references, Geoff said some people look at references and others go right by them.

 

Bill Leak noted that some references refer to studies in other regions of the country. We should review these references and perhaps eliminate some of them.

 

Matt agreed that these were all valid points. He added that, since references can be intimidating to a non-scientist, perhaps we can say something about the references in the introductory information.

 

Karen said the public review sessions may help us decide where to put the references. We will make a point of asking this question. In the meantime, she asked the committee to review their respective references and eliminate unnecessary citations. She asked that they submit their changes to her on a hard copy. She will leave references at the end of their respective chapters for now.

 

Mark returned to the discussion about standards for a reference. What is the minimum standard for a reference? Is testimony at a regulatory hearing valid?

 

Dave Tellman said we need to know what points people are questioning during the public review process. We may need to clarify information with a reference or at least make changes.

 

Ken explained that his staff frequently looks at references to clarify points of confusion in the text. They even review testimony. Without references, it is hard to know where ideas come from.

 

Jasen asked again about referencing testimony and the Bicknell’s thrush example. Don said we cannot rely exclusively on peer reviewed literature. Technical reports and the experience of committee members are valid as well.

 

Emily said the point about the Bicknell’s thrush is well proven. It is in the Wildlife Action Plan. She suggested finding a different reference for this point.

 

Karen asked Don and Emily to verify the fact in question (re Bicknell's thrush) and us a different reference.

 

Don asked the committee to come to consensus about how to deal with the comments from NHTOA and similar comments. He said that those with specific criticisms are obligated to support them.

 

Jasen reminded the committee that he was asked to gather feedback from his constituents. He wanted to be sure the committee understood NHTOA is not comfortable with the document.

 

Geoff asked what areas are anti-forest management. That is where we need to focus our attention.

 

Matt explained that the group disliked the word “avoid”. In some cases the word “minimize” could be substituted for “avoid”. Karen had recieved a comment that the word “issue” had negative connotations. She asked what word could be substituted for “issue”.

 

Mark suggested asking people to explain their comments during the public comment period. If people have objections to something in the draft, it willd be helpful if they address those objections as specifically as possible. This will help the steering committee look at the subject with a fresh perspective.

 

Emily stated that it is helpful for people to point out things like references that may not be appropriate and statements that may have nothing to do with forestry. Emily also said that fixing tone is part of the editorial review process.

 

Matt said another general concern of the NHTOA group is how Good Forestry will be used to develop legislation. This issue will be discussed in an introductory section.

 

Don said people need to understand that they are reading chapters that pertain to their objectives. They will “avoid” practices that do not support their goals.

 

Matt explained that he left the word “avoid” in where he felt it was the most appropriate word. Comments are important, and they should cause the author to look more closely at their language.

 

Mariko reminded the group of the ultimate goal of the project: maintain forest as forest. There is a concern that what we create will be used for legislation. However, once something is published, it is out of our control. We must focus on the long term goal of keeping woods as woods.

 

Jasen explained that the NHTOA committee members are on the ground and laying out harvests. They think landowners will get the wrong idea from this document. It discourages harvesting. They take exception to the tone.

 

Jasen also explained that there is the issue of redundancy in chapters and between chapters. For example, the high elevation chapter has a sentence in it about soil compaction. This notion already would have appeared in the soil section. It is not specific to high elevation soils. Compaction is a potential problem in all soils. Another notion is the recommendation to site roads to avoid fragmentation. This is also not specific to high elevation forests. Eliminating repetition will shorten the document.

 

The NHTOA group also did not like the recommended practice suggesting that landowners work with state agencies to avoid a “take” of a protected species. He explained that the work “take” is a flash point that puts landowners and foresters on edge.

 

Karen asked why is it bad to say it is positive to avoid such a thing. Dave suggested adding some qualifiers to soften the language. Karen explained that she has been removing phrases such as “if possible” from the document for readability. They can be inserted into nearly every recommendation.

 

Jasen offered to type up the comments from the NHTOA meeting and email them to Karen.

 

Bob asked if the whole committee could see those comments. Karen reminded the group that we needed to have a draft posted by September 1 and there was not time for a lengthy email exchange. The document was still a draft and the comments would all be considered.

 

Emily wanted to be sure that the NHTOA group understood that we discussed some but not all of their concerns and that the remainder would be considered during the comment period.

