Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Forest Service Plan Revision in the works

By Alannah Allbrett

Forest Supervisor, Rick Brazell was on hand in Orofino Sept. 11, to participate in a Forest Service Plan Revision meeting, facilitated by the University of Idaho.

The Nez Perce/ Clearwater National Forests were selected as one of eight “early adopters” of US National Forests, to be among the first to work on preparing a revised forest plan governing management and uses of the forests. The process will take a minimum of two years to complete and will be done with the participation of Idaho, Clearwater, and Latah Counties co-hosting meeting sessions.

In the two hour meeting at the Best Western Lodge at Rivers Edge, the emphasis was on forming a collaborative work group to hammer out suggestions in a series of team meetings which ultimately will be decided upon by Brazell and subsequently submitted to the Missoula, MT office.

Brazell said historically, the forest service formulated its own plans, and that has not been a successful model. Ideally, people with diverse points of view (on how the forest should be managed) will give input in the planning stages, rather than initiating law suits after- the-fact.

Brazell said that there are at least 21 designated groups, ranging from environmentalists who want roadless areas, to people who believe the forests should be worked. He said they are looking for committed people who will stay with the process until it is complete.

“It’s a matter of getting everybody together to figure out how to manage all the acres out there. I can’t give away the authority,” Brazell said, “but agreement makes the job easier.”

The U of I reps pointed out “cultural assumptions” people carry with them ranging from Utilitarian Views – working the land; Naturalistic Views – leaving some natural places alone; Stewardship Views – using and conserving land for the future; to Nez Perce Tribal Views – having a long-term relationship between natural and community health.

Planners will have to take those views into account, along with describing roles and contribution of the forests, identifying priority watersheds, identifying lands for recreation, identifying timber removal needs, and identifying the eligibility of rivers as wild scenic rivers.

Community orientation meetings such as the ones already held in Orofino and Grangeville, will next take place in Moscow (Sept. 25) at 1912 Center; Lolo, MT (Sept 27) at the Lolo Community Center, and in Lewiston (Oct 4) at the Red Lion Hotel.

Following the orientation meetings, a two and one-half day Forest Plan Summit will be held for participants October 26, 27, and 28, to initiate the collaborative process. The location has not yet been finalized, but will be held in either Orofino or Kamiah. Meeting specifics will be published once known.

The summit is open to both observers, who could not attend the orientation meetings, and to highly committed individuals who are willing to be a part of the revision process for the entire two year period.

Supervisor Brazell has been at this for 34 years and is looking forward to the day when he can retire and spend more time with his grandchildren. He said his passion is for the land, and wants to see this through and be “the first forest in the nation to get this done and get everybody’s interests met the best we can.”

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