Liaison Panel Meeting

Bankhead National Forest

Liaison Panel

Meeting Notes & Recommendations

June 29, 2000

Panel Members Present

Randall LouAllen, Lawrence Co. Commissioner

Quinton Humphries, Winston Co. Commissioner

Bob Keefe, Forester - International Paper

Dudley White, Wildlife Biologist – Alabama Dept. of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Lamar Marshall, Exec. Director – Wild Alabama

Greg Preston, Bankhead Cultural and Historical Society

Bill Snoddy, Alabama Treasure Forest Landowner

Mary Lee Ratliff, Trail User

Colin Bagwell, Consulting Forester

Gene Gold, Blue Clan, Echota Cherokee

A total of 35 people were in attendance. Glen Gaines facilitated the meeting.


The panel agreed to a variation in the scheduled agenda. It was agree to spend the first hour of the meeting discussing some meeting rules, procedures for making decisions and consideration of new member applicants. The last hour would be spent on the Southern Pine Beetle suppression program.

Role of the Panel

The panel provides opportunity for a diverse cross section of different public interests to consider, discuss, and make recommendations to the Forest Service on how the Bankhead could be managed. Members of the panel are not meant to speak for all persons or organizations in their areas of interest. The Forest Service will consider recommendations from the panel when developing and proposing projects/direction. The panel is not a decision-making body. The Forest Service will continue it’s decision-making process, open for all individuals to voice ideas and concerns.

Meeting Rules/Participant Conduct

The panel will follow the following general rules of conduct.

  • No interruptions – The facilitator will recognize who has the floor to speak
  • Respect other panel members and public participants opinions and position on issues
  • Do not get personnel when disagreeing or when making a point
  • Maintain positive atmosphere
  • Be open to change or comprise – be willing to listen - don’t be entrenched in a position
  • Stay focused on the present and future
  • No “grandstanding” – be brief and to the point
  • Stay on time


Operating Procedures

A process for reaching consensus and making panel decisions was discussed. Carla Lee, Wild Alabama, submitted a systematic method for measuring panel consensus. The panel discussed the process and agreed it had promise and agreed to try it.

Panel members can show their level of support for a topic by voting (holding up fingers):

5 - Strongly support the decision

4 - Support the decision

3 - Decision is OK

2 – Uncomfortable with the decision, but can live with it

1 – Dislike the decision, but, deferring to the wisdom of the panel, will not sabotage

0 (closed fist) – Veto decision, requires further discussion

If 75% of the total possible votes are cast (without a veto), then the panel has reached consensus. For the Bankhead Panel, there are 75 possible votes (15 members with maximum of 5 votes each). If a total of 56 votes or more are cast (without a veto), then the panel has reached consensus.

The process is as follows:

I. An issue or proposal is presented to the panel for their consideration. The issue will be presented to the panel at least one meeting in advance prior to the issue being discussed. Further presentation of the topic may be provided during the meeting the topic is to be considered by the panel.

II. A “sense of the panel” is determined by taking a preliminary vote on the issue/proposal. If consensus is reached at this time or there appears to be overwhelming support for a topic, then the panel can move directly to formulating a formal recommendation or support. If it is apparent the preliminary vote is short of consensus, then further discussion will be required.

III. Discussion of the proposal includes voicing concerns, identifying ways concerns could be addressed, editing the proposal, and drafting a recommendation. During the drafting of the recommendation, test votes can take place to measure progress.

IV. The panel takes a final vote.

V. A panel recommendation is submitted to the District Ranger, Bankhead NF, if 75% of the possible votes (without a veto) are cast. A panel report is submitted to the District Ranger, if consensus cannot be reached. This report would summarize the problems the panel encountered.

Consideration of New Members

The panel agreed (without vote) to add the following persons to the panel:

Lori Wilson, Wildlife Biologist – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Randy Feltman, Local Timber Operators and Sawmills

Charles Borden, Landowner and Bankhead User

Myra Bryant, Alabama Conservation and Multiple Users Association

Margaret Dunn, Cherokee of Northeast Alabama

Issue 1. Forest Health Initiative

Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) Suppression Program. The BNF is experiencing an epidemic outbreak of SPB resulting in significant acreage of loblolly pine mortality and dead/downed trees. In the past 2 years, over 400 SPB infestations have occurred. This FY2000 an additional 150 new spots have occurred. An emergency has been declared for the BNF. These infestations have been treated with (1) “modified” cut and removal techniques, (2) “modified” cut and leave techniques, or (3) monitor with no action taken. The implementation of the SPB program is complex due to considerations for cultural and historic districts, environmentally sensitive areas, and maternity/roosting habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat. The BNFs SPB program is tiered to a programmatic EA/Decision Notice signed in 1996 and the recent Indiana and Gray Bat Biological Opinion rendered in 2000.

Panel Recommendation

The panel reached overwhelming consensus (70 out of 75 possible points) for the Bankhead SPB suppression effort.

The BNF will continue to implement the SPB program as in the past. For the current situation, the Forest Service should aggressively seek additional emergency funding and employ an incident team, with the needed detailers, to effectively control the SPB epidemic. BNF staff, detailers, and employee hires from the private sector will be working 6-7 days per week to suppress SPB.

The suppression process consists of 5 steps:

·        Spot Location

·        Spot Evaluation

·        Assignment of Control Method (i.e. cut/remove, cut/leave, monitor)

·        Spot Treatment

·        Monitor Effectiveness

The cut and remove (C/R) method of control is the most effective means of SPB control and will be used on approximately 65% of the BNF land area proposed to emphasize restoration and recreation. Limited use of the C/R method may be necessary in the Sipsey Wild and Scenic River corridor or the Cultural/Historic Districts if SPB is threatening private pine stands.

The cut and leave (C/L) method will be utilized mainly on SPB spots that are not feasible to access for C/R, spots in which the trees are not merchantable, or spots in the proposed Flint Creek Botanical Area.

Spots in the Sipsey Wilderness, the Sipsey Wild and Scenic River corridor, the Chief’s Roadless moratorium areas, and spots not threatening private lands in the Cultural/Historic Districts will be monitored. Spots in these areas are subject to treatment if they pose a threat to private property, threaten a high value resource on the forest, or become a safety hazard to the public. Local organizations (Bankhead Cultural and Historic Society and the Blue Clan, Echota Cherokee) will be consulted prior to taking action in the cultural/historic districts.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the panel will be Thursday, July 20, at 7:00 pm. The meeting location will be the Traders and Farmers Bank Downstairs Meeting Room in Double Springs, Alabama.

Business for the next meeting will include discussion of:

1. Forest Health Initiative – District-wide Loblolly Thinning Program

2. Owl Creek Horse Camp Improvements