 

Jasen agreed but stressed again that his constituents are concerned about supporting this document.

 

He began to highlight some concerns with the Old Growth chapter.

 

He asked about old growth forest goals statewide. There were several questions: Since the WMNF has a lot of old growth coming on line, should every landowner be considering old growth structure? Should someone with 50 acres make old growth part of their objectives? Is the old growth on the WMNF enough for the state? How does managing 5% of the state’s forests as old growth play figure into a small landowner’s woodlot?

 

Don explained that managing for old growth is not mandatory. It depends on landowner objectives.

 

Mark explained that intention is not that 5% of every woodlot should be old growth. However, old growth should be distributed around the state and across all the state’s forest types. The old growth in the WMNF is not enough to meet the goal.

 

Jasen asked if the recommendations could be better qualified to say there are already areas protected for old growth.

 

Mark said the areas of old growth we have are not 5% of the state’s forest resource.

 

Emily added that we need old growth in different places, but we may want to say that the recommendations fit best with forests of a certain acreage or forest type. The landowner or forester may then make a better decision.

 

Mariko asked to clarify that old growth in the WMNF is not just in high elevation spruce fir, but other forest types as well. We should also express clearly that small landowners may not be able to meet many of the recommendations in this chapter.

 

Karen asked if there was concern that people would read this chapter and want to permanently protect the land.

 

Jasen said the paragraph beginning with “Spruce, hemlock, yellow birch….are the typical canopy species”, should be moved to earlier in the issues section.

 

Jasen also referred to the statement that old growth forests remove carbon from the soil. He said that all forests sequester carbon. This notion can be deleted from this chapter and shorten the text.

 

Mark said it is worth mentioning that old growth forests sequester carbon because initially, it was thought that they did not. However, research since the beginning of the carbon debate suggests otherwise. Stating that old growth stores carbon reverses the initial thinking.

 

Don cautioned that we cannot assume that people will read the entire document. We should not strive to shorten the book by creating holes.

 

Jasen suggested that a sentence about carbon sequestration should also be added to regenerating clearcuts and other chapters as well.

 

Geoff explained that if each chapter is meant to be a stand alone section, there has to be redundancy. People should be aware of how complex ecosystems are. People who are intimidated should hire a forester to bridge the gap. This is very complex and we do not have all the answers.

 

Jasen added that this notion should appear in other forest types as well. Geoff said that is a matter for editorial. In a vacuum people will think old growth forests are the only forests that store carbon. This is inferred by stating the idea here and not elsewhere.

 

Karen offered to reword the sentence to make it inclusive of more forests.

 

Bill said we are getting into details that are still under debate. The idea that forests store carbon is what people need to know. He agreed that the tone is negative towards management in some parts of the book.

 

Don wondered whether we talking over the heads of our audience by including so much detail.

 

Returning to the list of recommended practices, Jasen said the second bullet did not consider landowner objectives. The notions of bullet three have already been discussed, and the bullet is redundant. We should avoid mixing issues with forest practices. He also reported that the phrase “allow them to develop naturally” in bullet four is redundant.

 

The NHTOA group liked the final bullet, which gave a concrete list of things to do if the landowner is interested in old growth.

 

Emily suggested moving the concept of “protect and conserve” to the first bullet. This way we are telling people what we want them to do once they identify old growth forests.

 

Jasen asked why the second bullet and the last bullet are separated. The second bullet points to landowner objectives, but the last bullet describes what to do.

 

Emily said the concepts are different – one is about existing old growth and the other about creating old growth. Both are about the landowner learning and figuring out objectives. The fundamental idea is if you find it, we’d like you not to cut it. We should be up front about it. We can say “protect and/or manage” to allow flexibility.

 

Mark asked the rest of the steering committee how they felt about the discussion. Karen said she feels that this book is about voluntary practices. Old growth is a scarce resource in New Hampshire. We should recommend not cutting it.

 

Don said we are only recommending not cutting old growth if that is a major objective. Good Forestry is objective based. Landowners are not obligated to do everything in every chapter.

 

Matt stressed that this notion has to be included in the introductory chapter.

