Forests and Fish: the Cooperative Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Committee Story

Jim Hotvedt, Adaptive Management Program Administrator

In the two previous installments of our Adaptive Management series, we provided the context and history for the Forests and Fish Report and the development of the Forest Practices Adaptive Management Program. This month, we continue the series with the role of the Cooperative Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Committee.

When the Timber Fish and Wildlife Agreement was negotiated in 1987, there was a great deal of scientific uncertainty about some of the recommended forest practices. To deal with the uncertainty, the Forest Practices Board established the Cooperative Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Committee (CMER) and charged the committee with using best available science to address scientific questions, conduct research; and monitor forest practices. From 1988 to 1997 CMER implemented the monitoring, evaluation, and research goals of the Timber Fish and Wildlife Agreement and submitted reports to the Forest Practices Board recommending actions for improving forest practices. From 1997 until today, CMER has focused on the goals and recommendations of the 1999 Forests and Fish Report (Schedule-L).

CMER LogoThe role of CMER is to advance the science related to forestry, fish, and wildlife and to “…provide science-based recommendations and technical information…” that will assist the Forest Practices Board in adjusting the State’s forestry rules and guidance (WAC 222-12-045).

The committee is made up of members with scientific expertise in the disciplines of forestry, fisheries, wildlife biology, and landscape processes. Members represent timber landowners, environmental interests, state agencies, county governments, federal agencies, tribal governments.

Currently, CMER is supported by four active scientific advisory groups: Landscape-Wildlife, Riparian, Wetlands, and Eastside. A fifth advisory group (Upland Processes) is currently inactive. The purpose of the advisory groups is to design and implement research and monitoring projects as prioritized by CMER, with each group focusing on specific aspects of the forest practices rules.

In addition to conducting research, CMER is charged with providing technical information and consensus-based recommendations to the Timber Fish and Wildlife Policy Committee and the Board. It maintains a comprehensive work plan of research and monitoring projects; recommends research priorities and spending requests; establishes research protocols and standards; and analyzes project results. Results are summarized in periodic reports to the Board. These reports are published on the CMER web site.

A CMER project is defined as a research or monitoring study or task resulting in a report or product. The typical project undergoes scoping to clarify the purpose and objectives of the study, reviews existing literature, develops a study design and implementation plan, collects field data, performs data analysis, and develops a final report. The 2015 fiscal year work plan consists of over 90 projects covering a range of topics related to the forest practices rules, in addition to the status of each project.

Project examples include:

  • Riparian management zone prescription effectiveness in protecting and maintaining shade and water temperature in Eastern Washington (complete).
  • Mass wasting effectiveness monitoring project: an examination of the landslide response to the December 2007 storm in southwestern Washington (complete).
  • Eastern Washington riparian assessment (ongoing).
  • Riparian hardwood conversion (ongoing).

The Forest Practices Adaptive Management Program would not be successful without the cooperation of forest landowners. Not only do forest landowners provide representation on the TFW Policy Committee and scientists to participate in CMER, they also provide study sites (land) for the many field projects undertaken by the program.

Next Issue: The Adaptive Management Policy Committee