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San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust
Nonprofit Organization 501(C)(3)
Tax ID # 33-0700417                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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'Corrdinated Front' Sought at Second Mountain Summit


Ideas for developing healthy forests - especially those located in San Bernardino and Riverside counties - was the focus of a meeting on August 17 at the University of Redlands. This event, a follow-up to an earlier 'Mountain Summit' held in June, was attended by 175 participants.

The three-day session brought together residents, business people and environmental and business experts, to discuss ways to make future changes and recommendations for a healthy forest. Although less attended than the August 17 meeting, participants broke into small groups to discuss some of the concerns raised during the June summit.

Of particular concern to San Bernardino County Fire Department Division Chief Thom Wellman, is whether or not something "concrete" can come from the forums, rather than simply discussing ideas.

He said he has heard criticisms from people who don't know where the process will end up because there are many governmental agencies and local groups doing different things in the mountains without coordination between the groups.

"Many groups are doing fuels reduction, the county, Forest Service and community members are taking down trees all over and there is no entity coordinating these events. We need some specific direction for the groups who are meeting here today - before they leave here," Wellman said.

He didn't get his wish.

San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman said, "Everything that is happening in the community adds to what the agencies are doing. There is a lot of vision in this room today. I believe it's good that government doesn't intervene in what people can do and some of the most powerful work is being done by the communities." He added that people with passion may "try some odd things to fix a problem but at least they're trying."

Wellman remained adamant in his point regarding leadership and/or coordination efforts, particularly now with the crisis of at least one million dead trees having been killed by a four-year drought and the accompanying bark beetle infestation. Wellman fears that if some organizational progress isn't made toward a "coordinated front," people who attend the summits will become disheartened and frustrated.

"My perception is that there's a huge public response to significant events but when people see progress being made their interest fades. Despite their intentions to stay actively involved, their enthusiasm wanes and they, more or less, disappear."

One group member said that she doesn't think the group will be able to take specific actions, per sé. "I view this as more of an informational group. We need to keep coming together to share our views. In our 'mountain' struggle we need to keep talking to people in other communities and hearing their thoughts. By the end of the small group time there was no consensus on whether or not a "lead" agency should serve as a coordinator for the agency/community efforts.

Other small groups tackled problems of communication, resources (including money, time, skills, volunteerism, in-kind assistance, working with non-profit groups, partnering and linking up business/forest needs) and keeping interest alive.

Some of the diverse groups who attended the summit follow-up meeting included representatives from mountain fire safe councils, the Forest Service, The Sierra Club, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and The San Bernardino Mountains Lands Trust.

Before the summit ended, everyone wrote his/her quick thoughts on the day's progress. The results focused on cooperation, persistent hope, excited, seize the opportunity, collaboration, progress, communication, tenacity, early-guarded optimism, "Yes We Can!" attitude, massive challenges, diligence and education. Each participant then put his or her card at the baseof a small seedling tree that was sitting in the middle of the room.