 

Mariko said that old growth is a scale and a species question. There are a lot of shallow rooted species that blow down in big chunks. On small properties, it is not worth keeping 10 acres of this type. Natural disturbance will prevent it from achieving old growth status.

 

Dave said that this chapter is a reference. We should give landowners some credit for being smart and interested. As a landowner, he would read this if he were interested in old growth or if he had old growth on his property. He felt that many members of NHTOA would do the same.

 

Rare Wildlife – Species of Greatest Conservation Need

 

Emily presented this chapter for a second review. It is now titled “Wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need” to correspond with language in the Wildlife Action Plan.

 

Emily explained that she had removed all discussion of particular wildlife species. She did leave the references in and asked the committee to help decide whether or not to include them all.

 

Mariko asked whether there is there a list of all the species that fall into this category and are either protected under the NH Endangered Species Conservation Act, or listed in the NH Wildlife Action Plan. Emily said we had discussed including that list in the appendix.

 

Dick asked whether the WAP list is the most accessible list. Emily responded that it depends on what habitats landowners have and what they are interested in.

 

Matt questioned whether we needed this chapter at all. The chapter is very general because we have so many wildlife species. It does not add anything specific that is not already discussed in greater detail in other chapters.

 

Emily responded that not all the species are addressed in other chapters. This short introduction is a good place for landowners to start. It also helps people figure out whether or not they have rare species. A lot of people do not realize that there are ways to figure this out.

 

Matt asked if those points could be made in the introductions we are already writing.

 

Dick said as a reader, he would be looking for this section and would wonder if it were not there.

 

Emily suggested a cross reference, perhaps in a matrix, that says what species are discussed in what chapters.

 

Geoff noted that the acronym SCGN (for Species of Greatest Conservation Need) should be fixed.

 

Mariko corrected the reference in bullet one under considerations to say DeGraaf and Yamasaki (2001). She also asked that the spelling of Dick DeGraaf’s last name be corrected in the Further Reading section. In bullet three, she suggested changing “Some modification of forestry practices” to “Basic forestry practices”.

 

Jasen suggested that the last sentence in bullet 3 be deleted. This notion is mentioned in the issues section. Also, he asked that a sentence about the financial trade-offs involved in the modifications of forestry practices be added to the bullet.

 

In the same bullet, Mark asked about the meaning of “normal” forestry operations. Ken suggested the word “routine” as a possible substitute.

 

Jasen asked about the suggestion to not harvest. Since at a landscape level there is a lack of certain habitat types, shouldn’t we suggest looking at neighbors and what they are doing? Then landowners could set their goals accordingly.

 

Mariko acknowledged that this is true, but difficult to do.

 

Don asked whether there are there specific habitat types that we should focus on. Emily said that had been deleted from the initial chapter. Don asked whether we can expect to find a SSCN in any forest type. Emily said yes, it is possible.

 

Don asked whether we needed to add information about “takings”. She said we should mention the legal responsibility involved if a landowners knows they have a protected species. Emily clarified that the species must be document for there to be legal exposure.

 

Emily explained that federally listed species are covered by state law. She also had removed the language about potential take. Mark agreed that if there is risk to a landowner they should know about that risk. Emily agreed to look back at the language from the prior draft.

 

Draft Introductory Sections

 

How to Use this Manual “Required Reading”: Karen presented this section for a first review.

 

Emily referred to the second paragraph and said we should further caution against “cherry picking” recommendations from this document. Mark asked that we re-word the request asking local governments not to adopt practices into town ordinances. He suggested language such as “This document is not intended to be used as local ordinance or state regulation due to the conflicts inherent with many of the recommendations” or similar language.

 

Emily asked to move bullet five further up the list. Also, delete the word “nearly” from the first sentence, so it reads: It will be impossible to follow all the recommendations in the book.

 

Karen noted that the second bullet is a restatement of the first bullet. She asked which bullet the committee preferred.

 

Jasen asked her to further state that when recommendations mirror state law “it has been pointed out as such”, so landowners know that applicable regulations are stated in the document.

 

Karen responded that it is a different notion than what is currently stated. Perhaps she will have a different bullet to address this suggestion.

 

Mark said the bullets were redundant and the idea of landowner objectives and site conditions could be said once in the first bullet.

 

Emily agreed and added that it should also say that landowners need to develop objectives to help guide what happens on the ground.

