An Open Letter:
[It was noted on Dec. 7, 2012 that both Congressmen are unlikely to be able to meet with me before the installation of the new administration and that I should try again later when things have quieted down a little. In the past I have been critical of the use of Federal monies for forest treatments because of the failure to follow through enough to produce a useable product. This has changed for me as my study of the financial situation has progressed. ]
Congressman Olver and I have had discussions of the urgency for more appropriate activity to address renewable energy and the climate crisis locally but unfortunately those things have only grudgingly begun to happen. The widespread discussion of the World Bank report (I've heard it mentioned twice on NPR recently) documenting the likelihood of at least a global average 4 degree C rise in temperature by 2100 should provide the basis for much broader discussion and a thorough review of what our responsibilities are to do things differently here in our own neighborhoods. I will copy this message to Congressman McGovern, but I would appreciate an opportunity to sit down with both Congressman Olver and Congressman McGovern before Congressman Olver retires. The appended summary of my impressions of a recent [USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service ] NRCS Technical Steering Committee meeting in Amherst is a very limited attempt to begin searching for a way to begin this dialogue. There are many things that I left out - not included is the on going discussion that the State Conservationist and I have had about how essential consistent sovereign funding of life support is to any proactive measure today and the absolute bankruptcy that long term ecosystem maintenance faces as the private banking sector refuses to provide any funding to individuals or entities that do not have discretionary income sufficient to carry the regular debt service now required for a performing loan - regardless of the unmonetized flow of goods to the public that may accompany such proactivity.
(IT SHOULD BE POINTED OUT THAT THE FEDERAL LOAN PROGRAMS ARE ESSENTIALLY PRIVATE BANKING SYSTEMS BECAUSE THEY ARE STILL BASED ON THE "NORMAL" PERFORMING LOAN CRITERIA OF THE CURRENT PRIVATE BANKING SYSTEM.)
My work on forest land owned ... [in this area].. has provided me a clear set of data regarding what can happen with and without the necessary funding for the kinds of proactive measures that are needed to keep the Congressman's personal property healthy and productive. IN A NUTSHELL I HAVE FAILED TO BE THE STEWARD THAT THE PROPERTY COULD JUSTIFY [because of my inability to develop funding for the appropriate practices. Basically one can not 'mine' your way out of an unproductive situation given the situation today.] IF OUR SOCIETY COULD UNDERSTAND ALL THE THINGS THAT [effective "proactive" management could facilitate, we would already have funding systems in place that would ensure that] THAT LAND WERE ABLE TO PROVIDE [these things forever] BOTH GLOBALLY AND LOCALLY. It is clear to me that we now must state [CLEARLY and] unequivocally that the ecosystem services of this land are an essential component of saving the existing life support system and that we do not have very much time to get it right. [Owners of this kind of land must be able to act proactively as a matter of right on an as needed basis with the only requirement being that they tell their neighbors what they are doing and what happened if they are asked.] Ms. Clarke has agreed to seek out those who are familiar with carbon negative systems within the regional USDA NRCS system. Congressman Olver was a speaker at the last (2009) UMASS Biochar Symposium where David Laird of the USDA Ag. Research Service was also featured. Unfortunately the things that Dr. Laird presented there are still not available in the local information that is being distributed in the prime mission areas of the MA NRCS outreach. These areas include water pollution control and soil health. It is clear that there are some issues [that need to be dealt with] in both the mission of the sovereign entities (the NRCS being only one of many) and the information flowing from various research entities. (For instance, it appears likely that the char that [Dr.] Larid used was formed in a process that collapsed the structure [of the char] more than is desirable for best [a better word would have been "enhanced"] agricultural performance - it [the char] is still a good carbon sequestration vehicle regardless of the agricultural benefits.) We can state with certainty that if the World Bank message is understood that even the most negative analysis of the use of carbon negative systems that involve local charcoal production and placement of it in its modified form as biochar can not detract from the long term carbon sequestration that only charcoal and biochar offer. This facet of local charcoal production and use are of no [applicability or] utility in the current practice ranking system of the NRCS. There are many parts of the essence of "conserving" that are missing from the NRCS interpretation of "Conservation". We need to rebuild the rural infrastructure [something that has been consciously destroyed by profit seeking industies] so that those who choose to reside in these areas and do so in a low energy life style (the essence of conservation) can do so without fear of being dispossessed. The formation of a sovereign "INFRASTRUCTURE BANKING SYSTEM" is the only alternative that I have found that has a chance of providing the basis of proactive effort that I believe is now needed. Please let me know how and where to meet interested parties so that this dialogue can begin or be stopped at an appropriate point.
Alan C. Page, Ph.D., Research Forester - MA License #184--------------
[This is a part of a summary offered too the local Natural Resource Conservation Service - NRCS group last Tuesday.] The term "Conservation" is an appropriate term to be used in the NRCS name, but I don't think that it is being interpreted correctly by the current administration. The failure to recognize the impending disaster that climate change presents is part of the same problem. If we can not conserve what we now have there will be nothing to worry about after the temperature has risen 4 degrees [C] as the World Bank has predicted or 11 degrees [C] as other bodies have suggested is likely with the business as usual scenario. I will try to distill the comments that we spent time with [in]to something that most people can grasp.
Biochar application evaluation system:
There are several alternatives that I am aware of for the appraisal of the utility of particular mixes of char and compost or other nutrient sources for particular soil areas. It is probably appropriate to expect to use different amounts of char mix and different application systems in different areas. Of particular concern is the condition of perched water tables or areas of poor drainage since char can provide drainage if a deep channel can be opened in a few places. [There is much more that must be included even in this limited area of discussion for a coherent coverage of the potential for enhanced soil performance with biochar inclusion. Suffice to say that there are many areas where biochar use can provide long term benefit that are not well documented at this time. Check out the biochar section of the Forest Management Tools document at Common Good Forestry]
Forest systems as part of the conservation program:
As public perception of the reality of the risks that [increasing] storm strength [presents] and [the] ameliorative opportunities [that] are needed [evolves], [proactive] forest activity should become more attractive to young people. The current piecemeal approach [offered by the USDA NRCS] is appropriate for entry level participants. [But it is basically a waste of a significant portion of the funds allocated because of the repetitive overhead and inconsistent application of funds to projects that require long term follow through for significant value development.] It is possible that the same kind of analysis program as proposed for biochar could be developed for forests. When and if that is possible the uncertainty of funding must also be rectified. The current [system of funding forest] pruning and thinning is almost useless if it is used in a system like I do but the timing [of follow up treatments] is missed. I will follow this with Mr. Wight.
Thanks again for the chance to try to figure out how these things can fit together.
Alan C. Page, Ph.D.