Began with a meshing of minds between a receptive resource group and a visionary entrepreneur… Pagosa Ranger District/San Juan National Forest ….. and JR Ford Other driving factors: -lack/continued loss of timber-processing industry; -downturn in economy; urgent removal needs elsewhere; -tightening budgets (e.g., big decline in fuels-treatment funding); -backlog of treatment needs (loss of credibility with publics..?). [not all negative…] -recognition by publics of need to treat (esp. WUI); -willingness to accept/support mechanical treatments.
Pagosa RD staff conducted evaluation of: -potential, & NEPA-complete, treatable acres; -associated available biomass product; -administrative capability to fulfill potential contract obligations; and -estimated costs and revenues (i.e., services & goods) resulting from contract treatments. -and then we did the demo -test our assumptions (volume, production, costs); -thinning across multiple cover types, veg structure, ground conditions; -solicited on fed.biz.ops; -included third-party monitoring of effects; & -invited all to see and comment.
untreated – warm-dry mixed conifer (i.e., ponderosa pine overstory over white fir/Douglas-fir midstory/understory)
treated – whole-tree removal (boles, tops, branches/foliage) [DxD white fir & aspen, cut-tree ITM of DF, PP]; resulting activity fuels ~ 3-4 tons/acre – its ready to Rx burn!
PALTSC – building the contract Contract proposal to Regional Forester; authorized June/2010 Key objectives: – fuels reduction, forest restoration, forest health Shelf stock (NEPA complete) -- ~ 7 years* [*some with whole-tree utilization; some w/o, needing NEPA review] Areas to treat -- mostly lower-elevation, condition class 3 forests, in WUI, w/ CWPPs in place; 50-mile working circle – potentially 60,000 acres (roaded, < 35%); Key service work (thinning) cost tied to green-ton basis (not per acre);
PALTSC – building the contract (continued) Simplified the number of bid items, while incorporating the following: – typical tasks, associated with mechanical treatments, included within the thinning service-work activities (e.g., during/post-use road maintenance, erosion control, slash disposal, felling/treatment of damaged trees); – three haul ranges; – four broad forest cover types; – weighted average calculations for service-work thinning and product removal, coupled with 100% weight scale – three product types – sawtimber, poles (POL), & miscellaneous biomass (tops, limbs, foliage); – bids on typical pre-use road maintenance items (only 7 system road activities; 5 temporary road activities); remainder of potential items became cost allowances where FS set prices. Other Strategies/Needs: use designation-by-description; good weight-factor data; one-entry approach; provide minimum tonnage per acre; requested sawtimber specs begin at 10.0 dbh.
Feedback from solicitation Prospective Contractors liked: – simplicity of contract; – green-ton basis; – use of weighted averages (given good weight factors & cruise data) & 100% weight scale; – multiple show-me-trip days. They didnt like, or struggled with: – dealing with full range of resulting timber product; – relatively quick due date on proposals; – potential concern of change in silvi Rx (i.e., available product).
The Contract awarded 6/4/12 (contract program year differs from FS fiscal year); negotiated a 3-year rolling average tied to FS commitment of 32,500 green tons per year; includes a minimum size for Task Orders (given high cost of mobilization); flexibility on part of FS and Contractor is very advantageous! – for example, revising priorities for Task Order completion
Lessons learned… the demo helped: – much greater tonnage obtained than we (FS) thought; – treatment of very small trees, shrubs requires different equip; – followup Rx burning will be much easier/less expensive to do. plan pre-thinning work: road maintenance (or reconstruction); weed treatment visit other, similar contracts – we looked at White Mtn, Front Range: – simple is better (for both agency and Contractors); – get support on your unit & maintain that support; – hear from the Contractors, as well as Agency personnel. engage with all interested parties: – concurrent w/ contract efforts, we co-sponsored a forest conference, which led to establishment of Upper San Juan Mixed Conifer Working Group; – get to the field – its the best place to debate forest management; – be honest, and visualize the big picture.