 

Don said he would like to see stronger language such as “this document is objective driven. If you know your objectives go to those specific sections. If you don’t know your objectives, reviewing the entire document will help you form your objectives. It is impossible to follow all the recommendations.” Matt liked this direct language.

 

Don asked if any towns had tried to adopt GFGS recommendations as ordinances. Jasen knew of one attempt using the clearcutting chapter. The attempt failed. Geoff knew of an example using the heron rookeries chapter.

 

Dave reminded the group that we cannot prohibit towns or the state from trying to make regulation from this document. Emily said we need to state our intent that this not happen.

 

Geoff suggested explain why it is not a regulatory document. Forestry is in part a science. To apply it effectively, it requires professional judgment and experience. That is why it is not intended as a regulatory document.

 

Mark expressed concern that the general tone of the chapter was apologetic. There is not enough about what the document is for, but a lot on what it is not for. He suggest being direct about the purpose of the book. He also noted that many recommendations do not conflict with each other. We should be cautious about undermining the book.

 

In bullet one, Emily suggested changing “suggestions” to “recommendations”. She also suggested stating the top goal of the book: keeping forests and forests. Good Forestry is meant to help landowners and foresters ensure the long term economic and ecological viability of the resource. She also suggested adding water quality to the list of aspects that the document presents (last sentence in paragraph one).

 

Don asked about the second sentence in bullet three. He asked its purpose. Karen said she wanted to present the idea that we do not have all the answers. Bill suggested we make clear that we attempted to avoid areas where there is not consensus or there are major differences of opinions.

 

Don also felt that bullet four sounded apologetic. Karen said she deleted that language for easier reading and clearer recommendations.

 

Emily suggested rewording the bullet, saying we understand that you may not be able to implement the recommendation thoroughly in all cases. Mark suggested this language: “A given recommendation may not always be possible, practical or appropriate”. Don suggested making the last sentence of the bullet, concerning site conditions and landowner objectives, the first sentence.

 

Mark asked Karen what “absolute” means in the first bullet. Emily asked if she meant “mandatory”. Someone suggested that saying the recommendations are voluntary may be better language.

 

On the second page of the chapter, Mark asked that age class be added to the bullet referring to maintenance or creation of a healthy balance of forest size classes. Bob said this should not be worded in any way to suggest uneven-aged management as the best option. This is not practical.

 

Karen clarified that it refers to a statewide condition, not an individual property level.

 

Under meeting the needs of the human community, Mark suggested deleting the phrase “as a foundation for more value-added opportunities” in the second bullet. There is more than one reason to improve the quality of the timber resource.

 

Jasen asked to further qualify the first sentence by adding “to achieve the goals of the specific chapter” at the end of the sentence.

 

Don said that, except for those recommendations based in state law, the desired outcome is stated in each specific chapter’s objectives.

 

Jasen agreed but added that the additional language points out that objectives and recommendations are different and may sometimes conflict.

 

Jasen added that, while Good Forestry isn’t a regulatory document, we should mention that forestry is regulated by state and federal law. We should point people to resources for the existing regulations, such as The Guide to New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Laws and the BMP manuals.

 

Matt agreed that we should refer to the BMP guides because they are referenced frequently throughout the document.

 

Karen will make a revision to How to Use This Manual and will notify the group when this is done.

 

Public Review Period Starts September 1, 2009 and ends November 1

We plan to have the draft available to the public on the webwiki by close of business on September 1.

 

Bob asked about the steering committee schedule after September.

 

Karen explained that most chapters will be posted on the web site to begin public comment on September 1, 2009. She stressed again to Jasen that she would deal with as many NHTOA comments as possible prior to the public comment period. All NHTOA comments would be considered as part of the public comment process, not dismissed. Time was a factor here.

 

To meet revised deadlines, Karen explained that she had hoped for a one month public review process, maybe six weeks. However, the Forest Advisory Council suggested 2 months. Karen and Will Abbott are scheduled to meet with Northeast Utilities in mid-September. Hopefully, they will understand this change in the shcedule. We want to make sure that people have plenty of time to read and comment.

 

Bill Leak asked if three months would be possible. Karen said that while fall is a busy time of year, folks are always busy and three months may just cause people to procrastinate.

