April 28, 2009

In the world of landslides, there is something like a secret underground of meetings and groups. Technically, I think these groups are open to whomever wants to go. So, here is the tangled web of groups and subgroups. First off, Cooperative Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (CMER), which is hard to explain everything they do, but basically a research and policy type group that uses science to improve the management of Washington State Lands. A subset of that group, which mostly deals with landslides (and policy), is UPSAG (Upland Processes Scientific Advisory Group). It is full of government, environmental, and private (timber companies mostly) people, which makes the conversations entertaining. The part that I like best about the group is most of the people there use science as their talking points on where focus should be steered. Probably some of the most interesting science studies I have seen come out of the meeting is from Weyerhaeuser, which is led by Ted Turner. I wouldn’t say I am a industry supporter, but I am not anti-industry, I try and base my opinions and thoughts on what science points to and look at the risks we take in our management.
Another subgroup, which is part of CMER, is the TAG (Technical Advisory Group), which if I understand it right, is a group that advices projects funded or supported by CMER. Yesterday, I attended a TAG meeting on a project known as the LHZ (Landslide Hazard Zonation) Project. The LHZ project is how I got started at DNR, when I came aboard about November 2004. It was a mixed bag, we were pressed hard to perform and two of us on the group consistently worked 60-80 hour weeks to meet the deadlines. Others who didn’t were pressured even harder to get products out quicker. The good part, I learned more than I ever thought I would about landslides and forestry. It culminated in a talk I gave at a CMER Science Meeting (watch me here). A lot of the talking points at the TAG meeting were the same issues when I was aboard the project, which reminds me of how some things never change. I have a lot of faith in the LHZ project, I think if it was used correctly, it would improve the management of our forests. Unfortunately, talking to some of the foresters out there, sometimes they don’t know the product exists and when they do, they are not aware of how to use it. Sometimes I think managing land should be the same as the Growth Management Act (GMA) or Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO), one must use best available science to help best manage where growth should occur. Luckily, that is what UPSAG strives to do, but I don’t think it is mandatory, yet.