September 14, 2023
To: Corvallis Forest Stewardship Plan Update Task Force (CFSPUTF, or Task Force)
From: Peter Nelson, Task Force Member
Subject: Items to consider for September 27, 2023 meeting
I am submitting these comments and suggestions in advance of our regularly scheduled meeting on September 27, 2023, as I will be unable to attend either in-person or remotely.
I want to bring some concerns that I have that I believe need consideration by the Task Force.
The first concern relates to the way a new Task Force member was selected after a vacancy was created by Steve Rogers’ resignation. I believe that I am correct in that the existence of a vacancy was never advertised by public notice on the City’s website, by email to those who have subscribed to Task Force communications, or by other means. Thus, possible interested applicants would not have realized that the opening existed. Although the Task Force was informed of Steve Rogers’ resignation, it was never consulted for input regarding the vacancy. The Task Force has been meeting for around nine months and has developed a sense of its strengths and weaknesses regarding expertise and viewpoints for revising Corvallis Forest Stewardship Plan (CFSP). It should at least have been consulted regarding qualifications
desired for the vacancy. In my opinion, the manner in which the vacancy was dealt with and filled by City staff only increases the lack of confidence that the public has expressed regarding Task Force deliberations and decisions.
My second concern is the processes that we use to address public testimony. I suggest that oral testimony during meetings not be subjected to immediate analysis and commentary by Task Force members. We should simply listen and perhaps take notes, honoring the opinions of the public, and realizing the relevant expertise and experience of those testifying. We can subsequently address public comments as they relate to the agenda for that meeting, or we can address them at a later meeting, as per the following suggestion. I suggest that the Task Force and City staff create a specific agenda item for each meeting to address comments submitted at and subsequent to the previous meeting.
My third concern is the difficulty in navigating the CFSPUTF website to enable the public to find out the status of Task Force deliberations or the latest versions of the documents that are approved by the Task Force. As it stands, public citizens need to wade through the meeting packets provided to Task Force members that range from about 20 to maybe 80 pages to find pertinent information on Task Force deliberations. I suggest that an easily navigable summary be developed with highlights from each Task Force meeting. In addition, the latest version of the CFSP Update document should have its own section or link for easy and direct access by the public.
I feel that it is important that the Task Force take steps to become more transparent and accessible in its deliberations and actions. My suggestions are intended to help build public trust as the Task Force continues in its work of updating the CFSP.
Finally, as I see that the nomination of a new Chairperson is one item on the meeting agenda, I support Mark Harmon for that position.
Thank you for allowing my concerns to be addressed.