FORT BRAGG, 11/14/23 — The Jackson Demonstration State Forest advisory group (JAG) has a new facilitator who intends to follow standard meeting procedures. Emily Smith, a 26-year veteran with Cal Fire, will facilitate Wednesday as the JAG meets at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Bragg at 9 a.m. After a chaotic meeting in September that lasted all day but got nothing accomplished on the agenda, this time the meeting will follow standard protocols, Smith said.
People will be asked to speak only once until others have taken their turns, come to the front of the room, and every comment will be timed.
Previous facilitator, Kim Rodrigues, resigned in protest before the September meeting, saying Cal Fire was not following its stated purpose of listening and engaging and was in a rush to get things done. Smith said that while she is the facilitator for the November meeting, the state agency is seeking to hire a full-time facilitator in 2024. Here’s the full agenda.
Smith has worked in Fire Suppression, Pre Fire Engineering/Fuels Management, Public Information Officer on Cal Fire Incident Management Team #1 and recently was the Deputy Chief of Communications for Cal Fire out of Sacramento. Her new title is Deputy Chief, providing leadership to JDSF.
“I grew up in Mendocino County so this is home to me,” she said.
The meetings had originally been designed to be a cozy back-and-forth, where people could share ideas in a non-governmental setting. But a huge critical crowd overwhelmed the September meeting.
“Everything is timed to the minute, and we will be following the agenda time,” Smith promised about the November meeting. “The Camp One THP [Timber Harvest Plan] will be discussed again with a JAG vote as it was not completed last meeting.” There will also be a tour of a second THP, but no vote on that one until the next meeting. That tour was canceled at the last meeting; it involved a proposal to use fire as a harvest tool.
Unit Chief Also to be named
A new Mendocino Unit Chief for Cal Fire will be announced at the meeting. Chief Luke Kendall retires on Nov. 17. Kendall began his career in 1991 as a firefighter I in the Mendocino Unit and worked his way up through the ranks, working around the state before becoming the unit chief in 2022.
To contact Smith email her at [email protected]. Activists also plan to raise questions about the participation of John Anderson as a member of the JAG, because of his company’s involvement in a lawsuit against Cal Fire, a lawsuit brought to light in a previous article by this reporter. The press release from the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters for the Coalition to Save Jackson Demonstration State Forest can be found here.