 

Mariko reiterated that landowner based objectives and site conditions are most important to this process. If a landowner has no idea where to begin, is this book meant to provide an approach to pick a recommendation here and there to satisfy broad resource goals, or should we say something more specific about people who don’t know where to begin. Karen agreed that we should tell people to call a professional to get started.

 

Karen also told the group that during the public comment period we can work on other things like cleaning up references and illustrations.

 

The original line illustrations are lost and Kristina is working with printing services at UNH to make high quality scans from the first edition.

 

Karen explained that as part of the grant we are required to have two public meetings during this stage of the project. One scheduled is scheduled at the GSD SAF meeting on September 18, 2009.

 

Jasen noted that is meeting is mainly foresters in need of CEUs. People have to pay to attend it. He questioned whether this satisfied the requirement of a public meeting.

 

Karen noted that is a stakeholder meeting and suggested that NHTOA help organize a meeting (s) for landowners and operators. She offered to work with Jasen to do this.

 

Jasen asked whether a landowner could come and sit in on the SAF meeting. Karen said they could come to that part of the meeting, free of charge. They should contact her.

 

Emily wanted to be certain that land trust, conservation organizations and conservation commissions get invited to whatever public meetings we schedule. Dick noted that the Association of Conservation Commissions has an annual meeting in November.

 

Mark said there is an important distinction between who should see the draft and those we need to understand and promote the final document. Land trusts might not provide a lot of feedback at the draft stage. Emily said that may be true, but they should know where we are in the process.

 

Bob suggested a presence at the Annual NH Tree Farm meeting on September 18.

 

Karen explained that her intent is to use the same public information plan as when we started the project: some press, some direct emailing, events and presentations.

 

Matt asked whether the public will have access to the web site. Yes. He suggested that at events, a poster announcing this access and a handout with directions might be the most appropriate communication.

 

Emily asked that once we develop a press release or other information, everyone on the committee should have a copy. The committee can also help publicize the process by informing their constituents as well.

 

Matt suggested handing out the purpose of the document chapter up front with the announcement of the public comment period. This may people frame their comments. They would know our intentions with the document.

 

Dick suggested getting to as many events as possible to spread the word

 

Organization of the Manual

 

Karen moved to discussing the chapter the Organization of the Manual. Most of this current chapter was taken from the first edition of Good Forestry.

 

Emily noted that we had agreed at a prior meeting to refer to literature cited and suggested reading as simply references.

 

Matt asked to change the word “principles” in the first sentence of the first paragraph to “topics.”

 

Mark asked the difference between what are sections and chapters. Karen explained that the book is divided into broad sections and within the sections are chapters that deal with a specific issue. We may change this organization.

 

In the issue statement, Mark suggested changing “item of concern” to “an important issue to forest management”.

 

In the objective statement, Jasen felt that “sustainable forest management activities” was too broad. Don suggested “specific sustainable forest management activities.”

 

Under recommended practices, Bob suggested that the last sentence be reworded to say, “When site conditions make it difficult or impractical to implement the practices, managers should explain to the landowners if/why they are making a divergence from the recommended practice.”

 

Referring to considerations section, Matt said that the considerations help the manager assess the site conditions and landowner objectives to determine if the recommended practices are appropriate.

 

Under recommended practices, Jasen asked that “to achieve the principles of sustainability” be changed to “to achieve the specific objective”. He felt that the former was too broad a statement.

 

Mark said that considerations explain how forestry practices intersect with what the chapter describes. Emily noted that some considerations are site issues. Geoff added that considerations are about understanding the trade-offs.

 

Jasen said that considerations are factors that affect the implementation of recommended practices and obtaining the stated objective.

 

Don said that while considerations discuss legal issues and where there is not scientific consensus, we need to define the purpose of the considerations clearly.

 

Emily suggested that the entire chapter should discuss the organization of the manual first, and then the organization of the sections and chapters.

 

Vernal Pools chapter

Matt presented a revised and paired-down revision of the vernal pool draft to NHTOA last week. He presented a draft to the steering committee that takes some of their comments into account. The general comment on the chapter was that it is very detailed and very intimidating. They asked why this chapter was so much longer than other chapters, and why is the format different. They asked to streamline the chapter further due to the amount of repetition.

 

NHTOA also felt that the draft had a negative tone towards timber harvesting. Matt tried to address that in the draft presented today.

