[MCN] The Forest Service is Paying Collaborative Partners!

Matthew Koehler mattykoehler at gmail.com
Tue Sep 22 10:00:10 EDT 2015

The Forest Service is Paying Collaborative Partners!


*The following article is written by Keith Hammer, Chair of the Swan View
Coalition in Montana. Hammer has shared his views on this blog blog before
<http://forestpolicypub.com/?s=Keith+Hammer&submit=Search> – including
raising red flags about some types of ‘collaboration’ in Montana (Link:


Imagine a world where you donate some time working on a Forest Service
project and the Forest Service pays you up to four times what that in-kind
donation is worth to continue working on it. This is the world Congress
created in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 as the
Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP).

The Southwest Crown Collaborative (SWCC) in the Swan-Clearwater-Blackfoot
area is one of the collaborative efforts being funded by CFLRP via the
Forest Service. Because the Act requires that the collaborative process be
“transparent and nonexclusive,” we asked and the SWCC agreed to list on its
web site its formal partners, their contributions to projects, and federal
contributions to those partners and projects.

In a nutshell, Congress through CFLRP will fund half of the costs of the
projects if the Forest Service and its partners fund the other half.
Partners need only provide one-fifth of the total project costs, often as
in-kind, non-cash donations of work. This minimum one-fifth contribution
then entitles the partner to receive federal funds to do work that
otherwise would be done by federal employees or under competitive contracts
with private businesses.

In a hypothetical example provided by the Forest Service and lodged on the
SWCC web site, a partner can consider $2,000 of its work expenses as a
non-cash contribution to a project. The Forest Service would pay the
partner $5,000 cash, which may include CFLRP funds, “to pay for the
partner’s salary, fuel for vehicles, and supplies toward the project.” *In
a real-life SWCC example, one non-profit has received $2.5 million in
federal funds for its non-cash, in-kind contributions of $903 thousand.*

While these funds on the one hand enable partners to do some monitoring and
watershed restoration work by repairing or decommissioning roads, it also
appears to silence public criticisms by partners of the more controversial
timber sales being conducted under the guise of “forest restoration.”
Moreover, some SWCC partners have collectively promoted “restoration”
logging and asked Congress to work with collaborators and not with
“organizations and individuals who oppose collaborative approaches to
forest management.” (Here

It is this type of bully behavior by partners that casts a long shadow over
the integrity of CFLRP, which at the 5-year/halfway mark is far ahead of
its logging quotas and far behind in decommissioning roads and controlling
the invasive weeds they bring to the forest. Citizens and scientists that
disagree for good reason with the notion that logging is “restoration” (see
page 4) deserve equal standing with collaborators being paid millions of
tax dollars by the Forest Service.

To see how over $7 million of your tax dollars have thus far been paid to
partners in the SWCC, visit:
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