In the spring of 2012 the CBC, through their Monitoring Advisory Committee (MAC) and their fiscal partner, the Clearwater Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D), advertised a request for proposals for the development of a baseline assessment. The purpose of the baseline assessment was to 1) gather information and evaluate the existing monitoring programs occurring on the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests, 2) to provide a snapshot of the current ecological condition within the Selway Middle Fork CFLRP project landscape, and 3) to assist the MAC in developing national indicators and outcomes using SIMPPLLE to model historic range of variability. Ecosystem Research Group was awarded the contract and work on the baseline assessment officially began in October of 2012.
In December of 2012, several members of the CBC met with Forest Service and Ecosystem Research Group staff to discuss the various CBC-sponsored projects in an effort to reduce redundant data requests from the Forest Service and other partners as well as to identify any economies of scale that could be taken advantage of by combining resources. As a result of this meeting, both the CBC and the Forest Service recognized that the ongoing baseline assessment paralleled efforts currently occurring as part of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests’ Plan Revision process. Specifically, both projects were using SIMPPLLE modeling as a tool in the development of desired future conditions.
Over the next few weeks, the CBC and the RC&D worked with the Forest Service to develop a modification to Ecosystem Research Group’s contract that would include the facilitation of collaborative meetings that would calibrate the SIMPPLLE model to the specific conditions on the Nez Perce – Clearwater National Forests1, provide the computing power and expertise to run numerous iterations of the model to test the logic pathways, and interpret the results in a final report to the CBC. While the contract was sponsored by the CBC and the RC&D, all data and information developed as part of the project was to be readily shared with the Forest Service participants at both the Forest and Regional levels.
The team slated to work on the SIMPPLLE model calibration project met 11 times starting on January 29th and wrapping up on March 26th, 2013. Three species crosswalk meetings were held in order to translate VMAP data into SIMPPLLE’s required attributes. The eight calibration meetings that followed included a review of the model’s logic, highlighting areas that needed to be adjusted, making adjustments, reviewing test simulations, and reconvening. The result of this collaborative process was a SIMPPLLE model tailored to the unique ecological processes in the Selway Middle Fork CFLRP project area that could be used directly by the CBC to establish targets and indicators and fulfill the project’s national reporting requirements. Furthermore, the Forest Plan Revision Team could use the newly calibrated model for the development of outputs within a large portion of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, but also could use the collaborative process as a platform for replication across the remaining Forest landscapes.
The SIMPPLLE modeling and associated contracts covered the development of the ecological outcomes and indicators including fire regime restoration, fish and wildlife habitat condition, watershed condition, and invasive species. As a parallel process the CBC and the Forest Service worked on the remaining social and economic outcomes, indicators, and targets internally. As directed, the Jobs/Economic Indicator is based on the TREAT model and run by the Northern Region office. The CBC, through the MAC, is currently working with Northern Region staff on validating the model as well as supplementing this data with qualitative information that helps tell the complete story of the impacts of the CFLRP project within the Clearwater Basin. The Northern Region is also providing the inputs and outputs for the Fire Costs Indicator using R-CAT. At the Forest level, the Selway Middle Fork CFLRP Project Coordinator tracks all of the leveraged funds contributed to the restoration project and reports this information annually. Finally, the Evaluation Tool Regarding Collaboration provided in the July 2011 CFLRP National Outcomes & Indicators Process and Proposal was used to gauge active CBC participants’ responses on the transparency and openness of the Collaborative in general.