Collaborative adaptive management in Sierra Nevada forests: Perspectives of sponsoring agencies
Planning for this major adaptive management project was initiated in 2005 following USDA Forest Service (USFS) adoption of the 2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (SNFPA), which was controversial for stakeholders and agencies. Sponsoring agencies, including USFS, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and California Resources Agency, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate and engage the University of California to develop an adaptive management project within the framework of the SNFPA. The Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), initiated in 2007, was a collaborative effort involving sponsoring agencies, public stakeholders, and university researchers intended to test the effectiveness of fuel treatments in this landscape. Fuel treatments were implemented by the USFS at sites on the Tahoe and Sierra National Forests in 2011-2012 following several years of pre-treatment monitoring by university researchers. Monitoring focused on fire and forest health, spatial structure, Pacific fisher, California spotted owls, water quality and quantity, and public participation (stakeholders). Initial post-treatment monitoring is complete. The objective of this presentation is to discuss to collaborative process from the perspective of the sponsoring agencies and the value of science from the study to resource management.
Achieving mutual understanding of priorities for individual sponsoring agencies was necessary for collaborative adaptive management. Another challenge was funding of both implementation and monitoring within agency constraints. Total funding for monitoring was over $15 million, with USFS contributing over $10 million, California Department of Water Resources nearly $2 million, and other agencies and a private foundation contributing smaller amounts; the University of California contributed $2.5 million in salary and waived overhead. The recession that began in 2008 limited the financial contribution of some agencies and delayed treatments because markets for forest products were weak.
In addition to scientific results presented in other papers in this session, the sponsoring agencies have learned significant new things that are contributing to resource management. Some learning has been unexpected; for example, new information about Pacific fisher biology and causes of mortality is influencing conservation of this species. Although analysis of spatial LiDAR data was originally intended primarily to support other research, this work has led to recommendations on the use of LiDAR for management. Although expensive, SNAMP has paid off in terms of both adaptive management and the benefits of collaboration among agencies and stakeholders.