 

Karen suggested that he add a statement that the different land uses around vernal pools makes a big difference in the quality of the pool habitat. In New England, pools are mostly in forested habitats which is a good land cover for them. The group agreed that this is a good idea.

 

Matt said that the NHTOA group asked that the notion that post-harvest affects on vernal pool species is temporary be more explicit. There was also a lot of concern about the number of citations. He will address this.

 

Emily felt that the current draft was too lenient and less restrictive than the first edition chapter. The idea of maintaining 50 feet of undisturbed area around the pool edge is not mentioned. She felt that there is enough documentation to support that the undisturbed edge is import. Other concepts, such as operating a sale in frozen or dry conditions and not driving machinery through the pool, were not here either.

 

Emily felt that at a minimum we recommend protecting the pools as breeding habitat.

 

Maintaining a buffer zone is referenced in the first edition, and Jessica Veysey’s research does support that it is a critical area.

 

Mariko noted that the machinery in pools issue addressed on page four under additional recommendations when vernal pools are a priority. Emily acknowledged this but said this should be a general recommendation. Matt agreed to move the bullet to general recommendations.

 

Emily said that the temperature issue is not addressed well in recommendations. We should at least put it out there to make it biologically sound.

 

Jasen noted that you can harvest trees around the pool and winch them out. There is no need to run machinery through the pool.

 

Emily said her major concern is that this version does not protect the pool basin enough. Jasen disagreed. He said that limiting timber removal is the first bullet under additional recommendations. Emily agreed that it was a recommendation but it is not an additional recommendation. It should be a general recommendation. Perhaps additional recommendations should apply to within 550 feet of vernal pools. The bullets for within 100 feet should all go to general recommendations. Otherwise, we are not asking landowners to protect this resource.

 

Bill thought the current draft affords protection for the resource while ackowledging landowner objectives

 

Matt noted that the original author requested to extend the recommendations within 100 feet to within 200 feet.

 

Matt also added that he could not think of a scenario where timber harvesting would be prescribed to improve the habitat for vernal pool amphibians. If that is so, and vernal pools are the main landowner objective, he feels recommendations should be strict.

 

Emily noted that there is a difference between canopy cover and shrub cover. We are not explaining this difference well enough. In the core habitat zone there should be light cutting, and 65% canopy cover maintained.

 

Matt asked if Emily was suggesting a no cut area. Emily said no. We need more specifics about remaining basal area or canopy cover and remaining vegetation.

 

Karen asked what was meant by “area” in the general recommendations’ referral to an “area known to contain vernal pools”.

 

Geoff said the entire issue statement has too many citations. This makes it difficult to understand the recommendations. We need to state the issue clearly and get some main concepts out to people so they understand the practices we are suggesting and why we are suggesting them.

 

Bob asked whether it would it be helpful to reference the law. Jasen said there really isn’t a law that deals specifically with vernal pools.

 

Ken asked Matt if the research supports the recommendations presented here. Matt said yes. Between 100 to 200 feet from the pool is juvenile staging habitat, shading, and sources of pool inputs. If the main objective is managing for vernal pool species, then the area around the pool should be as minimally impacted as possible. Outside of that area, frogs and salamanders are in cover, under leaf litter, etc. Increased exposure is a temporarily negative impact. It is temporary in that the site will recover as vegetation returns.

 

Dave liked this version and did not think it should be expanded. He suggested that we may want to state that activities within 25 or 50 feet around the pool should be most carefully considered.

 

Karen felt this draft is much improved, but many of the recommendations better stated in the first edition. The nested aproach is confusing.

 

Emily said she felt it is important for people to understand what they should do in different zones from the pool to the upland area. She asked if recommendations in the general category should be sorted into other recommendation sections, and the most general recommendations listed last.

 

Matt said the NHTOA suggested listing the general recommendations first.

 

Matt asked if the purpose of the chapter was how to manage vernal pools or how to conduct forestry around vernal pools. He felt either was acceptable.

 

Mark liked this draft better than the last. The impacts of forestry are all described but this could be simplified further. Not all impacts are due to poor timber harvesting. We can state that timber harvesting may impact vernal pools and associated habitats, but the effects can be minimized by good planning. Perhaps a bulleted list would be the clearest most concise way to present the potential impacts.

