SFAC has been involved in emphasizing the importance of Social and Economic input into the NEPA process and the lack of such input into individual Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Environmental Analysis (EA). SFAC took steps to gain awareness of these deficiencies in documents in almost all past decisions in EIS and EA’s region wide. The following information will provide an overview of the work that SFAC has done as well as our continued work.
On February 26, 2015, SFAC in coordination with CSU Chico, Center for Economic Development will be holding a workshop on the relationship between our National Forests and our communities Social and Economic status. The following announcement provides the information for registering as well as the agenda for the day. This workshop is a result of SFAC working with CSU Chico and the Region 5 Forest Service Regional Office for over two years on bringing awareness to the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement to consider the Human Environment in all NEPA decisions. The results of these workshops will hopefully provide information and direction to Forest Planning staff to consider Social and Economic information in all NEPA documents, which is currently lacking or absent.
Social and Economic Sub Committee SFAC formed a working group to meet with Regional Office staff and staff from the California University at Chico State Economic Development group. The objective and purpose is to work with the Regional Office to gain recognition and support for developing guidance and direction to include Social and Economics in project level NEPA decisions. Currently, almost all agency project level work only addresses environmental issue and have ignored the requirement to consider and analyze the Human Element (S/E). If a Purpose and Need is developed for S/E and given proper analysis, then our Counties will finally be able to participate in the Objection process. Below are reports and correspondence to date on this effort. SFAC will be working with the FS Regional Office and CUCS in the development and coordination of S/E Round-tables to gain insights and information to further the development of this need.
Currently the SFAC is coordinating with CSU Chico Center for Economic Development with the participation of the Forest Service Regional Office staff to organize and facilitate Social and Economic roundtables. The proposal for these meetings as well as the latest notes from the most recent coordination meeting are:
Socioeconomic Advert First – Announcement and registration information
SFAC work with Region 5 and CSU Chico Center for Economic (CSU Chico CED)Development. The following information is the task from the recent MOU between Region 5 and CSU Chico CED as well as notes from the first meeting and criteria and initial community selection. The community level work is an agreement between SFAC and CSU Chico CED and funded by SFAC.
SFAC and CSU Chico Center For Economic Development (CSU Chico CED) have formed a partnership to develop survey protocol as well as select communities to be surveyed. The communities for the survey were chosen to match the communities developed for the Region 5 and CED community profiles and have been broken into similar geographic and social and economic patterns to collect the survey data and develop individual community reports. Four regions were developed: Northern Cascades, Northern Coastal, Central Sierra’s and Southern/Inyo. For each Forest within a region, four communities were selected to be surveyed. To provide a cross section of the various types of communities within each Forest and region, three community types were defined and used to differentiate for survey results. The three community types are; Forest-Focused, Forest-Peripheral and Regional Gateway. The following are the definitions given to each type.
Forest-focused communities are smaller, often geographically isolated communities where activities on forest lands are a major component of the local economy. Many of these communities are located far from major transportation routes, and some are known for their reputation as lumber towns.
Forest-peripheral communities are small to medium sized communities where activities on forest lands are a sizeable component of the local economy, but where other economic activities may play a larger
role in the community. These communities are often located along major transportation routes to outdoor destinations, are centers of local government and education, focus on tourism and recreation, or are close enough to larger metropolitan job markets in the Central Valley to function as mountain bedroom communities.
Regional gateway communities are medium to large sized communities where activities on forest lands do not represent a sizeable component of the local economy owing to the numerous other economic activities taking place in these communities. They often lie outside of National Forest boundaries but along major transportation routes into the National Forests, making them staging areas for recreational activities within and beyond forest lands. These communities also commonly function as regional centers for commerce, education, and healthcare for the foothill and mountain areas beyond them.
SFAC has funded CSU Chico CED to conduct the various community surveys and then work in partnership with Region 5 to analyze and assimilate the results into the individual community reports. CSU Chico CED is developing an inter-active web page that will provide a viewer or user to go into the individual regions and communities and view the regional as well as community level Social and Economic information. The whole region survey and final reports are anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2019. It is the desire to then hold community meetings in various regional locations to provide an overview and source material that is available to counties and communities as well as the US Forest Service to display more community level social and economic information. In addition, it is desirable for the partnership to provide training to all Region 5 NEPA planners and decision makers on where and how to use the information to begin a more complete analysis of the social and economics of individual projects as well as Forest Plan updates.