Liaison Panel Meeting

Bankhead Liaison Panel

Meeting Notes

June 14, 2001

Moulton, AL

The meeting was opened with a welcome by Glen Gaines.

Agenda Items:

Bankhead Forest Health and Restoration – Glen presented a Geographic Information System (GIS) map which displayed the preliminary forest health analysis of the pine and the mixed pine and hardwood stands on the Bankhead. Information for this map was derived from the aerial photos taken this spring combined with existing stand information. Those areas impacted by Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) were overlaid on the map and marked by cross-hatching. The existing pine stands consist of about 67,000 acres of loblolly pine, 1800 acres of longleaf pine and 6300 acres of shortleaf and Virginia pine. Of these, about 30,000 (actual estimates are now closer to 20,000 acres) acres have been impacted by SPB and will be the areas considered for treatment, except those in the Sipsey Wilderness and Special Areas, such as Indian Tomb Hollow, RARE II and proposed Botanical Areas. The information represented by this map is being used to help narrow the focus of the initial project proposal which will be published as a Notice of Intent in September, 2001 (date now moved to January 2002).

The desired conditions based on forest health and restoration may be achieved by thinning, both commercial and precommercial, and reforestation. Only those impacted areas of 10 acres or more will be considered for either natural or artificial reforestation. Fuel loading will also be a considered in treatment plans. Implementation of projects included in the Forest Health and Restoration EIS must be accomplished within five years after the decision is signed.

Questions were asked about public involvement in the National Forests in Alabama Steering Committee and Bankhead EIS. Glen explained that the Steering Committee is Forest Service personnel only, and the purpose of this committee is to provide oversight and coordination among the districts, making sure that the proposed actions are in concert with the revised Forest Plan. There will be some Bankhead EIS team working meetings that will be open to the public. The Bankhead mailing list will be used to notify the public of these meetings.

Resource Advisory Committee – Glen distributed a list of 37 nominees for the committee, which will be a self-governing committee that makes recommendations for projects to be funded under Title II of the payments to counties. The committee can only have 15 members, and Glen asked the attendees for guidelines to help him in making recommendations for the15 members. The Liaison Panel and attending public suggested the following guidelines:

  • Choice may be based on qualifications of past activities and involvement with the Bankhead RD.
  • Choice may be based on experience in other advisory capacities which had no personal impact.
  • Preference given to Lawrence and Winston County residents and/or property owners.
  • Preference may be given to those involved in community activities in Winston and Lawrence counties.
  • Consideration given to education and professional experience related to natural resources.
  • Mixed balance of community interests.

SPB and Mechanical Fuel Treatment Update – Glen displayed a map of the planned SPB and mechanical fuel treatment areas. Biological and archaeological surveys and reports will be completed prior to implementation of the treatments. Priority was given to areas adjacent to private property and to those posing a threat to public safety along roads and in recreation areas when these treatment areas were selected. The two types of treatment that will be utilized are a Magnum Mulcher, and a crew with chainsaws who will cut the designated standing dead trees, which will then be chipped on site. This project will be funded by fuels funds and some road maintenance funds.

A question was asked regarding the use of SPB funds rather than road funds. SPB funds can only be used for treatment in areas where beetles are currently active. Also, the trees in these fuels treatment areas have no commercial value and would not be able to be sold. There is an area behind Fairview Work Center along Winston County Rd 89 where the Magnum Mulcher was demonstrated.

Mike Cook announced that he had maps of the proposed Fiscal Year 2002 prescribed burning areas if anyone was interested in viewing them and commenting on them.

Questions were asked regarding the regarding the status of the National Heritage Area. Glen explained that this program is administered by the National Park Service and also explained what the program consisted of. The areas are designated by congress. The voluntary program is centered on developing partnerships with private organizations and local governments in protecting, improving, and promoting historical/cultural property. The Forest Service feels the best avenue for making decisions on the Bankhead and providing public involvement in those decisions is thru the forest plan revision process.

The next meeting will be Thursday, September 6, 2001 (moved to November due to impacts from western fire details) at 7:00 am in Double Springs.