 

Mark also suggested deleting the last sentence before the objective statement.

 

Matt said he had received a specific request for that sentence. Karen agreed it was an important concept.

 

Mark suggested deleting the last words in bullet six under recommendations, “and merit protection.” He also suggested deleting the word “unfortunately” from bullet six.

 

He also suggested simplifying the last paragraph before the recommendations to a couple of sentences.

 

Matt explained that there is a request by the original author that the idea be included. Her research showed that working within 950 feet of a pool is significant. Although we do not have definitive information about what is going on that far out to make restrictive recommendations, we can provide the information so people may consider habitat out to 950 feet.

 

Mariko said the natural disturbance is a piece of the puzzle that we cannot forget or ignore. She added that there will be a decrease in amphibian observations immediately post-cut, but they will reemerge as shade and temperatures stabilize. Also, do we consider every pool as important as every other one? There should be some flexibility here. Also, we should define “rut” and its depth.

 

Referring to the second paragraph on page 2, Mariko asked about unnaturally high predation rates. The predation rate with no forest management is not zero.

 

Emily said that all commonly referenced state laws should be in an appendix.

 

Mariko also wanted to communicate the idea of time, place, and space. Productive pools change with the landscape. We do not have time sequence findings, and there is still a lot of uncertainty here. Is it the intent of the committee to consider vernal pools differently from other habitat conditions?

 

Matt said that predation is the least of the concerns for vernal pool species, and raising vernal pools to a wetland top priority is questionable. What happens around other wetlands as part of a wetland complex types is very important. There are still a lot of other questions out there and he wrote with the intention of expressing this for landowner consideration.

 

Matt then said he is getting many conflicting recommendations for this chapter. He needs clear direction from the committee on how to proceed.

 

Geoff said this version does not capture his concern about vernal pools or his enthusiasm to protect vernal pools. The first edition version is better at this. It needs to be specific about what to do and what not to do. For example, harvesting on frozen ground should be an important consideration. In the recommendation saying landings and haul roads should be located as far as possible from vernal pools, it should more directly say, “Locate landings and haul roads”. Karen said that is something she would fix as the editor. She cautioned the group not to spent time on rewriting details like that.

 

Don asked how DES regulated vernal pools.

 

Emily suggested that this chapter may be better suited to a habitat section, rather than water resources. It is a habitat. In that context, it may make the most sense. It is not a heavily regulated area. Placing it with water resources has brought it to a higher level of importance than other habitats. the group agreed and it will be moved.

 

Emily agreed that we need to capture more excitement in the introductory paragraphs of this chapter.

 

Bill asked whether were saying no whole-tree harvesting with the recommendation to “retain all existing downed woody material”. Matt said no, absolutely not.

 

Bill also asked Matt to refer to the references outside the region, check if they are really important and eliminate those that are not.

 

Regarding general recommendation eight, Karen asked who drops trees to create downed woody debris. It is done for stream restoration projects, for example. Geoff asked if we needed that recommendation. Matt had added it by request to address a concern of timber harvesters being asked to do additional activities. They have a cost.

 

Geoff asked that it be more clearly stated that the landowner sometimes has to pay for practices.

 

Don asked again whether DES regulates vernal pools. Emily said that DES is just starting to regulate. Jasen said the vernal pool rules are revised within the context of development.

Karen asked the group if we needed to get together during the public review period of September 1 – November 1, 2009. The group decided not to meet during this period.

 

Mariko asked how comments will be handled. Don said it is easier to review comments all at the same time, rather than piecemeal as they are collected.

 

Kristina and Karen will collect and categorize all comments, note the event or source (web, email, phone communication) where it comes from, and who the commenter is (forester, landowner, logger) if that information is known. Comments will be distributed before the November 10 meeting.

 

Two meetings are scheduled to review the comments and locations are to be announced:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 – 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

 

It was decided that technical teams will take the first crack at comments and big items will be brought back to the group for discussion.

 

Karen asked the committee to review their respective reference sections on the wiki and pass hard copy changes to Karen as soon as possible. Also, please review technical team membership and get back to Karen to make any necessary changes.

 

The meeting adjourned at 2:44 p.m.

Notes submitted by Kristina Ferrare

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